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The Historic Railroad Buildings of Albuquerque Part 5

An Assessment of Significance
Chris Wilson

Albuquerque and New Mexico Industrial Architecture
There has not been a comprehensive survey of industrial architecture in New Mexico. Working from industrial census figures, however, it is possible to identify the other employers which may have had facilities comparable in size to the Albuquerque shops. Employment in industry–mining and manufacturing combined–in New Mexico in 1919 totaled 13,343 but declined to 11,462 in 1929. The largest single establishment was the Phelps Dodge copper mine at Tyrone with something over 1,000 employees, That innovative company town, designed in 1914 by Bertram Goodhue, was later demolished to make way for an open pit copper mine. The Albuquerque locomotive shops in 1919–after the new roundhouse was constructed but before the new shops were-already employed 970, the second largest industrial facility in the state. Three of the four other facilities in the state with over 500 employees were coal mines. The coal mining areas active at the time were Madrid, Gallup and Raton, all of which have long since been abandoned. The above-ground, wooden, mining structures at Madrid, for instance, collapsed into ruins about 1980. The fourth facility was a copper mine, the location of which has not been determined. (21)

In Albuquerque, the largest industrial companies after the locomotive shops each employed fewer than fifty people. Most of the structures associated with these early Albuquerque industries have been demolished, including wool scouring mills, a foundry, flour mills, early water and power plants, brick kilns and warehouses.

The only important historic, industrial structures remaining besides the locomotive shops are the Southwest Brewery, a multi-story brick building erected in 1899 (listed on the National Register of Historic Places, March 30, 1978), the Prager Power Station built at the American Lumber Company yards in 1904, and the Wool Warehouse built in 1929 with a reinforced concrete frame and brick curtain walls (also listed on the National Register, July 23, 1981). The most important still standing reinforced concrete structures which predate the 1914 roundhouse are the three-story Rosenwald Building, a department store built in 1910 (a City Landmark and listed on the National Register, June 29, 1978), and the Indian Curio Store of 1912. (22)

Railroad Shops in New Mexico and the West
Over half of the manufacturing workers in the state in1919 were employed in steam-railroad repair shops, including, in addition to the Albuquerque shops, two facilities with between 250 and 500 workers and five with between 100 and 250, These undoubtedly were the roundhouses and minor shops at Las Vegas, Clovis, Belen, Raton, San Marcial and Gallup, and additional facilities at Deming, Lordsburg, Vaughn, Tucumcari and Roswell. Roundhouses at Raton, San Marcial and Gallup have been demolished. The 34-stall Las Vegas roundhouse built in 1917 was listed on the National Register September 26, 1985. The 12-stall Clovis roundhouse is included in a pending National Register nomination of Historic Railroad Properties of Eastern New Mexico. A handful of small brick and stone shop buildings from the turn of the century remain at Chama where they continue to be used by the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. (23)

When interviewed by telephone, the architectural historians at the state historic preservation offices of Kansas, Texas, Colorado and California knew of no research or historic building nominations covering roundhouses or locomotive shops except for the Historic Preservation Certification statement on the five-stall Belt Line Roundhouse, built in San Francisco in 1913. A leading railroad historian, Welter Grey of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, estimates that there are only 12 to 15 roundhouses remaining on common carrier lines in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states. There may be half as many historic, major locomotive shop complexes. Jim Steely of the Texas Historical Commission estimates that six roundhouses or portions of roundhouses remain in that state. (24)



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.