ATSF 2-8-0 870

History

Locomotive 870 has had one of the more varied careers among preserved Santa Fe steamers. It began life as St. Louis, Rocky Mountain, & Pacific #101 in 1905, the first of five 2-8-0's constructed by Baldwin Locomotive Works for this northern New Mexico shortline. A Baldwin builder's photograph shows the 101 proudly bearing St.L.R.M.&P.'s corporate emblem...the Swastika. At the time, the ancient symbol had far more innocent connotations than it later acquired. The builder's photo also shows that the engine was built with slide valves, which were eventually replaced under Santa Fe.

The St.L.R.M.&P., in common with many other "Pacifics," the never made it to the west coast, or for that matter to St. Louis. The railroad's promoters (two of whom were from St. Louis) were primarily interested in tapping the coal resources surrounding Raton Pass in New Mexico. Santa Fe acquired the St.L.R.M.&P. in 1913 and operated it as a subsidiary, changing the name to Rocky Mountain & Santa Fe in 1915. Engine 101 retained its old number but with a new set of reporting marks. In 1924, the R.M.&S.F. 101-class consolidations became the A.T.&S.F. 870-class.

In 1940, Santa Fe sold three 2-8-0's (769, 870, and 874) to the Albuquerque & Los Cerrillos Coal Company, which operated a coal mine at Madrid, NM served by a branch from the Santa Fe main at Waldo. The locomotives were never relettered. As the demand for coal dropped in the 1950's, the Madrid mine was shut down. The branch was abandoned in 1959, and 769 and 870 (with 874's tender) were left to rust amid the decaying ruins of the coal operation at Madrid.

In the late 70's, the old Madrid townsite, by then a ghost town, was sold off in individual lots. The town gradually gained new life as an artist community and tourist stop. Locomotive 769 was cosmetically restored and incorporated into the "Old Coal Mine Museum." 870's resting place was outside the perimeter of the museum, but it too was given a fresh coat of paint. This view of 870 on July 1, 1984 shows the locomotive following its paint job - still derailed and neglected, but looking a bit better than it had a few years before.
In 1989, the city of Santa Fe Springs, CA acquired the 870 and moved it to their community for display. At least part of the journey was by rail, though not on the locomotive's own wheels. The engine and tender were presumably trucked from Madrid to a suitable loading site and loaded onto flatcars. They were then picked up by the Albuquerque - Santa Fe local. In the photo at left, the manifest of the local sits in the Albuquerque, NM yard on April 14, 1989 shortly after arrival, with the usual hoppers of landscape rock and a few boxcars bracketing the unusual cargo.
While New Mexico didn't take particularly good care of the only extant locomotive built for a New Mexico railroad, Santa Fe Springs more than made up the difference. The locomotive was beautifully restored to its post-1924 Santa Fe appearance and placed on display in Heritage Park at 12100 Mora Drive. It goes without saying that restoring the locomotive to its as-built, St.L.R.M.&P. appearance, complete with slide valves and appropriate emblems, would be difficult both mechanically and politically.

References

1. Colorado Rail Annual No. 23: Santa Fe in the Intermountain West, Boulder, CO: Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, 1998.
2. Myrick, David F., New Mexico's Railroads, A Historical Survey, Revised Ed., Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1990.
3. Pounds, Robert E., Santa Fe Depots - The Western Lines, Dallas: Kachina Press, 1984.
4. Worley, E. D., Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, Dallas: Southwest Railroad Historical Society, 1965.

Back to Santa Fe Preserved Locomotives

Back to Santa Fe Subjects