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Old Tucson Site May Get A New Life

In 1995, a fire destroyed much of the historic Old Tucson attraction. The Coronvirus pandemic was the final nail in the coffin of the popular tourist attraction down south.

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Old Tucson’s previous operator was forced to revert the lease for the 180-acre site in the desert to Pima County, the property owner after they closed.

However, there is hope that the historic site will soon be returned to its historic glory after the Pima County officials announced on Friday their recommendation that the county Board of Supervisors approve an agreement to have Durango, Colorado-based American Heritage Railways take control of the southern Arizona landmark.

American Heritage Railways operates historic railroads in Colorado and North Carolina is ready and to take over operations of Old Tucson.

The venue, built in 1939, was once a western-themed attraction that served as a film set for classic movies, television productions and commercials. It served as a replica of the 1860’s-era Tucson by Paramount Pictures for the movie “Arizona.” Old Tucson has been the backdrop for more than 400 films, television series, music videos and commercials. It also was once a popular tourist attraction for those wanting to see what the wild west was really like back in the day.

American Heritage Railways’ properties operates the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango and the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, North Carolina.

The tentative agreement has the company paying Pima County $60,000 annually to rent the property and 4% of its annual gross operating revenue, with the money going toward capital maintenance and expansion.

On April 5, the county board will vote on an five-year operating agreement with possible extension.

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