It’s easier than you may think to visit a historic train that ran during World War II. The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society is a group of volunteers dedicated to refurbishing the AT&SF 2926 steam locomotive. Built in 1944, the train ran over a million miles before being donated to the City of Albuquerque in 1956. After sitting in a park for decades, volunteers rescued the train in 2000, and have been working to get it up and running ever since.
The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society has more than 300 members, and volunteers work every Wednesday and Saturday to restore the locomotive. Anyone can stop by from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and get a free tour. I recently got the opportunity to take one such tour with an extremely knowledgeable volunteer, and it was a fascinating experience.
The train is remarkable to see in-person. The locomotive with all the necessary fuel and water to run weighs about a million pounds. It was capable of speeds up to 100 mph, but it couldn’t go that fast because train tracks can’t handle such speeds. The train evaporates about 100 gallons of water a minute going 60 mph, and can hold about 24,500 gallons of water total. The locomotive isn’t limited by the amount of fuel, but by the amount of water. The train would have to stop every 200 to 300 miles to fill up on more water.
During the tour, you get an up-close look at every part of the train. Among the most impressive parts are the driver wheels, which are 80 inches in diameter. The train has eight total, and they need to be changed every 200,000 miles.
Make sure you head up to the cab on your tour. Inside you’ll see how many bells and whistles (literally) go into making the locomotive run. The train doesn’t have a left or right, or starboard and port side. Instead, it’s based on where the engineer and fireman sit in the cab. If you’re lucky, they may even let you ring the bell!
Along one side of the locomotive are pictures pointing out certain aspects of the locomotive and what the train looked like before restorations began. It is truly spectacular what a little TLC from some very dedicated volunteers can do.
@visitalbuquerque The 🐶 is a proud volunteer! #trueabq #visitabq #freeactivities #abqnm #abqnm505 ♬ original sound - nadim sakha