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Wheels Museum

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Leba Freed – Albuquerque’s Wheels Museum

Leba Freed has been recognized by the Albuquerque Historical Society with an Albuquerque History Accolade for her efforts over two decades to preserve Albuquerque’s historic railyards and for creating a museum that honors the nation’s history of transportation.

Leba Freed’s family is one of the mainstay families in Albuquerque’s history. Her father created Freed and Company which had a store on Central downtown for decades. Leba worked there as a child and became the owner/operator later in life. During these years, she rarely gave any notice to the abandoned buildings that were mostly home to pigeons in the 1990s. However, a visit there to the enormous structures caused her to envision turning these industrial Gothic spaces into a world-class museum of transportation. She imagined that the museum would showcase how all forms of transportation have contributed to the nation’s prosperity and the history of Albuquerque specifically. It would pay tribute to the men and women who built the buildings and worked there helping to move people and goods across the country.


© 2022 Albuquerque Historical Society, Inc.

WHEELS Museum Winter 2023 Newsletter

WHEELS Museum Winter 2023 Newsletter

Volunteers are always welcome at WHEELS.  We especially need more volunteers as we add Saturday visiting times to the museum.

WHEELS will be asking the NM Legislature for funds to continue our project to add new track next to the museum for full size rail car exhibits.  We are also seeking for funds for WHEELS development as the Railyards develop.  If you can help or simply know legislators who might help please contact Leba at (505) 243-2629.

Albuquerque Rail Yards Men

“We have a photo of many of the men who worked in the shops. They’re on a locomotive, and we would love to identify the men,” said Leba Freed, the president of the WHEELS Transportation Museum in Albuquerque. “Sadly, they’re gone now, but we are hoping many of the family members would be able to identify them.”

Greasy, covered in their hard work, the men were machinists and boilermakers who kept the railroad running from 1920 through the 1960s. “They restored as many as 40 locomotives, and each one weighed as much as a million pounds,” Freed said. If you can identify someone in the photo, please call the museum at (505) 243-6269.

January 6, 2023 – New Mexico’s Anniversary of Statehood

New Mexico became the 47th state on January 6, 1912. Visit — NewMexicoHistory.org to view thousands of entries: photos, videos, podcasts, Timelines for the five periods of NM History & More ! 

Railroads and New Mexico

Fred Harvey: Civilizer of The West

Harvey Girls

Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Railroads Of Santa Fe County

Fred Harvey New Mexico with author Stephen Fried

In December 2014 I had a story in New Mexico Magazine about the Fredaissance in New Mexico, with a sidebar on how to tour the Harvey heritage spots in the state. Since the sidebar is a little tough to access online, here’s an easier version, with all the links.

Fred Harvey Store

Stephen Fried / MightMakesWrite LLC email: Here

Wheels Museum Tour

Eclectic Videos Vlogs and More

Architecture and The Fred Harvey Houses – The Alvarado and La Fonda

by Dr. David Gebhard

The architectural forms which had arisen in the American Southwest in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries – a blend of the Indian and provincial spanish architecture from Mexico – had long held a fascination for the American from the eastern sections of the country.


Photos from the Las Vegas Trip Oct 2022

Photos from the scenic fall group train trip sponserd by Wheels Museum to historic Las Vegas, NM.
By Brenda Pace.

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Men and Women Workers of the Albuquerque Railyard presentation Saturday, October 29

 History Event at WHEELS Museum.  Learn about the people who worked at the Albuquerque Railyards.  The faces and lives of the men and women who were the soul of the historic Railyard Buildings that are now being restored. These are the people who built modern Albuquerque.

Revisiting the Diverse Men and Women Workers of the Albuquerque Railyard” presentation by Cecelia Navarrete. 

Saturday, October 29 10-11:30 AM at WHEELS Museum. 1100 2nd Street SW. RSVP is a must: (505) 243-6269.

Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. 

From about 1880 to 1955 – the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s steam locomotive repair shops were a dominant industrial presence and driving economic force in Albuquerque. During World War II, at the peak of its production, the Albuquerque repair shops ran three shifts a day and 2,000 employees turned out 40 to 42 overhauled steam locomotives a month.

In this presentation Dr. Navarrete reviews initial findings of the Railyard workers (1880-1940) and delves further into their role during World War II. This is an in depth look at who these workers were and where they came. This is a must for people interested in Albuquerque History.  Dr. Navarrete previously presented her earlier work in a presentation at WHEELS in 2019. She spoke to a standing room only audience so be sure to RSVP.

WHEELS Museum Fall 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

You may download the full newsletter here.

Sing Along event with “Hobo’s Lullaby”!
Wednesday, September 14 at 11:00 AM. at WHEELS Museum 1100 2nd St. SW
Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. RSVP: (505) 243- 6269

Sing-Along leader Dan Matthews has led small sing-alongs at Albuquerque Folk
Fest for many years. Dan gets a little help from his friends (Dave Shead, Nancy
Koenigsberg and Bill Foote), known as “Hobo’s Lullaby”, with strong voices
leading scores of people in rousing, meaningful and joyous songs. Dan’s joy is
singing with people, not singing for people.

The formula for the WHEELS Sing-Along is:
1) A list of familiar and very sing-able railroad and travel songs,
2) Comfortable keys accompanied by guitar back up
3) Lyric sheets for everyone (who remembers all the words?),
4) We will sing out strong, so you feel comfortable singing too.

Among the songs you can join in singing:
• People get ready (there’s a train a comin’)
• City of New Orleans
• Rock Island Line
• Hobo’s Lullaby


Download the Fall 2022 Newsletter


New Lego exhibit at the Wheels Museum. View The New Mexico Lego Users Group has
partnered with WHEELS to have a beautiful Lego Train layout for children of all ages to enjoy. The exhibit will vary from season to season and we invite you to come see this new Lego train exhibit.

Do you have a few hours each month to help the Wheels Museum? Volunteers are needed so the Museum can be open more; run the model railroad trains, also help needed with events, marketing, fund raising. Call Leba Freed at (505) 243-6269.

Febuary 16, 11 am. Bob Bovee Long Steel Rails concert. This program for all ages presents songs and stories about the famous trains, rail workers, hobos, train wrecks and train robbers. Call or email Leba Freed for reservations at (505) 243-6269 or leba4@aol.com.

March 17, Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at WHEELS. Movie, tours, train ride and food celebration.

April 1, 1 pm. Doug Figgs and Badger. Back by popular demand. By reservations only (505) 243- 6269. Doug’s show was sold out last year, so call early! Donation: $10.00.

April 8, 11 am. “Historic Albuquerque” Ronn Perea will present old Albuquerque anecdotes including delightful stories about our beloved Alvarado Hotel and the politicians, actors and entertainers who stayed there. This is a free event but, of course, donations are always appreciated.

April 22, Wheels Museum Day trip to Rancho De Chimayo Restaurante, El Santuario de Chimayo and the Santa Fe Plaza. Call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for more information. The museum is a 501C3 non-profit community organization whose mission is to create a transportation museum at the downtown Albuquerque Steam Locomotive Repair Shops.

May 19-May 23, Train trip to the Grand Canyon. Only a few spaces left.Scheduled through Amtrak Vacations, call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for reservations and more information.