Steam Locomotive 2926

Built in 1944, the 2926 locomotive ran a million miles before retiring in 1953. Lovingly restored by the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society, her whistle now blows again.

AIRED: October 16, 2021 | 0:27:10

Frederick Hammersley Foundation...

New Mexico PBS Great Southwestern Arts & Education

Endowment Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation

...and Viewers Like You.














[Rail yard sounds]

>>John Taylor: This locomotive is an

icon of New Mexico history.

It was built in 1944 in Eddystone, Pennsylvania.

It ran a million miles for the Santa Fe, carrying passengers,

troop trains, and freight.

Weighs a million pounds and was rated at 100 miles an hour.

[Train Whistle]

It was probably the pinnacle of the steam

designer's art, built with slide rule technologies,

long before computers were used to design this sort of thing.

>>John Taylor: Our restoration actually began in 1997,

when the organization was founded.

We pulled the locomotive out of Coronado Park,

where she had sat for 44 years, slowly rusting away

She was just a derelict.

She was destined, as all of the other 2900s were,

for the razor blade factory.

So we began our restoration lovingly

taking each piece, pipes, valves, components,

overhauling them, replacing them, and then putting

them back on the locomotive to restore her to her former glory.

Part of the restoration involved removing almost three miles

of boiler piping and completely replacing it.

We had to completely replace the lagging on the

on the boiler because asbestos is no longer permitted.

We replaced or restored almost a thousand of these

stay bolts that hold the firebox in the boiler.

[Steam venting]

The 2926 is an extremely complex piece of machinery

and the wheels are actually pushed by 700 degree

superheated steam, so this is a powerful locomotive.

It produces almost 5 000 horsepower.

[Bell tolling]

These wheels are amazing.

They're 80 inches in diameter.

The thing was built for speed.

A hundred miles an hour was the rated speed.

The bearings, this bearing weighs 370 pounds.

[bell tolling, pistons pumping]

Controlling this locomotive,

a million pounds at a hundred miles an hour,

requires a real finesse by the engineer, who's sitting here,

and the fireman, who sits over there.

The tender alone holds twenty four thousand five

hundred gallons of water.

The boiler holds six thousand gallons of water.

So this thing has to be controlled very carefully.

Requires a lot of finesse between the engineer and

the fireman, who provides the steam and the air.

This is where the fireman sits.

The fireman controls the fuel and the air and steam

from these various manifolds to help the

engineer operate the locomotive.

He maintains a fire in the firebox between

1800 and 2700 degrees Fahrenheit, which means he

has to be very careful about keeping water over

the firebox so that it doesn't melt.

These gauges all help him do that.

There are gauges for flow, for water.

There are gauges for pressure and level in the boiler.

These are real important and the fireman

is not really a secondary person.

He's just as important as the engineer.

One of the most important aspects of a steam

locomotive is maintaining the water supply.

This tender is huge.

It holds 24,500 gallons of water, like a modern swimming

That water is critical to maintaining steam of course,

but also keeping the firebox covered.

It evaporates a hundred gallons a minute of water

at sixty miles an hour.

[Locomotive sounds]

>>John Taylor: One of the remarkable things

about this restoration is how the community,

both the community of Albuquerque

and the railroad community across the country,

have come together to support this.

We've got about two hundred thousand volunteer man hours

bringing engineers out of retirement who had worked on

[Train bell ringing]

>>John Taylor: When we ran it in July,

just back and forth here, people were so excited.

People were crying because it was the first time in

66 years this gal had run on her own steam.

And the engineer said he didn't

like moving it back and forth here.

He said it was like driving a Corvette in a parking garage.

This locomotive wants to be back on the main line pulling

From a personal point of view, I really feel a relationship.

It's almost like she's got a personality.

When I come down and see this locomotive,

it just makes me happy.

It's something that's an icon of engineering.

It reflects the history of how we made this nation great.

And railroads are so important to the history of New Mexico.

They essentially opened New Mexico

This locomotive is very special, not only to the

people who work on it every week and have been

doing it for 20 years, but to the people of New Mexico,

because it represents a critical aspect of our history,

and we here at the 2926 are so proud of her.

And not only that, but it's a heck of a lot of fun.


Berea's connection to trains dates back almost

to a time when it was home to one of

the largest producers of sandstone in the world.

Key to its success was the establishment of rail

service in 1876 and the opening of the Berea Union

Depot that connected the city to the world.

- It all started with the quarries and then they

started shipping it out by rail.

The original Berea station was about a quarter mile west

of where we are today and it was a dilapidated

old wooden building.

The citizens of Berea voted to have a nice

station built using the sandstone from the quarry.

And that was around 1880, '80s.

The development of new better building materials

chipped away at the use of sandstone.

Coupled with the decrease in passenger rail service

and new ways of moving freight in 1958 the depot

closed and rail service to Berea stopped.

Across the country rail service slowed and

companies merged or went bankrupt.

- With the start of the interstate system

passengers declined because people now had

vehicles, airplanes.

