Magma Arizona Railroad

The Magma Arizona Railroad (reporting mark MAA) was built by the Magma Copper Company and operated from 1915 - 1997.

Magma Arizona Railroad
SD-Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6-1906.jpg
Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6
HeadquartersSuperior, Arizona
Reporting markMAA
Dates of operation1920–1997
Previous gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge; originally 3 ft (914 mm) gauge
Route map
UPRR at Magma Junction
Arizona State Route 79
Florence Junction
U.S. Route 60
Hewitt Station (Queen Valley)
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Magma Engine No. 5 switching in Superior, 1967.

The railroad was originally built as a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line, but was converted to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1923. Originally headquartered in Superior, Arizona, the company primarily hauled cattle and copper on 30.2 miles (48.6 km) of standard gauge track to and from the Southern Pacific mainline in Magma, Arizona, between Florence and Queen Creek.

The Australian mining giant Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) purchased the Magma Copper Company and its lines in 1996 for A$3.2 billion and suspended rail operations on this line a year later.

The Magma was the last industrial short line railroad to use steam power, dieselizing on September 4, 1968.


The railroad has since changed hands and is currently owned by Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto Group. Exploration in 2001-2003 resulted in the discovery of a large copper ore body some 7,000 ft (2133 m) beneath the surface of lands just three miles (5 km) east of Superior. If the mine is eventually reopened, it is highly likely the Magma Arizona will be revived to transport the one billion tons (907 million tonnes) of ore to off-site smelters. Discussions with representatives of Resolution indicate the Magma Arizona name will be kept if the mine and railroad are both reopened, which may occur after feasibility studies are completed in 2009.

Famous LocomotivesEdit

Engine #10 at the Arizona Railway Museum


  1. ^ "Engine No. 3 arrives in Williams to be displayed at future State Railroad Museum". Williams News. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  2. ^ Warnick, Ron (2016-01-15). "$500,000 grant accepted for Arizona State Railroad Museum". Route 66 News. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  3. ^ McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. "Attractions and Exhibits". Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ The Center for East Texas Studies (2000). "TSR Roster". Archived from the original on 2005-03-08. Retrieved 2005-04-02.
  5. ^ Southern Oregon Chapter National Railway Historical Society (1999-03-14). "Medco 8". Archived from the original on 2005-02-04. Retrieved 2005-04-02.
  6. ^ Arizona Railway Museum. "ARM Equipment Roster".


Chappell, Gordon. Rails to Carry Copper: A History of the Magma Arizona Railroad. Boulder, Colorado; Pruett Publishing Company, 1973. Includes over 200 photographs, maps, and scale drawings.

External linksEdit