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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.

CARIZOZO TO COALORA BRANCH:  Southern Pacific Line branch from Rock Island main line at Carizozo 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 Carizozo 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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Kathy Rasmussen
If you love history about trains and just the local area for current activities where movies are shot this is the place. Donations if you feel like maintaining history.
Kathy Rasmussen
S Holden
At the museum on business. Great history there, nostalgia, and wonderment. Looking forward to the continued growth of the museum. Support your local museums!
S Holden
Vanessa Au
The Wheels Museum is volunteer run and was such a treat! We visited a bunch museums and this sort of unofficial museum was, hands down, our favorite. The door was locked when we arrived (I think by accident) but they hurried to let us in when I called and welcomed us warmly. They let my 6yo run the little train we all rode on. Another volunteer gave him a little matchbox car to keep. There were tons of all sorts of antiques on wheels, and some not on wheels. I was amazed by the collection and the enthusiasm and knowledge of the volunteers. Don’t forget to stuff cash in their donation box. They truly deserve it.
Vanessa Au
Armando Diaz
A great experience for the whole family! A spectacular place of pure nostalgia. Everything wheels and some things that fly . Soon you will see my artwork in this museum. Make the time to see it you won't regret.
Armando Diaz
Tara C.
Love the museum and the very friendly volunteers that run the place.
Tara C.
Bruce Guest
Fun place to stroll about !
Bruce Guest
Andy Vigil
It was exactly what I expected to see. The old photos and books gives you a picture back in time. The model railroad were very nice. We were the only ones in there and they turned the models on for us.
Andy Vigil
Julia Knight
Julia Knight


Jazz Music Events
Featuring some of the top Jazz live music acts in the Southwest, the "Jazz on WHEELS" series begins in October and runs through the end of December. The WHEELS Museum has partnered with local events production company Mariposa Music,, to utilize the power of music to benefit the museum. The Jazz on WHEELS performance will begin at 2pm on selected Sundays. Visit mariposamusicrocks.com for more information.