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Locomotive Waits for Home To Be Ready

Lloyd Jojola/Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, November 8, 2001

More than a year after its departure from Coronado Park, a city landmark still sits and waits for its next move.

The old steam locomotive, Santa Fe 2926, has stood on siding near Menaul NW next to the main north/south tracks since being moved in June 2000.

But its owner says it could soon be headed to its intended destination: the site of a proposed exposition center and Wheels Museum at the old locomotive repair shops in Barelas. The Urban Council of Albuquerque is developing plans for the site.

“When they have things set up, that is when our locomotive is to be moved,” said Frank Gerstle, president of the nonprofit New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society, which owns the locomotive. That could be within the next few months, he said.

The engine and its tender – a separate car used to carry fuel and water – had been at Coronado Park for more than 40 years before being hauled away. The equipment is from the last group of steam locomotives purchased by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, according to the historical society. Built in the 1940s, the engine and tender, when fully loaded with oil and water, weighed more than 1 million pounds.

The move from the park was precipitated by the Big I project that started about the same time.

“There was no doubt that the access to the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe mainline would have been much more difficult if we hadn’t moved it when we did,” Gerstle said. “There was also a question of whether or not the engine would suffer additional damage because of all the construction going on.”

The equipment has been fenced off and there are regular inspections to make sure no one is occupying the equipment, he said.

Once it is moved to the old rail shops, restoration work will begin.

“We would like it to be a fully functional engine, so that it would be available for excursions,” Gerstle said. The restoration cost won’t be known until the equipment is thoroughly examined, he said.


Railyard Worker Commemorative Plaques. Honor a loved one who worked on the railroad, honor a WHEELS volunteer or honor the WHEELS Museum. WHEELS is now selling plaques with name plates for $100.00 per name.  Keep the memory of these people alive in perpetuity with a gorgeous wooden plaque with brass name plate. Thank those who made our city and state successful, built the railroad, continue to work to preserve our history and create our future. The plaques will be displayed in the Community Room at WHEELS.

Contact Paulette Miller Weir who is graciously supporting the project and has volunteered to orchestrate this work. Her phone number is (505) 227-3270.  Please send checks for $100.00 per name and a few other words such as dates of birth or death or job held to WHEELS Museum, PO Box 95438 Albuquerque, NM 97199 or contact Ms. Miller Weir for any questions.  We can also accept credit cars payment by calling WHEELS-6269.

June 24, 10 - Noon, “LEGO Club Meeting”. See how LEGOS become vehicles, houses, bridges, animals and view amazing Lego displays. Learn how to build with Legos and meet Lego Masters. Space is limited.  Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. Call Leba at (505) 243-6269  or email to Leba4@aol.com.. Admission is free, donations are encouraged.

July 1, 1-2 pm, "Strings and Sings" Robin Howard in concert. “Strings and Sings” is a solo project of singer/songwriter Robin Howard. Robin covers all popular styles of music including Country, Classic Rock, Folk, Blues, and even original tunes. His music has earned him both praise and support from local musicians in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. RSVP:505-243-6269 or email to Leba4@aol.com. Fee: $ 10.00

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.