Vail Depot was built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1900 to ship the in-demand copper ore coming from local mines. In the 1940s, the Depot was renovated to be a three-sided shelter for passengers waiting for the train. The Depot was demolished in 1964 when the train no longer stopped in Vail.
Between 1895 and 1914, Vail was a beehive of activity fueled by the copper boom. Copper
became an especially valuable commodity in the 1880s and 90s when Thomas
Edison improved the light bulb and utility companies began to string copper
wire across the country. The price spiked and copper mining became very
profitable. Copper mines, especially the Helvetia Copper Mining operation in
the Santa Rita Mountains south of Vail, expanded quickly. The Helvetia Mining
Company spent $10,000 to build a road to Vail—the break of bulk point for the
shipment of copper ore.
So many Southern Pacific trains were being flagged to stop at
Vail that in 1900 the Southern Pacific Railroad built a depot. Vail’s first
Southern Pacific Railroad Agent was Harry Man. He was also Vail’s first
Postmaster. In the early 1940s the Depot was turned into a three sided shelter
for passengers catching the train from Vail. In 1964 the Depot was demolished
and the train no longer stopped in Vail.1