There was no need to travel by rail when you get to Chicago,

instead of eight hours, one hour.

So that's basically why that happened.

In 1974 to save the rail industry the US government

enacted the Regional Rail Organization Act,

the first and a series of laws designed to consolidate

bankrupt lines under a single brand,

operating under the name Conrail.

- Well, it was Consolidated Rail Corporation.

The government started to eliminate routes or

abandoned certain sections that weren't profitable.

If they're both going to the same place,

there's no point in doing that.

And all the eastern roads were Conrail.

[Whirl for the railroad]

In 1997 two rail operators purchase Conrail from the

Just feet from where the Berea Union Depot once

stood rail lines from two companies come within

yards of one another, creating one of the

busiest crossing points in the country.

- Norfolk Southern and CSX went in and got everything

and then divided it up.

Prime example is right here at the Berea Union Depot.

The original train was all New York Central, original

tracks were all New York Central.

And then CSX took this half of the tracks, which

bypasses the lakefront on the other side of the tracks

it goes downtown, which would have been into the terminal.

So they divided up the, what they, you know,

the pie, so to speak.

Today trains run nonstop through Berea.

- Generally speaking somewhere between 100 and

160 trains, both on the CSX and on the Norfolk Southern.

It's a relatively cheap, generally speaking,

way of transporting things, automobile carriers,

and the covered box cars that transport cars all

Again, you could never move that many vehicles

without the use of a hundred million more vehicles.

And then of course you've got your road ware,

your gasoline consumption, and a diesel runs very efficient.

[Train Horn Bellowing]

Train watching isn't an expensive hobby.

Some simply sit and watch while others invest in

binoculars, cameras, notepads, and scanners.

- Basically it's up close and personal without any grief.

You pull into a parking lot and you're

10 feet away from the trains.

And again, there's so many trains that go through here,

so many different movements,

that it's an easy spot for people.

Some people I actually jot down the engine numbers,

you'll see large flat cars with farm equipment,

they come through here a lot.

There's also gravel trains.

You have, of course, your fuel, oil, gas, mainly oil.

You also have grain cars, cement.

Every once in a while you'll see something from

my far out west, Burlington Northern,

Santa Fe, Union Pacific, even.

And that's just, it's wow, you know?

Just saw a new car.

[Train zooming by]

Railfans take pictures of trains, note their time,

direction, and often take video as a way of documenting

the legacy of this important mode of transportation.

- To me, railroads are fascinating.

The locomotives, the size, just the sheer power

that's pulling all this stuff.

The diesel engines are very powerful nowadays.

And then they like to photograph stuff because

20 years from now, what you're seeing today will

be gone, like steam engines.

And it's just a fascinating thing to watch,

similar to if somebody likes airplanes or jets, you know.


At the turn of the 20th century, Akron became the

fastest-growing city in the country.

Fueled by the rubber industry, it doubled its

population, with tire companies like Goodyear,

Firestone, and General establishing their

headquarters in town.

To honor the contribution of the men and women, who

worked in the factories, the city of Akron and the

Akron Stories Initiative are installing a statue

celebrating their heritage.

It started in 1876, when a group of local Akron

business leaders enticed the

B.F. Goodrich Company to establish itself in Akron,

wooing to get them here because carriage tires

were coming in demand.

And it wasn't long after that, that Goodyear and Firestone,

right around the turn of the 20th century, followed suit.

And then in the early 20th century, General Tire

joined them to become sort of the big four of the

American rubber and tire industry.

>>David B.: The so-called big four produced a

variety of products.

Tires were the main product, with the

explosion of the automobile, but they also

made other parts for cars, belts and hoses.

During the war, the rubber companies were huge part

of the war effort, they made rubber rafts,

they made blimps, which were observation balloons,

they made life vests.

Goodrich expanded into other products.

So Goodrich was making golf balls, and shoes, and

all of these other rubber products.

And so, if it was made of rubber it was made in

Akron pretty much.

The boom led to spinoffs of other local businesses.

There were businesses that supplied the carbon black

that makes tires black.

There were businesses that supplied the chemical that

makes the lettering on the sides of the tires.

There were businesses tire building machines.

All manner of support, to the manufacturing part of

the industry, was taking place here.

At its height, more than 130 different rubber

manufacturers operated in the Akron area,

employing 85,000 workers.

Two-thirds of all tires produced in the US came from Akron.

The city became known as the rubber capital of the world.

My mom worked at Mohawk Rubber for a little while

in the '50s as a single mom.

And so I would say that the rubber companies were

so instrumental in providing well-paying jobs for

families so that they could then lift their families up.

The tire factories employed people in every

aspect of the manufacturing process.

From the beginning of the process where the

chemicals were mixed in a hot filthy room, really

terrible jobs, but those led all the way up through a

hierarchy that ended with the tire builders themselves,

who were known as kind of the kings of the rubber industry.

They were treated like royalty.

They were the highest-paid jobs.

They were the most desirable jobs.

However, it wasn't a glamorous way to make a living.

The hours were long and the work was hard and dangerous.

People had to scrub their houses because of the smoke.

