Old Tucson site may soon be run by Colorado railroad operator

Mar 21, 2022, 4:15 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A company that operates historic railroads in Colorado and North Carolina is poised to take over operations of Old Tucson, a western-themed attraction that served as a film set for classic movies, television productions and commercials, officials said.

Pima County officials on Friday recommended that the county Board of Supervisors approve an agreement to have Durango, Colorado-based American Heritage Railways take control of the southern Arizona landmark, local media outlets reported.

Old Tucson’s previous operator closed the attraction in 2020 due to financial fallout from the coronavirus. The lease for the 180-acre (73-hectare) site in the desert on Tucson’s western outskirts reverted to Pima County, the property owner.

Built in 1939 as a replica of the 1860’s-era Tucson by Paramount Pictures for the movie “Arizona,” Old Tucson has served as the site for more than 400 films, television series, music videos and commercials.

Fire destroyed much of the attraction in 1995.

“We’re all so excited for this opportunity to be in Tucson, to work at Old Tucson, which is such an historic site, and to really bring what we do best — which is the entertainment, the preservation, and bringing this property back to life,” John Harper, American Heritage Railways’ manager, told KGUN-TV.

American Heritage Railways’ properties include the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango and the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, North Carolina.

The county board is expected to vote April 5 on an five-year operating agreement with possible extensions, the Arizona Daily Star and KOLD-TV reported.

The company would pay Pima County $60,000 annually to rent the property and 4% of its annual gross operating revenue, with the money going toward capital maintenance and expansion.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Students and teachers from East High School in Salt Lake City walk out of school to protest the HB1...
Associated Press

Pandemic restrictions, curriculum battles emboldened ‘school choice’ policy push

The debates have inflamed teachers’ unions and resurfaced concerns about efforts to gradually privatize public education.
18 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

St. Mary’s Food Bank accepting citrus donations through April

It is citrus season for the St. Mary’s Food Bank, and donations are being accepted at both locations through April 30.
18 hours ago
(Arizona State University Photo; UArizona Photo)...

ASU, UArizona ranked among nation’s top 10 online programs by US News and World Report

ASU came in at No. 7 on the list of online bachelor's programs with UArizona at No. 10 on a list of 359 schools ranked.
18 hours ago
A 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air III sold for $275,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale...
Kevin Stone

Barrett-Jackson car auction causing traffic jams in Scottsdale

The 2023 Barrett-Jackson collector car auction has been so popular that it's causing traffic jams as it breaks attendance records.
18 hours ago
(Arizona Capitol Museum Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona Republicans change legislative rules on preserving emails, texts

Republicans in the Arizona Legislature changed the rules on how long state lawmakers have to preserve emails and text messages.
18 hours ago
Demonstrators stage a rally in front of the White House to celebrate President Joe Biden's plan to ...
Kevin Stone

Lawsuits keeping over 300,000 Arizonans from getting student loan relief

Lawsuits are preventing more than 300,000 Arizonans from having some or all of their student debt dismissed, the Biden administration said Friday.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Old Tucson site may soon be run by Colorado railroad operator