Some Santa Fe Motorcar Sheds

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

Santa Fe System Standards Vol.2, published by Kachina Press, contain plans for two different types of buildings that could be classified as motorcar sheds: material houses for signal maintainers, and section tool houses. Many of these structures once stood along the Santa Fe, but their numbers dwindled as maintenance practices changed and motorcar use declined. Most were gone by the time of the BNSF merger. Below are a few photos of structures that existed in the field into the 80's and 90's. If you have pictures or information to add, drop us a line.

Material Houses for Signal Maintainers

Surprisingly intact and well maintained (for 1992), this structure at Goldthwaite, TX is an example of the Material House for Signal Maintainer with Two Motorcars. The plan, dated April 1931, appears on p. 243 of Santa Fe System Standards Vol.2. Note the sliding front doors. Ordinarilly, a panel of heavy timbers would have been placed between the rails of the tracks in front of the house, with timber "rails" leading from the tracks to the doors to make it easier to lift a motorcar off and roll it into the house. These presumably once existed here at Goldthwaite, but had been removed by 1992.
This structure once stood at the east end of Abo Canyon at Scholle, NM. It appears to be based on the Material House for Signal Maintainer with One Motorcar plan, but turned 180 degrees, with two additional hinged doors cut into what would have been the back wall. The front sliding door shown in the plan is actually on the back of this structure. There are a few other deviations from the 1931 plan shown on p.242 of Santa Fe System Standards Vol.2, including window size and wall height, and it is possible that this structure was built to an earlier plan. Note the timber panels between the rails of the main line, and the "rails" leading to the doors of the house. An additional set of timbers outside provided a spot for a trailer.

Section Tool Houses

The plan for Santa Fe's Section Tool House appears on p.196 of Santa Fe System Standards Vol.2. The plan is dated 1931. One of the few lines Santa Fe built after that date was the secondary line from Amarillo, TX to Las Animas, CO. The pair of section tool houses at left were located south of the depot at Dumas, TX. They are fairly faithful to the standard, but lacked the louvred vents on the ends. The window carved into the end of the near structure was presumably a later addition. The far house also has a second sliding door hung outside the front wall, versus the original door hung inside the wall.
This section tool house at Stockton, CA was located across the tracks from the interlocking tower. It was built or moved to this site some time after the third tower was constructed in the 1940's. Its dimensions are similar to the 1931 plan, but it has board-and-batten siding instead of clapboard. This house was torn down in 1997.
Hanford, CA boasted two section tool houses north of the depot: one similar to Stockton's, and one reflecting yet another variation, drop siding and a hip roof. Wasco and Shafter, CA boasted similar hip-roofed section tool houses into the late 90's.
Examples of this style of board and batten section tool house could be found along the original main line in New Mexico down to El Paso, TX. The building is a little bigger than the ones at Hanford and Stockton, CA. This structure shown at left was located at San Acacia, NM; in the early 1980's, others could be found at Bernalillo, Socorro, Tiffany, and Rincon, NM. The blue and red sign next to the door is the standard "Danger - Keep Lights and Fires Away" sign.
This shed stood across from the depot at Hurley, NM into the late 1990's, long after the Southwestern Railroad had taken over the branch from the Santa Fe.
Not resembling anything in the system standards books was this motorcar shed at the west end of Abo Canyon at Sais, NM. It was generally similar in design to smaller shelters, without doors for motorcars, elsewhere along the Belen Cutoff.

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