Dozens of people of all ages toured the California Zephyr train car during Saturday's Maricopa Historical Society seminar. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Historical Society hosted a forum, “Maricopa: A Town on the Move,” Saturday morning at City Hall to educate residents on how the construction of train tracks across the nation have helped shape the city’s past, present and future.

Maricopa has known three locations and four names largely because of the city’s railway system. Maricopa Wells became Maricopaville when the tracks were placed eight miles south of town, and that eventually became Maricopa Junction when a track to run goods from Phoenix and Tempe was added in the 1880s.

In 1935, largely due to flooding issues, all but one track was removed from the city and it became known as Maricopa.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of history with the railroads,” Historical Society Vice President Denton Hoeh said. “What I’ve found is that whenever you start looking at railroad history it starts to get very dynamic. It’s not straight-forward at all.”

Event attendees heard from various presenters on how the railroad not only helped shape Maricopa, but Arizona and the United States as well.

Some railways built in the 1870s are still in use today. The “Sunset Limited” railway that runs from Los Angeles to Miami has passed through Maricopa for over a century and still remains one of the most used sections of track in the nation.

“One of the things I learned very quickly moving from western New York to Arizona is that you meet people from just about everywhere else,” Maricopa City Council member Peggy Chapados said. “I think I was here several years before I could count on both hands the number of people I met that were actually from Arizona.”

The Historical Society event continued into the afternoon as well when they held an open house for residents to view the California Zephyr train car at the Maricopa Amtrak Station.


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