At the peak of its prosperity, the fabled Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona produced a king’s ransom in gold and silver. Towns and mines with picturesquely whimsical names like Bueno, Turkey Creek, Tiger, Tip Top, Oro Belle and Big Bug were peopled with boisterous devil-may-care miners aptly described as unmarried, unchurched and unwashed. Each community boasted it was built atop the madre del oro and its streets would soon be cobbled with golden nuggets.
In 1899, the vast riches inspired railroad entrepreneur Frank Murphy to extend his Prescott and Eastern Line from Mayer into the heart of the great mountains. Although Murphy was warned he’d be stopped by this maze of rugged, perpendicular grades laced with canyons so steep that big horn sheep had to shut their eyes and walk sideways, he was determined to meet the challenge of the mountains. That’s why it’s best-remembered as Frank Murphy’s Impossible Railroad.