In 1967, the Fowler McCormick's donated 100 acres of McCormick Ranch to the City of Scottsdale stipulating that it be used as a park for all to enjoy. At that time the land value was $1 million. Their hope was that the gift would encourage others to give as well as to make Scottsdale a better place to live for succeeding generations. The area circled in red on the map was known as "South Ranch".
The original location of the park was to be on 50 acres on the west side of Scottsdale Road. Complaints arose from the town of Paradise Valley so, to avoid difficulty, it was agreed to move across the street, wholly within, Scottsdale city limits. The land size of the park was cut from 50 to 30 acres.
Knowing today how Scottsdale has grown, it is interesting to note that there was a concern that people may not have wanted to travel that far north to visit a park.
Guy Stillman, the son of Anne and Fowler McCormick, was the driving force behind the creation of the park. His 5/12 Paradise and Pacific Railroad assembled on his property at the Stillman Ranch was offered to the city in 1971. The locomotive and cars were faithfully produced replicas of the Century Narrow Gauge Railway equipment over a 20 year time period. The Paradise and Pacific was to be the center point of the park. Walt Disney had even offered to buy the railroad from Guy for a theme park he was developing, but Guy wanted to keep it in Scottsdale.
Stillman and others founded the Scottsdale Railroad & Mechanical Society which raised funds for the park's creation. The Federal Government contributed $100,000, the city of Scottsdale also donated $100,000, and under Stillman's leadership the society raised over $100,000.The U.S. Marine Corps and Senator Barry Goldwater have also made entries in the history of McCormick Railroad Park. As an alternative to building temporary training projects which must then be destroyed, the Marine training program often contributes labor to permanent civic projects. Stillman, who was on the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy, prevailed upon the Corps to assist with the track-laying at the park. When neighbors expressed objections to the Department of Defense, Senator Goldwater intervened on behalf of the Society and the track laying was completed. The following is an excerpt from the letter written by Barry Goldwater regarding the Marines involvement:
"If you want my honest opinion about all the opposition you are receiving over your railroad, I think it is one of the damnest, uncalled-for bits of action I have ever run in to.
"The armed services has historically given help to communities wherever they could and whenever it was asked for. There is nothing wrong with the Marines doing this kind of work if the Marines have the time. If they don't have the time, I am sure we can call on the Air Force or the Army or the Navy and they will be glad to step in.
If I can help you in any way on this most worthwhile project, just blow the whistle."
he McCormick Railroad Park opened to the public on a beautiful fall morning October 4th, 1975.Since the park's inception, its attractions and amenities have grown, the community it resides in shares many wonderful memories. When the park was originally designed, its purpose was to provide the ultimate in family fun and education, through the preservation of Arizona's Railroad Heritage.
The park provides a fun and safe environment for family enjoyment and learning. Millions of visitors have enjoyed the park. In 1996, McCormick Railroad Park was renamed McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in recognition of its founder, Guy Stillman.
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