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Rail Yard Could Be a Movie Set

By Alan Schwartz
Letters to the Editor – Albuquerque Journal

Wednesday, August 27, 2003
THE RAIL YARD PLAN ENVISIONED BY THE URBAN COUNCIL seems to be a redux of the Embassy Suites project, although admittedly on a more grandiose scale. Create a few hundred jobs for what the industry now euphemistically calls “hospitality workers” immediately adjacent to a poor neighborhood. The only thing missing from this scenario is the request for tax abatements, credits and bond subsidies.

The city and state claim to be serious about pursuing the growth of local motion picture production. I can’t think of a better potential location for studio activities than the rail yard. In addition to the large buildings, which could be suitable for conversion to sound stages, the vintage buildings easily lend themselves as period sets, and the site is suitable for real time rail operation. One can easily envision a scenario where an operating Wheels Museum collection could be used by movie production companies.

Compared to the minimum wage housekeeping and wait staff jobs offered by a hotel/convention/expo center, studio production demands a wide range of skills from the arts and crafts— actors, directors, gaffers, electricians, carpenters, drivers. The salaries from these jobs could easily support Downtown housing and revitalization of the Barelas neighborhood.

Motion picture production in Albuquerque may or may not be a viable idea, but it will never have a chance of coming to fruition if we don’t get off our backside.


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.