Trains and Albuquerque, New Mexico have a long history together. If you are a Train aficionado, you probably know that Albuquerque was the ONLY place between Chicago and the Pacific Coast that a locomotive could be repaired or overhauled during the height of the train era in the United States.
The Atchison, Tokepa and Santa Fe Railroads and the Atlantic and Pacific Railroads decided that Albuquerque was to be the A & P’s Division headquarters and the repair depot for them all in 1880, before the rails ever made their way to the Duke City.
From the mid 1880s into the 1920’s were the golden years of the Santa Fe Railroad. The people of the US were obsessed with the west, and in particular the Southwest, and with fevered determination they visited, settled and developed here with the railroads at the center of it all.
Albuquerque could not help but to grow as a direct result of the Railroad’s decision to make the Duke City such an important location.
Today, the important and more modern rail yards are south of town in Belen, NM, but the structures of the old rail yards, shops and offices and their ghosts prevail. These old yards and buildings are used often by the New Mexico Film Industry, and a new museum, the Wheels Transportation Museum, that will document and preserve this important piece of American History is also being developed here on this important property. In the meantime, it will continue to draw interest as a location for films like the last Terminator movie.
It is a shame that the people of Albuquerque were unable to stop the destruction of the Alvarado Hotel, which was the largest of the Harvey Houses and was an intrigue part of the fabulous Albuquerque Train Station north of the old depot. The ATSF tore it down in 1970, but at least someone has come
to their senses now and the remaining building of this complex have been designated as a city landmark and it seems it will escape the fate of the hotel and Indian curio shops.
Watch for the opening of the Wheels Transportation Museum of Albuquerque in the future.In the meantime. visit the old yards and feel the presence of the ghost of the past while visualizing it’s vision for the future, preserved. Enjoy these photos, past and present. Their are many photo ops at the old yards. If I can get these shots with my phone camera, imagine what you can do with a real one.
The old photos, (above), are from 1943 and I found them in the Commons on Flickr. I have left them uncropped in deference to the photographer, Jack Delano and so that the difference between old and new will be evident. Enjoy!
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