TUNNEL IN ARIZONA
A partial tunnel blasted into a steep ridge is all that remains of a failed railway across Arizona.
In 1881, businessman James Eddy was struck by inspiration. Northern Arizona was connected to the rest of the country by transcontinental railways and was dense with ponderosa pine forests and a burgeoning timber industry. Southern Arizona, meanwhile, was even more populated, and the isolated mining boomtowns in the deserts were home to some of the richest silver and copper veins in the world. If he could connect the south to the railroad network in the north, he would stand to make a fortune.
The benefit of connecting the two halves of the state would be twofold: sending much-needed lumber and supplies to the communities in the south, and freighting mined minerals back north where they could more easily be shipped to the industrial centers on the coasts. Only one thing stood in the way of Eddy’s plan: the Mogollon Rim.
The southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau, an elevated region that crosses into four states, is the Mogollon Rim, a massive ridge of steep slopes that cross much of Arizona. When Eddy formed the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad company, his engineers calculated that to run a railway across the Mogollon Rim at a gentle enough grade for trains he would need to create a tunnel 3,100 feet long and 16 feet wide.