All posts by Wheels Museum

New Mexico Historic Preservation Division State Plan Survey

May 12, 2021
Dear Friend of Preservation:
I am asking you to get involved in the future of historic preservation in New Mexico.  Every five years my office develops a state plan to identify current preservation challenges and successes. With your involvement, we will set goals through 2031 to guide preservationists working in New Mexico.
Part of the process is gathering as much public opinion as possible.  This year we are encouraging participation through a survey that takes about 5 minutes to complete.  We are asking our colleagues—preservation organizations and nonprofits, architects and archaeologists, firms, governments, state and national parks, Indian nations and Pueblos, consultants, students and university departments—to help us out.
If you could send the link to the online survey to people on your mailing list or post it on your website, or both, this would help us ensure the broad-based response we need to develop a preservation plan for New Mexico.

The survey is posted on the Historic Preservation Division’s website. The survey is available in English and en español.
We look forward to your involvement and encourage you to take the survey yourself. 
Jeff Pappas
State Historic Preservation Officer

Traveling the Rails in Grand Style

Traveling the Rails in Grand Style
Photographs and Supplemental Materials of the Fred Harvey Hotels, 1896-1945
University of Arizona, Special Collections

About the Collection
There are approximately 2,000 photographs depicting exterior and interior views of hotels, eating houses, railroad stations and news stands operated by Fred Harvey. States represented are Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Other photographs document the Indian exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, 1915, and the Panama-California Exposition, 1915-1916. All photographs can be viewed through this online exhibit.

New Mexico

Copyright © 2000
University of Arizona, Special Collections

Danielle Casey, President of AED tours Wheels Museum.

Danielle Casey, President at Albuquerque Economic Development, tours Wheels Museum with Leba Freed. Did you know that the railroad was instrumental in the development of the Albuquerque region between 1880 and 1930? And that the historic facility is now home to the Wheels Museum and is a frequent location seen in tv and film? We learned about this and so much more in a tour this week with Wheels Museum President Leba Freed-Pierce! Check out this gem yourself at http://wheelsmuseum.orgGrant Taylor, ΦΒΣ,MBA,IOM Daniel Schmuck Albuquerque Economic Development

AED is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to recruit new employers and industry and help local companies grow to generate quality job opportunities for the Albuquerque metro area.

Triumphant Democracy: US Railroads

Copyright © 2012 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College

Comparisons with railroad systems abroad underscore the particular circumstances under which the industry developed in America. In Europe, the rails connected existing towns and urban centers. In the United States, the industry helped to open the West, develop the country economically, and create a sense of national unity, while also displacing Native American peoples. More

NM Railroad Updates

Adrian Gurule
December 26, 2020

Just a few items to clarify on recent railroad posts here in the group. I myself am the President of a passenger rail advocacy group in NM and we are either involved directly with these railroads and or we know persons involved in the project.

ATSF 2926 (Steam Engine formerly in Coronado Park)
The steam engine is near completion and was scheduled to move under her own power (move under her own power is moving the locomotive without any assistance from a generator and or another locomotive) in early 2020. She was gonna have her pistons & rods reinstalled along with the boiler steamed up to make this happen. However due to COVID-19 and group restrictions, President of the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society said he doesn’t want to fire up the engine until the whole team can enjoy the event. There is 20+ persons who work on it. That event is suspended until further notice. However once we move on from COVID -19. The steam engine will need to have her crews qualified to operate it on the mainline track which is owned by NMRX Railroad (Rail Runner) and leased by Amtrak & BNSF Railway. This will take a few months to a certain amount of weeks to have this happen. You will see the steam engine most likely operate north of Albuquerque due to little to no freight or passenger traffic. Once this is complete, ATSF 2926 will need to partner with Amtrak or BNSF to lease a locomotive to use behind the steam engine when they are pulling passenger cars.

Due to the Federal Railroad Administrations strict guidelines on operating a steam engine, a Diesel Powered locomotive is required to provide power to the passenger cars and also provide assistance to the steam engine if needed on steep grades. ATSF 2926 does not own her own passenger car fleet so she will need to partner with owners across the country who own their own private rail cars. These rail cars will need to be inspected by Amtrak or BNSF and the FRA before approved to operate with ATSF 2926. These passenger cars are transported by Amtrak at the end of their routes. So these passenger rail car owners will need to pay Amtrak to transport their rail cars to Albuquerque via the Southwest Chief. Once all that as been completed, ATSF 2926 will need to insure they have all proper insurance & liability papers in order with BNSF Railway, Amtrak & NMRX Railroad. Once all that is complete, the railroads will cut open operating windows for ATSF 2926 to operate through without causing service disruption for Rail Runner, Amtrak or BNSF trains.

