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Ghost Rails of New Mexico

Dr. James H. Olsen, Jr., PE

LAKE VALLEY BRANCH:  Photos taken in 2015 near the connection to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (AT&SF) mainline between Hatch and Deming, NM.  Branch northward to Lake Valley, NM to service silver mining operations in the late 19th century.  Home of the famous Bridal Chamber at Lake Valley.  A pocket the size of a dining room produced over 2 million ounces of silver.

SANDIA PARK:  Grades constructed on the Santa Fe Central Railroad to connect the Hagan Coal Mine branch with the line that ran northwest of Moriarty, NM.  Actual rail connection was not verified and never completed but grades still visible.

CARTHAGE MINE:  Coal camp about 10 miles east of San Antonio, NM from where branch line was connected to main AT&SF main line.  Parallels portions of US380.

CARRIZOZO TO COALORA BRANCH:  Southern Pacific Line branch from Rock Island main line at Carrizozo and went east over Indian Divide to serve coal camp at Coalora, NM and Capitan in the early 20th century.  Some grade still visible from US380 between Carrizozo and Capitan, NM.

MAGDALENA BRANCH:  AT&SF line built in late 1800s to service cattle ranching around lead/zinc mines around Magdalena, NM, connected to the main line at Socorro, NM.  Portions of old grade and trestle piers visible north side of US60.

SANTA FE NORTHWESTERN RAILROAD:  Built in 1920 from Bernalillo past what is now the Jemez Canyon Dam up to San Ysidro, NM where it branched to the north to serve logging industry around Gilman, NM and points north.  Western branch went to La Ventana, NM to serve underground coal mines that closed during the Great Depression.

CLAYTON TO BOISE CITY, OKElkhart (KS) and Santa Fe Railroad connection branch to Burlington at Clayton, NM.  Line abandoned around WWII but grades still visible along US412/56 between Clayton, NM and Cimarron riverbed crossing west of Boise City.  Line was abandoned before WWII.

EL PASO AND NORTHWESTERN:  Railroad from Tucumcari to Dawson, NM in the Vermejo River canyon to haul coal to smelters in southwestern Arizona (Bisbee and Douglas).  Crossed US56 eight miles east of Springer at a location named Taylor Springs.  Dawson, NM was the location of two horrific mine disasters in 1913 and 1923 and the company town was abandoned in 1950.

NM CENTRAL RAILROAD CROSSING AT KENNEDY, NM:  NM Central Railroad (standard gauge) ran from Torrance, NM up through the Estancia Valley and on to Santa Fe.  It overpassed the main AT&SF line at Kennedy, NM west of Galisteo.  The line was abandoned around WWII.

DENVER & RIO GRANDE RAILROAD:  Narrow gauge from Antonito, CO went down the “Chili Line” past Taos Junction, down the Barranca Hill grade to Embudo, crossed the Rio Grande at Otowi Bridge, and on into Santa Fe.  Line was abandoned in 1941. 

CARLSBAD POTASH RAILS: AT&SF lines constructed NE of Carlsbad, NM to serve the underground potash mine and load out facilities.

RIO GRANDE WESTERN NARROW GAUGE:  Served Farmington, NM with a narrow gauge line constructed along the Animas River south from Durango, CO.  Line was abandoned in 1968.

KIRTLAND AIRFORCE BASE (KAFB) RAILS:  Rail spurs from the main ATSF line (near the old maintenance shops) that went eastward to serve the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM.  Some rail still intact but unused for decades.

ZUNI MOUNTAIN RAILROADS:  Some maps & figures and a PDF copy of the Zuni Mountain Railroads by Vernon Glover and Joseph Hereford, March 1990.  No other digital photos.  Included USGS maps which show old grade alignments/locations.


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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.

Saturday, September 30 and Sunday October 1, 2023. One of the nation’s largest operating steam locomotives, former Santa Fe 2926, will be on the move and park next to the Albuquerque Rail Yards on Saturday, September 30 through Sunday, October 1. WHEELS will have a booth at the site. Please come and visit us. For more information go to: www.2926.us

Saturday, October 21 2-4 pm. “The Great Wheels Museum Train Robbery!” Dr. Ronald Lah of the Wheels Museum with a group of local history reenactors will present the program. It will include:
Screening with discussion of the 1903 film, “The Great Train Robbery,” and the “Lawmen Train Cars” that were developed for rapid deployment after a robbery.

Discussion of the historic Socorro and San Marcia, New Mexico train robberies, and the accuracy of train robbery depictions in movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid.”

Reenactment of an Old West train robbery staged in and around the Wheels Museum’s train coach car.

Donors to the Wheels Museum Fundraiser are encouraged to take a seat in the train coach and present your donation when the "Train Robbers" go through the car. Visitors are encouraged to wear some period style Old West apparel like bowler and feathered hats and bonnets, pin-stipes, vests, and boots.

Only non-functional firearm props will be used in the re-enactment. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, October 28, 2-4 pm. Headset Dance Party. Dance wearing headsets to a great variety of musical choices. Admission Free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

Saturday, November 4, 11 am. “A History of Albuquerque Comedy or How I Got My Kicks on
Route 66.”
Ronn Perea. Ron's presentation will give you a unique insight into a part of Albuquerque
Culture and we promise you that you will laugh out loud throughout his talk. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, November 4, 2 pm. "Albuquerque History Challenge: Education and Fun" Roland Pentilla is an Albuquerque historian who frequently conducts downtown walking tours on behalf of the
Albuquerque Historical Society and Historic Albuquerque, Inc. Come to experience our own “Jeopardy” version of Albuquerque history complete with raffle prizes for the correct answers. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, November 25, 10 am. “Walter steps up to the plate”. Author Sue Houser discusses her book about twelve-year-old Walter wants to spend the summer of 1927 watching his beloved Chicago Cubs play baseball. Instead,Walter must leave everything he knows and loves to accompany his mother to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place he has never been to live with relatives he has never met. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

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.