Fixing Stuff

Engine repair shop.

I’m sure that you remember that I lived in Albuquerque for about five years as a refugee after New Orleans was about 80% flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s a bit of irony, but I didn’t make these photographs at that time. I made them well before.

I like New Mexico so I traveled there frequently. It was on one of those trips that a friend organized a tour with a couple of The Wheels Group marketing folks so we could make a few pictures.

This amazingly huge buildings were the railroad shops for steam engines. Repairs made here. Complete rebuilds were made there because team engines have to be rebuilt every 18 months. And, Santa Fe could actually build an engine there although most engines were built at the manufacturers factories.

It was closed in 1980 when Santa Fe decided to move the diesel shops to Cleburn, Texas and San Bernardino, California. Steam engines were not used by the middle 1950s.

While touring the facility I was truly impressed at how neat and clean the buildings are. Usually when buildings the size of these are abandoned a lot of junk is left behind. This building was pristine.

There’s a reason for this. Santa Fe sold the entire yard — 18 buildings in total — to the City of Albuquerque who is trying to either sell it or repurpose it. It is a location for many movies, mostly action films. Trivia item, the building in the first picture is 57 feet tall.

Oh, The Wheels group is mostly a volunteer group who love trains. They tried to do something at the engine yard but the cost was well beyond them.

They did manage to rebuild an old steam engine that was a static display at a park. It took them almost ten years but they did it.

Maybe I should bring those folks to the farm.

You might remember that the back few acres of our land has a small Civil War era engine yard located there.

I own two small switching steam engines. They were abandoned sometime in the 1930s when my spur was cutoff from the mainline. They’ll cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild if I can find the parts (Santa Fe made their own parts in Albuquerque.)

Lucky me.

It’s all in the details.


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