The "Dinky" - Queen Creek's Railroad

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Whether you were living in the Midwest or the Southwest during the 1930s and 1940s, the Dinky was a common method of transportation, and Queen Creek was no different. Sometimes referred to as the Doodle Bug, this early version of the commuter train typically consisted of only one coach and an engine that made daily runs to-and-from Phoenix. There were also several freight trains that ran weekly on this route, carrying equipment and returning with ore from the mines.

The DinkyWe’re told that there were three railroad sidings along Rittenhouse Road. These sidings were short side-tracks that connected with the main line. The Queen Creek Station consisted of a brick house and a large water tank, with a well and gas-operated pump underneath. This was located at the southern-most siding, across from what is now Schnepf Farms. The building is gone, but the water tank still exists.

A second siding was at the Ellsworth Road crossing and was used heavily for loading produce. This was also the site of a World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp, which operated on the north side of the tracks from 1942 and 1945. German POWs provided farm labor, and a doctor at the camp was known to have occasionally treated local residents.

The third siding was located across from the Boys Ranch (Canyon State Academy). One would assume that passengers would load and unload at the sidings, but according to local folklore, residents usually just flagged down the Dinky from anywhere along the tracks.

Emory Shahan once shared a story about his grandfather, James Montgomery Shahan.[1] James came to Queen Creek in 1932, where he was employed as the Section Foreman by the Pacific Railroad. Mr. Shahan’s job was to check the tracks and keep them in good working order at all times. After every rain one could hear the little gasoline motor car running up the tracks checking the rails for any flood damage. Should the track be damaged, there would be a crew sent out to make the needed repairs. According to the story, the tracks were held in place by cross ties and railroad spikes. Every cross tie was marked with a date-stamped nail. In this way, old ties could be checked and replaced as they became too old to support the traffic.

Excerpts from the following were used for this article:

[1] Histories & Precious Memories of the Queen Creek Area, Arizona, by Frances Picket