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Santa Fe began to lay tracks from Williams to the Grand Canyon in 1899, and operated the railroad to the Grand Canyon from 1901 until 1974, when they abandoned service and the railroad tracks. The depot at the Grand Canyon was also abandoned, and fell into disrepair.
Beginning in 1977, there were efforts to resurrect the railroad under private ownership, but plans continually fell through. It wasn't until 1988 that Phoenix businessman Max Biegert and his wife Thelma purchased the railway and developed the current train service. The first train arrived at the Grand Canyon depot in September, 1989, and the train has run continually since then. About 130,000 passengers now ride the railroad every year, so it's a good idea to make your reservations early.