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Presidents Message

Dear friends,

2022 is starting out with a lot of great steam for WHEELS. Our Silver Iris 85 ft long gorgeous sleeper car is in Santa Fe coupled with the Acoma lounge car to show off at the legislature and we are in negotiations for a potential lease with Acoma and Sky Railway in Santa Fe. We are also working with San Bernardino steam locomotive 3751 for a potential new home here. Also, other rail operators are contacting us. We have been contacted by Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures for possible rental of our Silver Iris. A train car prop was made at WHEELS for a film recently and was left here for our use, holds about 35 people and is 1880 vintage.

We are holding many events, had a fabulous jazz concert recently, Truck History Club, Jaguar Club, Corvette Club, school events, churches. We are always seeking groups to visit WHEELS, as many as 50 people at a time.

We have new volunteers, and this group is headed by Dr Tom Sims.

Other new exhibits are a 1918 Model T red Ford pickup-one owner, and a travel trailer built out of Rt. 66 billboards formerly at Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati.

Our model train stars are working on every gauge, and we hope for more train runners.

Also, we seek docents and to keep the museum open more hours. Please visit us Monday thru Thursday mornings 9-12 and many other times for special events.

We are a 501c3 nonprofit community organization devoted to creating WHEELS, providing education, saving history and culture and helping with economic development of New Mexico. We currently have about $3 million in exhibits in our 21,000 sq ft building on the downtown rail yards. Full size exhibits, models, airplanes hanging from the ceiling, model cars, all antique rail artifacts, a fire truck, and so much more. Ride our train that goes around the exhibits with as many as 25 people.

Please call (505) 243-6269 with any ideas and to help.


NOTE: WHEELS Museum is a 501(c)3 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.  Our 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.  We are trying to capture oral histories of the area as well. 

Every city has a history. Every city has particular aspects, locations, or occupations that have made it what it is today. As Americans moved west, transportation changed dramatically. Over time, people began to settle in or pass through a place called Albuquerque. One native of that city has decided that this “movement” must be maintained and celebrated. Wheels Museum of Albuquerque, New Mexico came from the inspired mind of Leba Freed- whose family has lived in Albuquerque since the 1920s. In an effort to revitalize the city and preserve the history that made it known, Freed opened Wheels Museum to document the way transportation has evolved within her hometown.

Freed is passionate about Albuquerque’s history. She tells us that, “When the steam locomotive shops were built, Albuquerque was smaller than Belen and Bernalillo. The ATSF brought men in from many parts of the world to build and repair as many as 40 steam locomotives a month. “During WW2, the shops were open 24 hours a day helping the war effort. The shops closed when diesel came to the world.” Freed sees the creation of Route 66 and the rise of airplanes as a vital part of the growth of New Mexico. The state has been through many changes and the evolution of transportation has been an enormous part of that. Freed says, “We see what the last 100 years has meant to progress. Driverless cars and trucks, drones, spacecraft, and much more.”

The Wheels Museum hopes to use these massive facilities to bring culture and history to Albuquerque. The museum is located in a large, historic storehouse – and another building is in the planning stages that would more than double the museum’s current space. The main storehouse of the museum is filled with wagons, farm equipment, vintage automobiles, and rail vehicles and other parts. Other large buildings from the 1920s include a Blacksmith Shop, Boiler Shop, Machine Shop, Fire Station, and a Tender Repair Shop.

“Wheels Museum is the conduit to showcase the past, present, and future of progress through moving.” As the museum grows, more exhibits appear. Freed works with a Smithsonian affiliate and the University of New Mexico, which has helped with a bicycle exhibit, pedal car exhibit, and even a flying vehicle exhibit. The more volunteers and donations that come through, the more exciting the museum will become. Freed’s work has many facets, but she adds, “The most exciting days at Wheels are when we receive new exhibits. Recently, we have been given a very rare spindle from a 100-year-old well in Negra, New Mexico. We have a Dodge Power Wagon recently given by a generous doctor and have just been told that we will receive the 1938 Packard auto that belonged to the 8th governor of New Mexico, Governor Dillon.”

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