October 14, 2014

0954, 0955, 1298 UNITED STATES (Arizona) - Grand Canyon Railway

Posted on 08.01.2014 and completed on 14.10.2014
The Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) is a 103km-long passenger railroad, which operates between Williams (Arizona) and Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. The first train arrived to Grand Canyon on September 17 1901. Competition with the automobile forced the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to cease operation of this railway in 1968. Its fate seemed sealed, but in 1988 was bought by Max and Thelma Biegert, who restored it, and the first train has ran on September 17, 1989. The Grand Canyon Depot, owned by the National Park Service, remained the northern terminus for passengers of the line. In 1995 the GCR introduced vintage diesel locomotives, reconditioned 1970s EMD F40PH (in the second postcard), and a year later steam locomotive No. 4960 (in the first postcard) made its first run on the line after being fully restored. No. 4960 (a 2-8-2 locomotive) was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, and operated a freight and coal hauling service for the Midwestern Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad until the late 1950s.

In 2006 the GCR carry about 240,000 passengers, which reduced automobile traffic to the South Rim by 10%. In the same year Xanterra Parks & Resorts bought the Railway, but sold it in 2008 to Philip Anschutz. In 2009, as a result of popular demand, the Railway reinstated limited steam operations at the Williams Depot. After converting locomotive No. 4960 to run purely on waste vegetable oil (WVO), it began conducting steam trips on its special event train dubbed the "Cataract Creek Rambler". Over the winter of 2011/2012, engine 4960 underwent its 15-year overhaul and inspection, and returned to service in 2012 for a special Centennial Run on February 14, celebrating 100 years of Arizona Statehood. Since then, it continues to pull GCR excursions once per month during the summer months from May through September, and for special occasions.

The F40PH - a four-axle 3,000 hp  B-B diesel-electric locomotive, built in several variants between 1975 and 2000 - was originally intended to haul short- to medium-length trains on Amtrak's shorter routes. Hundreds of F40PH units were built, and many can be found in use on passenger, tourist and freight railroads today. Due to the high-pitch noise generated from its engine, the units have often been nicknamed "screamers." The largest fleet of these locomotives now operates in the Chicago metropolitan area on the Metra system, totaling 117 units. The locomotive GCRX 237, formerly AMTK 237 (in the second postcard), built in 1977 by the Electro Motive Division of General Motors at their La Grange, Illinois plant, was purchased by the GCR in 2003, at the same time with AMTK 239 and 295. In 2009 the owner decided to rebuild this locomotive, on the one hand to adapt it to its goals and on the other for environmental upgrades. More details about the rebuilding can be found here.

About the stamps
On the first postcard 
The first stamp is one of Wedding series, about which I wrote here. The second, depicting the characters Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995), is part of the series Send a Hello (Forever), about which I wrote here.

On the second postcard
The first stamp is a Global Forever First-Class Mail International one ($1.10), about which I wrote here. The second stamp is part of the definitives series American Design (2002-2007), about which I wrote here.

On the third postcard
The first stamp, dedicated to Johnny Cash (1932-2003), is part of the series Music Icons Forever, about which I wrote here. The second, depicting Spicebush Swallowtail, is part of a definitive series with butterflies, about which I wrote here

Grand Canyon Railway - Wikipedia
Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel - Official website
The Story of CB&Q 4960, 4963, 5632 and GTW 5629 - Steam Locomotive
The Grand Canyon Railway is starting an exciting rebuild of a retired Amtrak locomotive - examiner.com

Sender 1, 2, 3: Denise
1: sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 19.12.2013
2: sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 04.12.2013 
3: sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 25.01.2014
Photo 2, 3: Scott Temme

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