Ride along the Grand Canyon Railway, across prairies and cowboy towns, and look over the rim Grand Canyon Itself, that inspiring valley a mile deep that was created over millions of years by Colorado River: The Experience is one of the family’s most popular ways to savor the Southwest.
The train, a throwback in itself, stretches 65 miles from Williams, Arizona to the southern edge of the canyon, providing views of the unique natural environment and living history, and was the recipient of the 2017 Arizona Governor’s Award for Outstanding Historical and Cultural Preservation.
And this summer, its 1923 Locomotive No.4960 steam engine may smell like billowing smoke from French fries.
This year, the train will be carbon neutral, and will run on recycled vegetable oil waste – the first time that green energy biofuel technology has been applied to a steam engine. And as we slowly return to safe family travel, you can reserve family seats on these green leftovers.
About 140 years ago, Rudolf Diesel developed a diesel engine to run on any type of oil. Peanut oil was used specifically in 1900 when he presented his engine at the World’s Fair.
Industrialization and the development of automobiles ultimately led to the use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels as the engine gained popularity. Diesel is a petroleum product with a low combustion rate used for delivery trucks, large boats, buses, etc., including trains. Trains on the east coast generally run on coal, but in the west, where coal was not available, they ran on petroleum. Reality, GRR In fact, it stopped operating the steam locomotive more than a decade ago due to the environmental impact of an ecosystem that appreciates its natural wonders. It took two years to develop and implement the retrofit.
Says Eric Hader, head of mechanics at Grand Canyon Railway. “Our use of renewable and environmentally friendly resources is not limited to fuels. It also includes lubricants. Being able to share it with many people makes it even better.”
Using recycled vegetable oils from restaurants, Locomotive 4960 is actually carbon neutral and a third-party (ISO 14001) certified environmental management. Used grease is collected and filtered by Baker Commodities, a company that brokers uses vegetable oils and other recyclables from restaurants, farms, industrial centers, schools and other institutions.
The railway will run daily trips through the Grand Canyon National Park which departs at 9:30 AM and returns at 5:45 PM with a four-hour stopover at the South Rim. This year, there will be a few flights aboard the grease-powered 4960: April 3 and 24 (special Earth Day flight), May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7, September 4 and 18. Train trips can also be packaged with stays at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, which is within walking distance of downtown Williams, an activity-packed city known as the gateway to this national park. The nearest airports are in Phoenix and Las Vegas, three and 3.5 hours’ drive away, respectively. The kids will be kindled, even if they crave fried food for the rest of the trip.
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