Not long after Ed Schieffelin discovered silver in a remote location that later became the boom town of Tombstone the people began clamoring for a railroad.
When the Southern Pacific RR reached Tucson in March 1880, and 3 months later reached Benson just 25 miles away. It looked like building a branch to Tombstone would be soon. The SPSR traces its origins back to May 24, 1888, when the Arizona and Southeastern Railroad (A&SE) was incorporated with headquarters at Bisbee, Arizona. Bisbee was a booming mining town that by the 1890 census was the sixth largest city in Arizona.
First on the list of importance was Contention on the San Pedro River, between Fairbank and Charleston. Charleston was on the road from Tombstone to Fort Huachuca. The Arizona and New Mexico RR under the direction of the Santa Fe RR built a large station in Contention sending a clear message they had no intention of building to Tombstone. It would head south then turn west heading towards Nogales.
At Millville, across the San Pedro River from the new town of Charleston and Contention. Several mills including the Corbin were erected.
In 1881-1882 a line was built from Benson to Fairbank to Nogales.1889 Fairbank to Bisbee. In 1888 Arizona & Southeastern built a 60-mile line southward along the San Pedro River from a connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad from Benson to Bisbee. The A&SE track partially paralleled the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad (NM&A) that was built six years earlier (1882) on the opposite side of the San Pedro River from Benson to Fairbank. The NM&A then went southwest to Nogales via Sonoita and Patagonia.
By 1894 a direct line from Bisbee to the mainline at Benson by the El Paso and Southwest RR. On April 5,1903 regular passenger service would finally be built through Tombstone so the “Town Too Tough to Die,” would have no railroad until 1905 long after the good ol’ days had come and gone.