ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been a labor of love for 20 years. Volunteers with the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society have been working day after day, month after month and year after year to restore the Santa Fe 2926 Locomotive that sat for decades in Albuquerque’s Coronado Park.
On Tuesday, the sweet sound of life being pumped back into an old treasure was heard for the first time over six decades.
“It’s a big day. We’re just about to start boiling water in the boiler,” a volunteer said.
Originally built in 1944, this million pounds of steel rode the rails for nine years.
“In 1956 it was put into a city park not far from here, and every kid in Albuquerque came down for a picnic and to play on it, and it sat there and it rusted,” a volunteer said.
But now, she’s roaring and chiming and singing once again.
Getting to this point has not been easy. Volunteers have spent an estimated 203,000 hours making her pristine again.
“We were told by an engineer who once drove this thing that it went 120 miles per hour. That would have been really exciting,” volunteers said.
It’s been an adventure and a challenge for everyone who’s worked on her.
“I never expected to do anything like this in my life,” a volunteer said.
There is still work to be done, but what happened Tuesday is a big step in getting this girl back on the tracks and teaching younger generations about history.
“This was a big part of the way we lived,” a volunteer said. “Doesn’t work that way anymore, but it makes a good lesson to learn and remember.”
The restoration site is open to the public. It’s located in the Sawmill District off Eighth Street. Volunteers say they’re always there Wednesdays and Saturdays without fail.
More than $3 million has been spent on the project so far.