The Town Between Two Tracks: Vail

Vail Travel Blog

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Vail is a small town/ community of a little over 2,484 people in Southern Arizona in the county of Pima. It is well known for the historic Empire Ranch.  The town of Vail was named after Edward Vail: Edward L Vail arrived from the East Coast to Arizona in 1876.  Edward and his brother Walter established and built the Empire Ranch. Edward deeded land from his ranch to the railroad, upon completion of the railroad tracks through the deed land in 1881, a railroad stop and town was given the name "Vail". At one point Vail's Empire Ranch controlled all the private land from Vail to the Mexican Border, between the San Pedro and the Santa Cruz River. History records that in 1891, when the railroad implemented a large rate increase making it hard to break even for the brothers whose cattle from the Empire Ranch had to be brought to market.

  Instead of bowing to the railroad's apparent monopoly and pressure, the Vail Brothers decided they would drive over one thousand heads of their cattle from Vail to markets as far as San Diego. Builders of Empires are said not to be easily intimidated.


Vail is a great place to live and has been reported to be a great place in Arizona to raise families. It reports Mountain Time and has the backdrop of the Santa Rita Mountain. My friends Suzanne, Nick and Tom all live in Vail. I had dined with Suzanne & Nick at their Vail home many times and I never seem to stop being amazed at their backyard over looking the mountain.

Homes built into the hill sides, the horses and clouds over the mountain tops. On one of the visits to Suzanne & Nick’s we stopped at the Mountain Park along the Old Spanish Trail and visited the Colossal Cave. My 7 year old daughter liked the cave the best when we visited.  But all ages seemed to appreciate using the water sluice and panning for gold and gems. Small bags of dirt are sold and one can purchase a small bag of dirt and gems for a very reasonable price. Then they can wash off the dirt in the sluice and "pan for gold and rubies.


The reason it is called the town between two tracks is because of the railroad crossing through it. The Union Pacific Railroad crosses through vail to and from Tucson to Yuma to California and back. Funny because my ex-husband works for the Union Pacific railroad, he used to love telling me about the railroad history and how he loves his job that keeps him away from home 75% of the time. There is not too much to see in terms of tourism beside the Colossal Cave. I have read some good and some bad reviews on Colossal cave. If you ask me, I say it is nothing to regret if one does not see it and if you do, all the better adventure into nature.



Africancrab says:
Yes it was nice and cool, ou know how hot it gets here.
Posted on: Apr 19, 2009
azsalsa says:
Thanks, Harriet for giving us a mini-tour around AZ. There are so many places I haven't visited (even though I live here). I think the cave would be well worth the visit to the area. I bet it was nice and cool in there too!
Posted on: Apr 10, 2009
Africancrab says:
Thanks David, how are you?
Posted on: Apr 05, 2009
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Me on the way to empire ranch
Me on the way to empire ranch
Me on the way to empire ranch
Me on the way to empire ranch
the Cienegas in the distance
the Cienegas in the distance
Vail Sights & Attractions review
Exciting Cave Adventure
Colossal Cave is in the Colossal Cave Mountain Park which is believed to have ben home to ancient Hohokam Indians. I believe it used to be something t… read entire review
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photo by: Africancrab