|Albuquerque MP 902.4|
far as the AT&SF was concerned, the real Continental Divide was Albuquerque,
New Mexico. Located not quite mid-way between Chicago and Los Angeles, everything
surrounding Albuquerque, both east and west, defined the great and empty
West. The last major town west of Kansas City, or even Topeka, was Albuquerque;
and the next major town wouldn't be until Los Angeles. Although it was and
is New Mexico's largest city, some would argue that Albuquerque isn't a
major town, but rather a major oasis for the transcontinental traveller.
And at one time the case could be made, as the city's employment relied
heavily on the Santa Fe and then later on the auto-service trade for Route
66. But for the railroad it was here that the speedy Super Chief paused
on its impossible 39 hour 45 minute dash to the coast long enough to catch
its breath, freshen-up, and take a drink of fuel before resuming the race.
Belen, 30 miles down the river, served a similar purpose for freights. All
towns west of Albuquerque were created by the railroad in order to serve
the railroad: Gallup, Winslow, Seligman, Needles and Barstow. Nothing but
endless desert until the ocean.
The Santa Fe system was divided into 4 Grand Divisions: The Eastern Lines, Gulf Lines, Western Lines and the Coast Lines. Within each Grand Division was a number of local divisions. In a testimony to it concentricity, three of the four Grand Divisions met at, or near, Albuquerque. The Eastern Lines, with the Colorado Division, terminated from the east (north) at Albuquerque. The Western Lines, with the New Mexico Division, started west (south) from Albuquerque. The Coast Lines, with the Albuquerque Division, started at Isleta (west). But no matter how important Albuquerque or Belen was to the Santa Fe, none of the Grand or Local Divisions were headquartered at either location. Of particular interest is how many senority lists did Albuquerque, which is a crew change point today, maintain? One for each division?
Unfortunately, for all that is Albuquerque proper, there is little here to detain the tourist. The once great Harvey House, the Alvarado Hotel, was demolished in 1972. The depot, pictured above in 1991, succomb to an arsonist in 1993. On its spot the city of Albuquerque is construting a near replica to serve as a transportation center. All that remains of the orignal depot complex is this niffty freight house located south of the old hotel complex and the old Western Union office.
|Albuquerque Freight House. Pictures taken on 1 July 2000.|