ATSF 2926 will most likely operate north of Albuquerque due to little to no rail traffic. In 2009 BNSF railway (formerly Santa Fe Railroad) suspended all operations between Albuquerque, NM & Trinidad , CO due to little to no operating revenue and or customers left on the route. However they reserve the right under agreements with NMDOT (NMRX) and Amtrak to use the route again for freight if they deem necessary. Because of this ATSF 2926 will have an easier time operating without disrupting rail traffic. In regards to operating to Clovis, Gallup or Las Cruces that is gonna be on logistical nightmare which BNSF railway will have to throughly consider. BNSF has what is known as the Transcon route known as the “Super Rail Highway of the SW” that runs from Gallup > Belen > Vaughn > Clovis and those trains carry high priority goods which can’t be delayed. Anyone between Albuquerque & Raton your in luck.

SFS Railroad (Santa Fe Southern Railroad)
This line was formerly owned by Hollywood actor & railroad enthusiast “Michael Gross” who saved the line from abandonment by the ATSF (Santa Fe Railroad) in the early 90s. This later gave birth to the Santa Fe Southern Railroad which operated freight & tourist railroad operations on the former ATSF rail line between Santa Fe & Lamy, NM. Santa Fe Southern had a big customer within Santa Fe and that was the Santa Fe Brewery. They would use BNSF to haul their beer out by rail. But in the late 2000s they began to use Semi Truck. Business began to decline in Santa Fe for the SFS railroad. When Rail Runner came to town, the state purchased the ROW (Right of Way) from them in 2008 which is known as the El Dorado Subdivision on the NMRX railroad in railroad terminology. Rail Runner rebuilt the rail line in Santa Fe causing the rail yard near St Francis to have a bit of a change. This posed some issues for SFS and when rail runner opened in December 2008, they moved to a tourist railroad operation.

In late 2010 they suspended operations after the failed “ X-Train” company out of Las Vegas, NV failed and an Australian company failed to buy it for railroad testing. Before the recent purchase of the line by George Martin & his associates. The route was rated at 20 mph due to the rail being so aged, the railroad ties began to move with the trains movement and also weeds began to plague the route. The route still uses the wooden trestles by the ATSF still to this day. They had times were the route would have a broken rail causing service to be only from Lamy to Galisteo Basin and service to Santa Fe was suspended until the broken rail was fixed.

SFS railroad will also have to work with NMRX Railroad who is the owner of the rail lines and Amtrak along with BNSF who lease the lines as well in order to fix the route and bring it up to modernized methods of operation. The engines 07 & 93 will need to be over hauled and the passenger cars will need a good face lift. Then the new owners can look into acquiring new engines and passenger cars if need be. Now if they want to operate at high speeds they will have to work with NMRX railroad to install radio equipment along with trackside equipment from i25 to Lamy. At this time due to no dispatching takes place after i25 the train is rated at 20 mph. From Santa Fe depot to i25 SFS operates under the authority & protection of NMRX railroad which allows them to operate faster than 20 mph.

Not to damper anyone’s hopes for these railroads, just wanted to let y’all know what needs to happen before anyone can ride them. It’s easy to watch a news story and say “cool it will be operating by next year”

Things to do on a budget in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Budget Traveler

17. November 2020.

Perched in the high desert of New Mexico, Albuquerque combines all the contemporary appeal of a modern urban city with plenty of remnants of its Spanish colonial past. For the former, the city’s bustling downtown district is where to head, while the Old Town, dotted as it is with historic adobe building and shops selling Native American handicrafts, is steeped in Spanish heritage.

Wheels Museum

Anyone with a penchant or curiosity about transport history should head to this fascinating museum, located on the site of the historic Santa Fe Railroad Shops in the city’s downtown district. More

Albuquerque Progress

Albuquerque Progress was published by Albuquerque National Bank from 1934 to 1965. During this period, the city’s population grew from approximately 30,000 to over 200,000 people. Albuquerque Progress was designed to record Albuquerque’s growth and to promote the city to potential investors and residents. The magazine’s black and white photos are often the best visual record we can locate individual structures at the time they were first built.

