To provide heat and electricity to Northern Arizona Normal School, wood had to be transported from the nearby Arizona Lumber & Timber Company's mill to the campus power plant. At first, a team of horses performed this task. In the early 1920s, workers laid railroad tracks across the quad to allow a cart to transport the fuel.
The plant switched from wood- to coal-burning in 1931, which made the tracks obsolete. In 1934, College President Thomas Tormey received funding to have the Civil Works Administration remove the tracks. This early New Deal program provided temporary work for approximately four million Americans from November 1933 to March 1934.
Though the tracks and lumber mill are now gone, Flagstaff is still known for the many trains that pass through the city. This line is part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe system, running from Chicago to Los Angeles. For decades, students have heard the rumble of passing locomotives, and generations of them have used the train as a means of getting to and from Flagstaff.