If you want a quick orientation to Yuma history, you'll want to catch the "ghost train," now arriving hourly at Pivot Point Interpretative Plaza.
The outdoor exhibit area opened in 2010 where Madison Avenue meets the river - the exact site where the first railroad train entered Arizona in 1877.
It's hard to miss since a very real steam locomotive sits on the original track alignment. But as kids clamber over the 1907 Baldwin locomotive, a 21st-century audio system re-creates the sounds of a passing steamboat, the swing-span rail bridge cranking open and the arrival of a train at the old Southern Pacific Hotel.
After dark, two laser beams trace the rails' path out across the river, while a cascading water feature at the plaza's edge recalls the long-ago bankline. (Please note, because the lasers need to be chilled to function properly, they don't operate during the hottest months).
The plaza preserves one of the few remaining artifacts of the original rail line, the concrete pivot on which the rail bridge turned to allow boats to pass.
But it's also a scenic outdoor museum, with colorful panels that explain the importance of the Yuma Crossing National Historic Landmark.
A stroll around the plaza is a walk through local history, sprinkled with lots of fascinating photographs and interesting stories about the Yuma Territorial Prison, Fort Yuma, the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge, the rope ferry, the Quechan Tribe, the Southern Pacific Hotel and more.
The multi-use pathway system along the riverfront connects to Pivot Point, plus there's a pedestrian link to Gateway Park. Bring a picnic and enjoy the view.
Pivot Point Interpretative Plaza is a city park, open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.