The Wheels Museum is a non-profit organization that works to preserve the history of transportation and travel, especially as it pertains to Albuquerque and the west. The museum is in its early stages and is located on the site of the Santa Fe Railroad Shops and yards in Albuquerque’s historic Barelas neighborhood downtown. The museum has model trains, full sized vehicles, a gift shop and more.
Built in 1914 during the railroad boom, the Albuquerque rail yards serviced steam locomotives for the Santa Fe line. The yards were in operation from about 1915 to the 1960s, and during that time, the area around the railroad boomed and created what we now think of as old Albuquerque.
The railroad depot created jobs, and businesses sprang up to service the railroad’s travelers as well as those who worked at the yards. The Alvarado Hotel was nearby until it was destroyed in the early 1970s. Rail related businesses thrived for the decades that the trains ran.
Current plans are underway to restore the yards, with long term and short term goals. One of the first things to open will be a blacksmithing shop where visitors can see the dwindling art and its craftsmen.
The Wheels Museum will be part of the area’s renaissance. In the meantime, the Wheels Museum is gathering artifacts to house within its large, airy space. The museum has on display wooden wheel carriages, horse buggies, gas pumps, wagons, carts, cars, model railroads, and even a locomotive or two. The museum is home to the central idea of transportation in Albuquerque, and how that evolved over time. So a model of a horse might stand next to a Model T Ford, which are not too far away from a Mobil Oil sign of a red winged horse, which could be found at gas stations up and down America’s roadways.