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Tue, Nov. 12

‘Meeting the 4 O’clock Train’ exhibit opens at Sharlot Hall Dec. 3

The F.W. Tritle was the first train to reach Prescott on the Prescott & Arizona Central Railroad, begun in 1886, but became lost in the history of Territorial lore.

The F.W. Tritle was the first train to reach Prescott on the Prescott & Arizona Central Railroad, begun in 1886, but became lost in the history of Territorial lore.

For almost a century, railroad service to Prescott was a transportation mainstay — either providing freight service or passenger transport.

While it ended in 1983, the lure and lore of train travel continues to pique the interests of visitors and locals. A new railroad exhibit showcasing the rise and fall of train services to Prescott, “Meeting the 4 O’clock Train,” begins a featured run at Sharlot Hall Museum this Saturday, Dec. 3.

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Photo courtesy Sharlot Hall Museum

Meeting the four o’clock train was a popular pastime in early Prescott. This celebratory view of the Depot is dated 1933.

A railroad line across the northern Arizona Territory was a long-sought dream finally realized in 1882. To the dismay of Prescott residents of the time, it went through Ash Fork – about 50 miles too far north! A spur line finally brought freight to town via the ill-fated Prescott and Arizona Central Railway, and passenger travel was a bonus feature.

The Museum’s new train exhibit chronicles the local boom-to-bust railway legacy – from the Yavapai County bonds that paid for one of the lines and almost kept Arizona from becoming a state, to the many train wrecks and washed out tracks.

A distinct feature of the exhibit is a 12-by-20-fppt HO-scale model depiction of early Prescott and its iconic Depot. Push a button and watch scale-model trains traverse the flatlands and Dells en route to the miniature downtown station and nearby roundhouse. The Central Arizona Model Railroad Club created and produced the train layout on display.

Passenger service to Prescott along the Peavine Trail and skirting Fort Whipple ended in 1962; freight service shut down about two decades later.

The lore of rail service to the Highlands, however, remains a featured mixture of greed, power, politics and perseverance – all portrayed in the “Meeting the 4 O’clock Train” exhibit with its interactive games, artifacts and displays. These special features will delight children of all ages.

Admission to the exhibit is included in the daily admission to the museum, and found in the theater of the Lawler Exhibit Center. Sharlot Hall Museum is located at 415 W. Gurley St., Prescott, two blocks west of the courthouse plaza.

For more information, call the museum at 928-445-3122.

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