In honor of Verde Canyon Railroad’s Silver Anniversary, the depot’s John Bell Museum, a treasure trove of the heritage railroad’s great history, has received a major update and upgrade. Exhibits have expanded on Jerome, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, local ranching families, the Yavapai-Apache tribe, the copper industry and the network of area rail lines (mostly now vanished) that contributed to the Verde Valley’s development. In addition, newly-discovered artifacts unearthed along the tracks add to the collection of classic train implements and objects. Over the past 25 years, the keen-eyed track crew have unearthed many vintage metal artifacts along the Verde Canyon Railroad tracks, ranging from 100 year old switch locks to oil cans and portions of horse harnesses.
Additional educational enhancements to the railroad experience for visitors are the educational storyboards installed down the quarter-mile length of the depot’s platform, detailing the Verde Canyon’s flora and fauna. Visitors can learn fascinating facts about the myriad animals native to the Verde Valley and recognize the region’s hardy high desert indigenous plants and their many uses. The special details of the railroad’s vintage locomotives and rail cars is also shared here where passengers may enjoy the story prior to boarding the train.
The John Bell Museum is free and open to the public daily, and the colorful, educational storyboards may be viewed by depot visitors at any time.