KGUN 9NewsCommunity Inspired JournalismMidtown & Downtown News


Celebrating the anniversary of the first train's arrival in Tucson 144 years ago

2024 Silver Spike Railroad Jubilee
2024 Silver Spike Railroad Jubilee
Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-16 20:15:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Today in downtown, the community celebrated the 144th anniversary of the arrival of the first train in Tucson.

The 2024 Silver Spike Railroad Jubilee took place at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. The museum is located at 414 N. Toole Ave.

On March 20, 1880 the Southern Pacific Railroad officially had its first train stop in Tucson. It was a moment that has helped shape the city’s history.

“When the train came in it changed everything,” Kenneth Karrels, Museum Division Chairman for the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum said. “It opened up the doors, more people came in, business and the architecture came in, the food and the culture.”

Some family members of those who helped bring the railroad here to Tucson all those years ago honored their relatives by reenacting what happened on that historic day.

“I love to see the descendants coming in and they have some fun times together and yet they take great pride in where they have come from and who they represent in this community,” Steve Ochoa said.

Steve Ochoa emceed the event and attended with his two brothers. They are the great-grandsons of Don Estevan Ochoa who was mayor of Tucson in the 19th century. Don Estevan Ochoa also presented a silver spike from Toughnut Mine to Southern Pacific Railroad’s president to show appreciation for the company bringing the railroad to Tucson.

During the event three people were awarded for being the 2024 Silver Spike Honorees.

  • Sandy Chan-Benefactor of the Year
  • Jerry Alexander- Railroader of the Year
  • Debbie Rosenberg- Volunteer of the Year

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free.

Madison Thomas joined KGUN 9 in July of 2023 as a multimedia journalist. She graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2023 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She has lived in Arizona her entire life and grew up in Douglas. Madison is thrilled to share the stories from the community she grew up in. Share your story ideas and important issues with Madison by emailing or by connecting on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.