You know, the stench was terrible,

kind of like the first responders.

Now they had to go in their basements and wash

down before they even come in the house because of

the lamp black that they use as the basis for the tires,

the so in their you know, in their skin and in there,

just it stuck to everything

In the sixties. The rubber industry declined of

the big four tire companies.

Goodyear is the only one still headquartered in town.

Today Vestiges of the industry remain, but recognition

of the factory worker has gone overlooked until now

We have statute two rubber people that

started the companies.

Of course we have Stan Hewitt.

We have a lot of things that draw attention to

those that actually were heads and started all the businesses

There's a Charles Goodyear monument downtown.

And there are other kinds of monuments to the

founders of the companies to the people who made the money,

the big money but there isn't really a

representation of the common person who really

represented what tire building was to Akron.

I think this just such an appropriate and long

needed contribution to the city and recognition

and the lives that were kind of devoted to that industry

To pay tribute to the people who kept those

factories humming, the Akron stories initiative was created.

The group's mission is to collect document and

archive Akron's past.

Together with the city of Akron they spearheaded an effort

to erect a statue honoring the rubber industry workers.

I think it's entirely appropriate.

It's kind of like it reflects the craft of the worker.

And I, I think it's a great monument to an

important part of Akron's life.

>> David B.: The artist's tasked with sculpting the

statue is Alan Cottrill.

His challenge was to create a sculpture that represents every

We don't know who this worker was.

It's sort of like the quintessential image of

that person represents scores countless tens,

if not hundreds of thousands of people

whose lives were devoted to that kind of work.

Stories from Akron rubber workers are also being

collected and shared on a kiosk by the University of Akron.

An announcement of the installation date in downtown

Akron at South Main and Mill Streets is expected soon.


[Slides exchanging in a projector]

Well, the exhibition is called,

"The Neighbors Slideshows for America"

It's five commissioned photographic

slide shows or photographic portfolios,

from five artists who lived and work in America.

We invited these five artists to give

us a look at their community.

The idea really is to sort of get a composite view of

America at a time when that composite view is

being contested seriously, contested both in our

electoral process but also in the culture.

So what we wanted to do is to basically hand off the

idea of coming up with that composite view.

To five brilliant photographers.

So each of them gave us they were digital.

So we put these into slide format.

So believe it or not there's still places that

will make slides for you.

So you get the idea of being in a darkened room

with the sound of the slide projectors changing.

So what sort of brings up that whole

nostalgic aura of being in a community,

watching slides together in a darkened room.

[Slide Changing]

So what we wanted to do at the museum with this show

was really to appeal to some of that too,

to appeal to that community, maybe

lost community or community in construction.

You know, this is a very interesting,

shall we say time for our country?

There's a lot of division.

There's a lot of mistrust.

And I think this is a really good time to remind

ourselves of who we are and what makes us strong.

And that's really our diversity.

There is a, a great photo by Kathya Maria Landeros

of probably the daughter of a farm worker and remember

farm worker Latino holding a sparkler during the 4th of July.

There is a beautiful picture of a young boy

dressed in hasidic clothing, overlooking the

Brooklyn Queens expressway in Williamsburg America's city.

There is a picture by Kurt Hammelburgof men taking

down a flag, and it seems to be draped all over his

head with cornfields behind him.

And then there's a lot of photographs of a family.

Even though I do photograph in my family

and in communities that I know, it just feels like

peopl very vulnerable right now.

Think I'm just becoming more resourceful and finding

ways to continue creating the work that I need to make.

But in a way that truly, you know,

feels safe to me right now.

We have each one of the projections taped,

videotaped and available on the website,

which is the way viewers will be able to experience the

show essentially until we hit phase three and we can

allow a limited number of people to walk through.

But we kind of wanted to hedge our bets, not

knowing what's gonna happen.

Could we make it both real and virtual?

The challenges are, it's never going to be the same

as walking into a gallery and seeing work firsthand.

And having the experience of being able

to actually be in that space.

And you can converse with the works.

You can see one work next to another work and see

how the curator has placed them in conversation.

And so it's never gonna be the same as that real life

kind of acquaintanceship with the works.

On the other hand, it's always there when you want it.

And the other hand, it makes the work available to them,

really broad range of people.

And, you know, an almost unlimited number of viewers.

We are in apart together mode.

And I think this is one way in which we can arrive at some

more of that togetherness and I think that's fundamental.

Right now what else can you do?


We are planning on always having some kind of

virtual element tour exhibitions, even when

we're gonna be completely open.

And so I don't think that's ever going to go away.

I think we're just, I think we artists and curator,

et cetera.

I think we're just on the threshold of what virtual

exhibitions can eventually be.

So it's kind of exciting to think of the landscape

that's out there that we can explore.


New Mexico PBS dot org and look for COLORES under

What We Do and Local Productions.



Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:

Frederick Hammersley Foundation...

New Mexico PBS Great Southwestern Arts & Education

Endowment Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation

...and Viewers Like You.

[Closed Captioning by KNME-TV]


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