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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 sidewalk, bike path opens around the Albuquerque Rail Yards

by: Chris McKee (KRQE)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For years, it’s been arguably one of the worst walks around one of the most popular event spaces in Barelas, near Downtown Albuquerque. But that feeling may be fading away for most, as the city has finished construction on a big new pathway around the Rail Yards property.


If it Moves, If it Spins, You’ll Find it Here

True West Magazine July/August 2022 
Jana Bommersbach

This truly was the “engine” for Albuquerque.

The first thing Rabbi Isador Freed did in 1920, as he de-parted the train in a dusty New Mexico town, was drop to his knees and declare, “Albuquerque is a special paradise on earth, and we will never leave this place.”

It had been a long journey, as the Rabbi and his family were escaping the antisemitism of Russia. But he was right—they never left, becoming a mainstay family as Albuquerque grew from 15,000 to a half-million today.

His granddaughter, Leba Freed, has honored the family by devoting 26 years to saving that railroad station. (Her father, who was eight when they arrived, grew up to become a major merchant—and a devoted friend to this magazine, advertising for decades.)

“I wanted to give back to Albuquerque,” Leba says.


Rail Yards: What now? City weighs future options

by: Stephanie Chavez Posted: Jun 15, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After more than a decade of work, and millions of dollars spent, the city is now trying to figure out what’s next for the Rail Yards, after they scrapped their original master plan.

“We all know how hard this site has been to be developed,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton, who also serves as the Chair of the Rail Yards Advisory Board. “I think we’re finally in a position where maybe something could happen,” Benton said about the decades-long project.

The redevelopment really started in 2019, after Mayor Tim Keller terminated a contract with Samitaur, a California-based developer, who wasn’t making progress on the project. Since then, it’s come a long way. The city installed utilities, resurfaced the parking lot, replaced the roof, and ripped out contaminated creosote blocks.

“If we’re too restrictive it’s going to put more pressure on getting the site developed and we could be here for another ten years,” said one of the board members, during that meeting. They know one thing for sure, they want the property to remain a public place for Albuquerque residents to enjoy.

There’s a requirement for at least 30 permanently affordable housing units on the property, but the board has a few questions, like if they should allow for more, and where the housing would go. It may take some time to come up with a new master plan, but for now, they’re keeping an open mind.

“We each have a vision of what the site could be,” said Benton. “That applies to everybody who’s ever seen that site because it’s an inspirational place,” he said.

One of the other requirements is bringing one of the original locomotives back to the site. The board is trying to figure out if it could go by the original turntable, or if there’s another place to put it on display.

WHEELS Museum needs more funds to continue journey

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

By Leba Freed / President, Wheels Museum
Janet Marie Coen / Development Coordinator, Wheels Museum

Standing along Second Street in the Barelas neighborhood are the stately skeletons of buildings comprising the once bustling Albuquerque Railyards. Towering above the streets below, these buildings vigilantly kept watch over the surrounding neighborhoods even as they fell into disrepair, with broken windows and the never-ending displays of graffiti.

Upon a second look, passersby get a glimpse of new life emerging from the rubble, too many years abandoned and left to rot away. The Railyards, saved from a destiny like their once neighboring Alvarado Hotel, survived to move Albuquerque and New Mexico into the future.

Bookends on the far north and far south sides of the yards pump in new life to the dormant yards: The Railyards Market and the WHEELS Museum. People are familiar with the summertime Market, held from May to October, and across the railyards is an Albuquerque gem, the WHEELS Museum. The mission of the museum, housed in the storehouse built in 1915, is to collect, preserve, display, interpret and operate artifacts and infrastructure related to the transportation history of New Mexico and the exploration and development of the West.

WHEELS strives to preserve the railyard site, honor the people who have worked there and educate visitors about the history and future of transportation in a way which is quirky, unique and different from any other museum.

Beginning in 1999, the all-volunteer crew at WHEELS began collecting more than $3 million worth of artifacts and exhibits. The warehouse is full of oral histories, tools used by the workers and narratives telling the stories of the railyards specifically. The museum also houses displays of all forms of transportation used in New Mexico, from early carretas used along the Camino Real to race cars and jet airplanes. Model trains run the gamut from steam engines to the modern Amtrak. There are so many stories to tell of the people who worked at the yards, but the museum needs more funding to allow it to expand on the educational mission.

Steam engine 2926 wants to come home to the yard, but our turntable is inoperable. California museums want to bring rail cars for display, but there is nowhere to house them. To preserve the machine shop we need a new multimillion-dollar roof, but no money is available. The museum receives guests from across the country and they all say the same thing: this is wonderful, but you need more room. There are 27 acres of railyards property, but we need money to make the improvements to the infrastructure.

(Former) Gov. Bill Richardson recently expressed interest in helping the museum get what we need to improve the site so our operations can expand. This eclectic museum puts a smile on every visitor’s face and leaves them wanting to see and learn more. The solo fundraising efforts by the volunteers cannot keep up with the funding needs to keep the museum moving forward. To help expand rail heritage tourism and economic development in Albuquerque and New Mexico, we ask everyone to talk to legislators, mayors, the governor and anyone who can help provide funding to keep the railyards moving forward.

