Sunset Route and Apache Trail

1915 Auto Tours - Sunset Route LTD
Sponsored by: Sunset Route Limited

The "Sunset Route" was the Southern Pacific Railroad's "New Orleans to San Francisco" train route. They coined the name "Apache Trail" and "Apacheland" in 1914 as an advertising campaign for the upcoming San Francisco Exposition in 1915... the name stuck ever since. Prior to 1914 the Apache Trail was known as the "Roosevelt to Mesa Road"

The Southern Pacific was one of the first coast to coast railroads and played a major role in attracting tourists from all over the world. Their coast to coast train ride cost $360 per person, round trip. The S&P "Sunset Route" lines offered an extended 120 mile motorcar side trip over the Apache Trail from the Bowie/Globe exchange to Phoenix. This was an additional $20 per person plus $4 for the Ancient Cliff Dwelling tour as outlined in the 1922-23 winter touring schedule. Not bad for a first class, coast to coast  train ride with an added motorcar tour for only $384... round trip. (click here to see photos)

Today, the Apache Trail is still considered one of the most scenic road trips in the United States and is the second most photographed area in the state of Arizona.

Southern Pacific's Auto Tours

The Southern Pacific Railroad had the franchise on the Mesa / Roosevelt Road and decided to call it "The Apache Trail". It was the only direct southern route for motorcar travelers going to California from the east coast. The trail also happened to connect the Southern Pacific Railroad's Bowie station to Phoenix.

The Apache Trail premiered in travel ads for the 1915 California Exposition. The Apache Trail Auto Line served as an extra added adventure for those who wanted to take a motorcar trip from the Bowie/Globe station to Chandler or Phoenix via the Apache Trail. (click here to see photos)

In 1922 the Arizona Department of Transportation completed Route 70 (now Route 60) which was a more direct and efficient way to connect Globe and Mesa. The grades were not as steep as the Apache Trail and it served as a much safer route for truckers who were hauling big, heavy loads cross country.

Except for Tortilla Flat, by 1928 most of the service stations along the Apache Trail closed due to lack of travelers. The excitement of the Apache Trail seemed to die off by the early 1930's.

The Southern Pacific Railroad stopped advertising the Apache Trail as a "side attraction" in the late 1930's. By early 1942 the Southern Pacific Railroad suspended all civilian travel and utilized the railroad for the war effort.