Some Santa Fe Phone Booths

Last revised: December 25, 2001
Maintained by Evan Werkema.

Santa Fe has used several different types of phone booths over the years. Among wooden phone booths, an article in the May/June 1973 issue of the Santa Fe Modelers Association magazine High Iron by Bill Messecar identifies two general types: square and hexagonal. The portability of these structures makes it hard to pin down what was "typical" for a given area - Messecar found examples of both types within 20 miles of each other in Colorado, and there were variations within each type as well. Wooden phone booths virtually disappeared along the Santa Fe in the west in the 1980's. The photos below show a few of the booths that existed in New Mexico near the end.


In 1986, there were still many phone booths on the line from Clovis to Carlsbad, NM. Many of them were of the style of this booth at Chisum, NM, with board and batten siding and the remains of a window in the door.
Booths also survived at nearly every siding on the line from Belen, NM to El Paso, TX in the 1980's. On this line, though, it seemed as though virtually every booth was different. We begin at San Acacia, NM, north of Socorro, with a booth considerably wider than Chisum's, and clad in clapboard siding.
This booth at San Antonio, NM was generally similar to the one at Chisum, but close examination reveals several differences. Among other things, the booth is a few inches shorter, and the door hinges are on the left instead of the right. Note also the "Telephone" sign above the door.
The booth at Tiffany, NM was the same shape as San Antonio, but with plain board siding and rolled roofing instead of shingles.
At San Marcial, NM yet another switch: the roof peak runs widthwise instead of lengthwise. It's interesting to note that the widthwise orientation was what was specified for single-door water closets. One might guess that phone booths typically having one orientation and wc's typically having the other might not have been accidental.
Way down the line at Vado, NM, a wide booth with yet another siding variation: drop siding. By 1988, the door was off the hinges and the phone was gone. The phone booths on this line started disappearing soon after.
One other variation on the "square" theme were booths like this one on the main line at McCune, NM near Gallup. Another similar booth once existed at Milepost 50 near Suwanne, NM, but in general, this style was less common than the hexagonal style shown below. The red and white color scheme was used extensively west of Isleta in the late 70's, spreading into Arizona and even a few places in California.


Hexagonal phone booths existed at nearly every siding along the main line between Dalies and Gallup, NM until the installation of CTC in the mid-1980's. This booth at Dalies, with a type of board and batten siding, was typical. The hexagonal booth Bill Messecar found at Husted, CO in the 1970's had thin vertical tongue-and-groove siding.
The junction at Isleta, NM had a hexagonal phone booth painted in more typical Santa Fe colors: colonial yellow with a red roof. For the batten-counters, this booth has two battens per side versus Dalies' three, and the roof pitch is shallower.

Other ways of doing it...

Basically a more robust version of the square booth, this concrete and steel booth was found at Novice, TX in 1992.
The un-booth: a simple phone box on a pole, with hand-painted lettering so crews will know what it is. This one was located at Dalies, NM.

Back to Santa Fe Structure Galleries

Back to Santa Fe Subjects