ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time in decades, the Rail Yards will reopen to a real working steam engine, marking a milestone for a major locomotive restoration project and the city-owned train shop.
The engine is the 2926 Locomotive, and by the end of the month, it will make a two-mile trip to the Rail Yards for a special event. Organizers are calling this an exciting moment, years in the making.
“She’s returning home, and that’s really a fascinating thing for us,” said John Roberts, president of the New Mexico Heritage Rail.
It’s a historic moment the Rail Yards likely hasn’t seen since the 80s. The 2926 Locomotive will be coming back to the site after nearly 25 years of restorations. Built in 1944, the locomotive once traveled from Kansas City to San Diego through Albuquerque.
On September 30 and October 1, the train will make its first run on Albuquerque’s main line tracks since 1956, when ATSF donated the train to the city.
“New Mexico Heritage Rail” is the all-volunteer group behind the renovations.
“It’s really about saving a piece of history, American history, right? Railroads literally built this country, so to see a piece of history, a fairly modern piece of history, go to the scrap yard, we just couldn’t do that,” stated Roberts.
Roberts claimed 2926 is one of the largest working locomotives in the country, standing at 16 feet tall, 120 feet long, and 10.5 feet wide. Earlier this year, it made a shorter half-mile trip to Tractor Brewery.
Roberts said he hopes next weekend’s two-mile run to the city’s revamped Rail Yards will be a tribute to everyone who’s worked on restoring the locomotive.
“We can be proud of what we’ve done and hope that we can keep moving forward, keeping the public interested, keeping something vibrant for the City of Albuquerque for people to come see and do,” commented Roberts.
The renovations on the 2926 Locomotive first started in 1999, and more than a quarter of a million volunteer hours have been spent on it. Volunteers estimate the train now has a value of around $3.2 million.
The locomotive will be on display at that free Rail Yards event both Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1, starting at 10 a.m.