The Wheels Museum fuels history in downtown Albuquerque

The Wheels Museum had an amazing opportunity when two brand new cars were donated to their museum. Sara Rose, your Guide to Living Local, and Samantha were there for an exclusive preview of the cars being dropped off, along with a history lesson on the vehicles.

Never heard of the Wheels Museum? “Wheels” is an acronym which stands for “We Have Everything Everyone Loves Spinning” and the museum is about the progress of society through moving. It’s an organization in the Albuquerque Rail Yards dedicated to collecting, preserving and creating educational exhibits about the history of transportation in Albuquerque and New Mexico with emphasis on the impact on the development of the area. Their collections embrace the history of the railroads, the impact of the rail yards on Albuquerque, as well as automobiles, horse and wagon, and other modes of transportation.

It’s located at 1100 Second Street SW, on the site of the historic Santa Fe Railroad Shops in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is now open for small groups, events, tours, and presentations.

Want to learn some fun facts about our moving society? Take our The History of Wheels Trivia Quiz!

Let’s Buy a Train

Let’s Buy a Train
Citylab
Andrew Zaleski Mar 25, 2019

If you dream of roaming the U.S. in a your own personal train car, you still can. But Amtrak cuts have railcar owners wondering if their days are numbered.

When Bob Lowe wants to take a cross-country trip, the first stop for him is 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, where his own private railroad awaits. Sort of.
Lowe owns a pair of railroad cars, artifacts of the pre-Amtrak era, when the country’s passenger-rail network was a glorious patchwork of private operators. One is a Salisbury Beach sleeper car, so named after the shore in Massachusetts, that was originally put into commission by the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1954 and holds 26 people. The other: an old Colonial Crafts, just one of a series of Colonial railcars that entered service on the Pennsylvania Railroad out of Chicago in 1949. It’s got three bedrooms, a drawing room, a buffet kitchen, and a large lounge. So when Lowe wants to take a train from, say, Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., he doesn’t buy tickets for a seat in one of Amtrak’s coach cars. Instead, he asks Amtrak for a tow, essentially hitching a ride in his own cars with family and friends, usually 25 people at a time between both cars.

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About the Author
Andrew Zaleski
DC-based freelance writer Andrew Zaleski has written for Wired, Washington Post Magazine, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Health, and many other publications.

Route 66 Auto Parts Swap Meet and Car Corral

The WHEELS Museum Route 66 Auto Parts Swap Meet and Car Corral

Auto and motorcycle parts | Food Trucks | Raffles | Auction | Souvenirs | Merchandise

Sunday, May 5, 2019
One Day Only 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$2.00 admission fee

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park
Northern Entrance (I-25 Exit 234, Roy-Tramway, South to Balloon Fiesta Parkway)
5500 Balloon Fiesta Parkway NE

Vendor set up at 6:00 a.m.
Reserved space $35.00
Day of meet space $40.00

For information call:
Jim Glover 239-4543
Reservations accepted through April 26. Mail your check to:

Wheels Museum, Inc.
PO Box 95438
Albuquerque NM 87199

Auto and motorcycle parts | Food Trucks | Raffles | Auction | Souvenirs | Merchandise

City invites artists to document Rail Yards before renewal

By Steve Knight / Journal Staff Writer
Published: Friday, September 21st, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City officials are giving more than 50 local artists access to the Albuquerque Rail Yards this weekend with their supplies and equipment to document the historic site before redevelopment begins.
During a Friday news conference, Mayor Tim Keller spoke of the “Artists Days” project, an effort to preserve and archive the current state of the property, which began Friday and continues today. He also outlined plans on proposed improvements to the site that was once a major maintenance facility for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
The city is taking over efforts to remediate and revitalize the Rail Yards after breaking ties with Samitaur Constructs, a California-based contractor hired in 2012 to redevelop the property.
The city’s next steps include increasing security with 24-hour protection, cleaning the site and improving access, repairing roofs and installing utilities and preparing for demolition of small buildings not historically significant.
Planning Department Director David Campbell used the saying, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t know where you’re going” in both English and Spanish to explain the purpose of Artists Days.
“This is the city’s opportunity to take the ‘before’ pictures,” Campbell said. “Someday very soon, we hope, we will be able to celebrate the ‘after’ pictures – the ones that tell us how this place has been transformed. We are so fortunate to have not only the Rail Yards, but to have artists and photographers to document this.”
Keller earlier in the week said the city would stick to a previously approved “master vision” for the 27.3 acre property and break that plan into phases.
The first priority after extensive environmental remediation will be to “activate” the building adjacent to the already-updated blacksmith shop, which is home to the weekly market.
A second updated building will mean additional event space and market expansion.
Keller said he plans to ask for help from the City Council, the Legislature and the governor. He estimated remediation would cost around $8 million and rehabbing the second building would be another “couple of million dollars.”
He said the city is also switching management of the facility over to SMG, the company contracted to run the Albuquerque Convention Center, in hopes of increasing its use.
The rail yards are just south of Downtown, between the Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods. The city bought the site in 2007 for about $8.5 million, with a commitment that redevelopment would include some mixed-income housing and a permanent place for the Wheels Museum. The site consists of 18 surviving buildings erected between 1915 and 1925.

Boilers fired up in old Santa Fe 2926

Boilers fired up in old Santa Fe 2926
By Ollie Reed Jr. / Journal Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 at 6:03pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 at 10:22pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the first time since the 1950s, old Santa Fe 2926 is letting off some steam. About 100 people gathered in the gray, drizzling early morning on Wednesday to watch as, for the first time in decades, the boilers of the old locomotive were fired up in the Eighth Street work yard of the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society.

