ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - After rusting away for half a century, one New Mexico locomotiveis closer to breathing fire and riding the rails again.
The volunteers rebuilding it passed a big milestone onSaturday.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Locomotive 2926 crisscrossed the Land ofEnchantment, hauling both passengers and freight.
After it was retired to a park, the New Mexico Steam Locomotiveand Railroad Historical Society rescued it.
Enthusiasts have been busy stripping 2926 down to the bone for acomplete overhaul.
The tender that carried oil and water already looks new.
Albuquerque radiologist Mike Hartshorne usually works in nuclearmedicine, but in his spare time, 2926 is his patient.
"Probably, this is the pinnacle of steam locomotives in theUnited States. This is about as high tech as a locomotive ever gotbefore they stopped building them," Hartshorne said.
Saturday was special because it was time to start putting bigpieces back on the train. The rusted out cab had been removed andrebuilt.
The volunteers held the safety lines as a donated crane gingerlylifted the heavy train cab back into position.
"To see this locomotive being moved out of the park back in 2000and then into the restoration site that you see now, it'll be readyto run in two or three years and we'll definitely take it to the 4corners of the state," Chuck Mangold with the NM Steam Locomotiveand Railroad Society said.
Society members said they are pretty proud of the fact they havepassed the halfway point on the big project. They're going to beshowing off all the work at an open house in about 10 days.
They hope to have the locomotive running again for New Mexico'scentennial birthday in 2012.
You can learn more about the project on the organization's Web site .
Tragically, the volunteer who refurbished the cab, Jim Hills,was injured in a fall at the site Saturday afternoon. On Sunday hepassed away.
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