If not for the Albuquerque railyards, Albuquerque would not be the city of today, and the population would not have been able to develop the strong middle-class community it enjoys today.

Upcoming Wheels Museum Events

July 31, 2022

Ride the Rails with Pianist Adam Swanson

Date: Sunday, July 31
Time: 3-5 PM (doors open at 2:15)
Location: First Unitarian Church, ABQ (3701 Carlisle, NE)
Price: $ 26 in advance. $ 30 at the door
Purchase: Online at: Hold My Ticket

Adam Swanson is the only four time world Ragtime Piano Champion. He performed at a fund-raiser for the WHEELS Museum in February, 2020, and many were turned away because the concert had sold out.

We have not announced this concert publicly – yet! We want you to have the opportunity to purchase tickets before they’re no longer available. Here’s a link to a few videos from his previous concert:
2020 – Adam Swanson Benefit Concert

Sponsorships to this 5013C organization are available. Sponsors will receive preferential seating. For more information about becoming a sponsor, please contact the WHEELS Museum at 505-243-6269 or email Leba at Leba4@aol.com

Santa Fe Completes Modern Shops at Albuquerque – 1922

Railway Age – August 5, 1922

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe is now engaged in an extensive program of rehabilitation of its extensive locomotive repair facilities at Albuquerque, N.M., which involves the expenditure of more than $2,500,000.


Leba Freed receives the Edgar Lee Hewett Service Award

Leba Freed was chosen for the 2022 Edgar Lee Hewett Award, which recognizes outstanding service to the people of New Mexico, as related to New Mexico history, for her long-time efforts to save the historic buildings of the Albuquerque Railyards and to establish a transportation museum, the Wheels Museum.

The Historical Society of New Mexico (HSNM) recognizes outstanding work by students, professional and avocational historians, and organizations through various annual HSNM Awards. The awards are announced and presented at the Annual Meeting. This year’s NM-AZ Annual History Conference is April 7-9 2022 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

2022 New Mexico~Arizona History Conference Program

Study looks at possibility of connecting major Albuquerque trails

By: Scott Brown Apr 8, 2022

Albuquerque, NM (KRQE) – A new study has been released on the feasibility of connecting the city’s Rail Trail to the Sawmill District. The Spur Line Trail would follow the existing railroad tracks – north at Lomas and Broadway, then west along the Rail Spur Track, which extends to the Sawmill District.

This would be a part of an eight-mile loop connecting major attractions like the Railyards, BioPark, Old Town, and the Sawmill District. A new study says while the trail is feasible, they face some challenges. The study says there isn’t enough of a buffer between the tracks and where the trail would have to go – on two parcels of land.

The city says they could get around it with an elevated trail in this area. Photos show what that trail could look like. To adhere to the style of the area, they would tile it with a design that emulates the Albuquerque Rail Yards.

The study says the trail would have to be done in three phases. They received strong support from surrounding property owners and community members.

WHEELS Museum Spring 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

The wheels at WHEELS are turning very fast and we have a full calendar of events that are described in this newsletter. We are thrilled with all the visitors, groups and interested people as well as new volunteers. Please see opportunities for you to visit with your group or come see us and visit as an individual or family. We are hoping you will call so that we can schedule your group, club, school, church or professional organization. If you are interested in joining us at WHEELS, call Leba at (505) 243-6269 or visit us at 1100 Second St. SW in Albuquerque.

Download the Spring 2022 Newsletter


Leba Freed

Yeida Anderson
I took my son yesterday and the employees were so nice, we got greet by the resident dog Gus so handsome, thank you to the employee in charge of the model trains that took the time to speak with my son about trains. Everything was excellent.
Yeida Anderson
Robert Oberer
One of the docents took a lot of time showing us around !ND took us and the kids for a train ride.
Robert Oberer
Lupita Montoya
Wonderful fun place to learn and see old vintage machinery and photos and you can get a train ride! ❤️
Lupita Montoya
Don't miss this museum! Best kept secret...
Donald Gallegos
Must see in Albuquerque
Donald Gallegos
Henryk Sloma
An eclectic collection of transportation vehicles. Wonderful staff
Henryk Sloma
There is a lot to see in this museum! The volunteer staff was so nice and friendly, our 5-year-old son really loved it. Be sure to bring dog treats for the friendly resident dog, Gus!
Very friendly staff. My niece loved the train ride and learning about all the different types of transportation. Go if you get the chance.
Nice museum, lots o' wheels!


CELL PHONE PHOTO CLASS with Irene Fertik, Professional Photographer Monday, October 17 at 10 AM - noon. Suggested Donation is $20. RSVP: (505) 243-6269 More

WHEELS Sponsored Amtrak Las Vegas Trip October 21-23 Join the WHEELS museum for a scenic fall group trip to historic Las Vegas, NM. Reservation deadline is September 30. RSVP: (505) 243-6269 More

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. RSVP is a must: (505) 243-6269. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. More

Jazz Music Events
Featuring some of the top Jazz live music acts in the Southwest, the "Jazz on WHEELS" series begins in October and runs through the end of December. The WHEELS Museum has partnered with local events production company Mariposa Music,, to utilize the power of music to benefit the museum. The Jazz on WHEELS performance will begin at 2pm on selected Sundays. Visit mariposamusicrocks.com for more information.