How Waste Vegetable Oil Saved an Endangered Man-Made Species | Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel

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Press Release

How Waste Vegetable Oil Saved an Endangered Man-Made Species

WILLIAMS, Ariz. – It’s a rarity in America – authentic steam engines pulling historic passenger trains. But there are still some out there much to the delight of children, rail fans, photographers and romantics, and the Grand Canyon Railway is one of those special places that the Iron Horse still gallops. As a matter of fact, the railway has two operating steam engines and both will run in 2018 pulling trains from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim of Grand Canyon on the first Saturday of each month from March to October. Nearly extinct due to their environmental impact, the people at the Grand Canyon Railway come up with the ingenious idea in 2009 to try to run a steam engine on waste vegetable oil, WVO (the stuff of French fry and fried shrimp fame). And it worked. Reclaimed rain water and snow melt is used as much as possible to generate steam power to reduce pulling water from underground aquifers. Not only do the the old steam engines tread very lightly on the environment, the Grand Canyon Railway became the first tourist railway in the United States to receive ISO 14001 third-party certification of its environmental management system (EMS) after a two-year process involving complete review, development and implementation of environmental initiatives in all of its operations. So now engine No. 4960 and No. 29 ride on the rails regularly. And these are no small engines. Grand Canyon Railway steam engine No. 4960, built in 1923, weighs in at 310 tons, and locomotive No. 29, built in 1906, tips the scales at 185 tons. One or sometimes both of the engines will also operate on special dates in 2018 including: Steam Saturdays March 3 | April 7 | May 5 June 2 | July 7 | August 4 September 1 | October 6 February 17 Presidents’ Day April 21 Earth Day September 15 Grand Canyon Railway Anniversary The daily trains, usually powered by diesel engines except on the dates above and the first Saturdays from March to October, leave Williams at 9:30 a.m. and arrive steps from the South Rim of Grand Canyon (a distance of 65 miles) at 11:45 a.m. The train then departs the Grand Canyon at 3:30 p.m. returning to Williams at 5:45 p.m. Grand Canyon Railway also offers hotel and accommodations packages. It is estimated that traveling by train to Grand Canyon takes around 70,000 cars year out of the national park, further helping tread lighting on the environment. For additional information on all train schedules, including the steam engines, visit or call 1-800-THE TRAIN (843-8724). _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Media Contact: René A. Mack / Additional photos, video and interviews available upon request.