Santa Fe Shops Issue

Silver Iris Restoration

When the Railroad Was King
BY Rick Nathanson / Journal Staff Writer
Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

It’s the holiday season, when Christmas trees suddenly sprout from living room floors, many with model trains circling colorfully wrapped boxes of presents – some perhaps containing a new train set or a coveted railcar.

Whether it’s a Lionel or a Lego, Bachmann or Bowser, kids and adults still love trains.

The folks at Albuquerque’s Wheels Museum are particularly fond of Budd trains this holiday season, after being given a completely restored, 85-foot-long private railcar made in 1952 by the Budd metal manufacturing company of Philadelphia. More


Built by the Budd Company in 1952 for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy’s “American Royal Zephyr.”; it was one of five in the “flower” series which ran on the American Royal zephyr overnight between Chicago and Kansas City. The car was built as a 6 roomette, 4 bedroom, 6 section sleeper, and later operated on Amtrak (with the sections used as crew dormitory space) until 1980. From 1980 through 1984, the car was used by the Association of American Railroads at the FRA/AAR test facility in Pueblo, Colorado. The car is completely self-contained with a galley, showers, and dining/lounge area. Has been in private car service since 1984.


The rail car restoration is being done for the Wheels Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Mr. Kurt Olsen. The museum plans to join the Silver Iris and a 1937 Acoma First Class Lounge Car. Upon completion, the train will run excursions between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Plan Ahead – Swap Meet and Car Show Postponed

The WHEELS Auto Parts and Car Show fund-raiser scheduled for (May 3, 2020) has been postponed, but not cancelled.

WHEELS will post the information about the time, date, and location in a future newsletter.  Booths will be available to sell and/or display

  • Auto parts 
  • Jewelry
  • Crafts
  • Tools
  • Collectibles

Corporate sponsorships available.  Non-profit and government organizations welcome.

To assure that a booth space will be available to you once we obtain more event details, please submit an email to with “Swap Meet” in the subject.

The 1930’s Home Exhibit.

WHEELS is duplicating life in the 1930’s with an exhibit of  furnishings, appliances, literature, entertainment, etc., used during the heyday of the steam locomotive.

We’ve been generously donated several pieces of furniture as well as appliances, and we are looking for more.  If you have anything that might be used in this exhibit, no matter how large or small, please contact Leba (, or phone the museum at 505-243-6269 and leave a message.  WHEELS is also seeking volunteers to assist in the development of this project.  Interior decorating from 90 years ago will be a whole lot fun!

Silver Iris Passenger Train

Work on the air brakes of the Silver Iris is moving ahead.  Numerous rubber hoses, heavy parts, and a great deal of expertise have gone into getting this beautiful 85 foot long, stainless steel private rail car ready to run.  

This car was donated to WHEELS, and we’ll certainly keep everyone informed about the improvements, developments, possible excursions, and visits to see this “baby” with eight bedrooms and ten bathrooms.   Think about “Rail Heritage Tourism.”

New Exhibits When WHEELS Reopens

  • Vintage Studebaker Automobile
  • Hand Built Race Car
  • Military Artifacts
  • Rare Crosley Automobile
  • World War II Harley Davidson Motorcycle with Side Car
  • Model Planes
  • Remote Control Planes
  • Full Size Ultra Light Planes
  • American Flyer Model Trainsle

Call for Volunteers

WHEELS counts on volunteers to get multiple jobs accomplished.  We love that we can depend on many talented people in our community.  Please think about which of these jobs you would like to do, and contact WHEELS (505-243-6269):

  • Displaying and cataloging model airplanes
  • Displaying and cataloging model trains
  • Converting our library into a 1930’s home.  
  • All gauge model railroad engineers to run the trains
  • Large and small display builders for our new exhibits.
  • Speakers bureau for transportation related topics
  • Gift shop workers
  • Fundraising Events
  • Membership Events
  • Grant Writers

WHEELS exists thanks to the help and friendship of our wonderful volunteers.

The WHEELS at WHEELS are Turning!