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Wheels Museum

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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

History

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.

Restoration

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.

Events

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.

January 8, 15, 22, 29 – Sunday morning admission free from 9 am-1 pm at the Albuquerque Museum and the City’s International Balloon Museum.

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.