Plumes of dark, hazy smoke climbed out of the locomotive’s smokestack at about 6:30 a.m., signaling a landmark moment in a renovation project that’s been underway for more than 15 years.

“We got a little more steam testing to do and then we’ll put the pistons on it,” an elated Michael Hartshorne, society president, said Wednesday morning. He said the organization’s goal continues to be to get 2926 up and running on the rails again, perhaps making excursions to the Grand Canyon or the old New Mexico railroad town of Las Vegas.

Santa Fe 2926, a 1944 Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway steam engine, made its last run on Christmas Eve 1953. It was donated to the city of Albuquerque in 1956 and placed in Coronado Park, on Second Street just south of Interstate 40. It stayed in the park, savaged by the elements and used by the homeless as a shelter and toilet, until 2000 when the Steam Locomotive & Railroad Society, organized specifically to rescue Santa Fe 2926, bought the locomotive for $1 and moved it, first to side tracks at Second and Menaul and then, in 2002, to 1833 Eighth NW.

From 2002 up to this week, society members have put in 178,000 volunteer hours and taken in $3.1 million, almost all of it in donations, to restore the locomotive to the smoking wonder it was in the 1940s and early ’50s. It is an undertaking more immense than the locomotive, which is 18 feet tall and weighs 510,150 pounds.

An average of 25 to 35 society members have turned out for twice-weekly work sessions over the years. Parts had to be tracked down in other countries. Parts that no longer existed had to be made. Sometimes, tools, such as huge wrenches, had to be made. Several sections of the boiler, which had worn thin, had to be replaced.

But now, there’s smoke in the stack, fire in the belly of the beast and light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are a bunch of guys and gals who have dumped a lot of time and effort into this and suffered a lot of frustrations,” Hartshorne said. “It feels great when you see it actually works.”

Learn more about the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society and its restoration project at www.nmslrhs.org.

Millions of dollars in cleanup needed before Rail Yards construction begins

KRQE News 13-Feb 26, 2018
Rebecca Atkins ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)
Once full of life, the sprawling 27 acre Rail Yards site looks abandoned. Although it’s been featured in blockbuster films, like “The Avengers,” not much happens there other than the Rail Yards Market.
“People feel like it’s not moving fast enough,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton.
Benton was instrumental in the city’s $8.5 million purchase of the Rail Yards a decade ago. The master plans include shopping, restaurants, housing and an amphitheater. Benton said it’s time the plans come to life.
“There’s a general sense of disappointment,” said Benton.
The LA-based developer Samitaur Constructs has been criticized in the past for its lack of progress. The previous mayor put the developer on notice last year after concerns over delays on the project. They are now required to provide quarterly updates.
Now, comes a huge obstacle in the way. At the last Albuquerque Development Commission meeting, Samitaur revealed the cost for the environmental cleanup at the site.
“The first phase being just under $2 million, and you’re looking at the second phase being $3 million,” said a representative for the developer.
In an audio recording of the meeting, Samitaur said it would cost about $5 million to get rid of asbestos on the windows, lead paint residue, and underground vapors.
“Identifying what the environment is, they’ve checked a box or something, but we’re nowhere near starting, much less coming to a hard figure,” said Benton.
The new administration said it’s a project the city won’t give up on.
“The mayor is very, very committed to making the Rail Yards a viable area for the city,” said Lawrence Rael, COO for the Mayor’s office.
However, he said they’re at a crossroads.
“The issue really is, we either need to begin to have this developer move forward or begin to take a different course with the project,” said Rael.
The city is not responsible for footing the bill, but it could help the developer pursue grants and provide its own funding as well.

New life for La Castañeda in Las Vegas, N.M.

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — For some 50 years, La Castañeda was considered the queen of Las Vegas, N.M. — an architectural diamond that welcomed locals and visitors alike during the days when train travel reigned.

The high and mighty dined alongside the hoi polloi in the hotel’s restaurant and bar, enjoying the famous Harvey House hospitality. The hotel’s 40 rooms were invariably filled with politicians, celebrities, soldiers and travelers looking to stop for the night before moving on, be it northeast out of New Mexico or south toward Albuquerque and then points west.

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Presidents Message

Dear all,

Happy New Year, 

Wheels is making progress with funding now available for planning the code improvements for the building. We are working on funding to do the work, and are part of the way there.  

We are seeking people who can work on a ‘go fund me’ type of campaign and other fundraising efforts. 

The economy of New Mexico has affected us but we hope to be able to open our doors soon to showcase rail and other transportation history, present and future of the southwest. 

Huge thanks to the Wheels board and all the volunteers devoted to creating The Wheels Museum, Inc. 

Love, Leba

Dear WHEELS Volunteer

April 7, 2016

Dear WHEELS Volunteer,

I want to thank you for all of your previous volunteer efforts on behalf of The WHEELS Museum. It has been such a joy working with you. We are making steady progress toward our goal of opening to the public, and as a result you will see progress in formalizing our processes and procedures, volunteer efforts, and of course, building more displays. This will assist WHEELS in meeting state and Federal guidelines and requirements.

We are gearing up for the 2016 Railyard Market starting Sunday, May 1, and running through Sunday, October 30. It is time to start scheduling volunteers to support the Railyard Market. We need 4 volunteers for each Sunday Market.

If you can volunteer for at least one shift, please reply by return email and let us know that we can count on your support over the 6-month Railyard Market season. Be sure to let us know your preferred dates, if possible. We had a lot of fun last year and hope to have even more this year.

Laurie Cady is our new administrative volunteer and will be tracking and scheduling volunteers until we appoint a volunteer coordinator. She can be reached at lcady@q.com. If you have any questions, you can contact her by email or call and leave a message for Leba or Annie at 243-6269.

We are counting on you,

Sincerely,

Leba Freed
WHEELS President