Discovery Park

Guide to Arizona's Miniature Railroads


Discovery Park Express

The Discovery Park Railroad

Defunct Railroad

          In 2006 the Mount Graham International Education and Culture Foundation, doing business as Discovery Park in Safford Arizona changed hands. The property is now a campus of Eastern Arizona College. Unfortunately the high cost of operations (insurance was $3,000 a month) forced them to suspend operation of the train. It is now a static display beside the parking lot of the Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus. Their new web address is: Discovery Park

The Discovery Park Express in Safford, Arizona

          Located on 200 acres in Safford Arizona, Discovery Park allows patrons an opportunity to explore the Heavens and the Earth. The Heavens can be explored at the Gov Aker Observatory which features a 20-inch reflecting telescope as well as a 0.5-meter radio telescope. Interactive exhibits include demonstrations of the principles of physics and astronomy with the highlight being a custom designed, full-motion shuttle flight simulator. Back on Earth patrons explore Nature's Hideaway which presents a riparian setting featuring native wildlife, flora and fauna of the Gila River Basin. Nature's Hideaway can be accessed via hiking trails from the visitor's center or from the nearby Circle D Ranch which is best reached by train ride on the Discovery Park Express.

Discovery Park Express

The Discovery Park Express


Engineer Ken Showers with engine and consist

          The Discovery Park Express is a 24" gauge, steam outline, propane-hydraulic powered engine. It pulls two covered coaches which each comfortably seat 12 adults, and a caboose which provides additional seating and is wheel chair accessible. The train was built by J&E in 1997 and went into service at Discovery Park in 1998.

Gov Aker Observatory

Gov Aker Observatory in background

A View From the Cab

A view from the cab of the engine

          The nearly 2 mile right-of-way of the Discovery Park Railroad is comprised of an upper loop around the observatory and lower "half-dogbone" which passes through the Circle D Ranch. The Circle D Ranch contains a loading platform for the train, an authentically furnished 1870's era ranch house and a barn building used for weddings, parties and other special occasions. The trackwork performed by the Roseberry Construction Co. includes 4 trestles (one of which is quite spectacular), 6 spring switches and a wye.


Circle D Ranch loading platform

Inside the Platform

View from inside the loading platform

Upper Loop

Part of the upper loop of track

Circle D Ranch

The Circle D Ranch viewed from the upper loop

          The nearly 2 mile trip lasts ~30 minutes. Days and hours of operation can be found on their website. Note: This railroad is no longer in operation...


View from below the trestle

Circling the Observatory

Circling the observatory under blue Arizona skies

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