Locomotive restoration nearing completion

By: Kai Porter, Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque citizens have a chance to help preserve a piece of railroad history right here in the city.

The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society are restoring a classic Santa Fe Railroad steam locomotive built in 1944.

Volunteers have put in more than 125,000 hours restoring the locomotive in a downtown Albuquerque work yard.

“Santa Fe ordered 30 of these locomotives and there are only 6 left in existence today,” said Rick Kirby, the historical society’s chief mechanical officer. “This will most likely be the only one that runs again.”

Kirby says the locomotive should be up and running next spring.

The city of Albuquerque acquired the locomotive in 1956 and it sat in the middle of Coronado Park until 2000 when the historical society bought it for just one dollar.

Now that it’s being brought back to life the historical society desperately needs an engine house to protect it from weather and vandalism.

“The engine house will protect the engine and the insulation from the all the elements,” said Kirby.

The society needs to raise $200,000 for the engine house, he said.

One of their members will pitch in the last $100,000 if they can raise the first $100,000.

Kirby says preserving this piece of railroad history is vital.

“Without the steam locomotive we wouldn’t be where we are right now. Albuquerque is what it is today because of the railroad building their shops downtown.”

The historical society has already raised nearly $40,000 through a gofundme account.