For Throwback Thursday we travel to 1971, when the TurboTrain visited Phoenix Union Station on a demonstration tour.
I rode it up from Tucson with two buddies — but we almost didn't get on. Amtrak promised free tickets and drastically underestimated the demand. Americans loved trains then and love them now.
Made by United Aircraft, the Turbo was supposed to be a leap forward for passenger trains. The young me imagined them zipping along at 100 miles-per-hour or more and restoring more rail passenger service to Phoenix. In fact, the trainsets served only a few years in the Northeast and Canada, although some of their concepts today inform the low-center-of-gravity and other features on trains such as the Amtrak Cascades that operate out of Seattle.
Note that Union Station is still a working railroad depot (baggage wagon, multiple tracks). Amtrak's Sunset, a shadow of Southern Pacific's crack Sunset Limited, came through every other day. As recently as 1967, Phoenix had been served by as many as eight passenger trains a day from two railroads.
When the state refused to partner with SP on upkeep of the line to Yuma, passenger train service to Phoenix ceased in 1996. Phoenix is by far the largest American city with no Amtrak service.
Read more Phoenix history on Rogue's Phoenix 101 archive.