Esmond Station Regional Park to open May 3

Pima County’s brand-new Esmond Station Regional Park, a 274-acre expanse, will open May 3 with five fitness stations, workout equipment, shelter and a walking trail.

Named for a historic stop along the old Southern Pacific Railroad, the park is in the county’s southeastern area and is close to Vail and Rita Ranch. Steve Christy, who serves as District 4 supervisor, said that the new park’s recreational features serve as a hint of more benefits to come.

“These amenities are just the first phase of a much larger plan to provide robust recreation opportunities for county and city residents alike in this growing region,” Christy said in an announcement.

When plans were approved for the regional park area in 2004, funding was allocated for a library; a sheriff’s substation; softball, baseball and soccer fields; tennis and swimming facilities; a dog park; and an expanded Esmond Station historic area. In addition to its modern touches, the park will include a nod to history with a mile-long section of the old Southern Pacific rail bed, an adobe crew quarters building and actual foundations of previously existing structures.

The original Esmond Station was built in the 1880s and functioned as a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad Co.’s southern Arizona route. The station became infamous in 1903 when two trains derailed in a violent head-on collision near what is now Houghton Road.

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