Santa Fe Burro Cranes

Last revised: May 20, 2005
Maintained by Evan Werkema.

Named after the favored pack animal of the old west, Burro cranes are small four-wheeled cranes manufactured by the Cullen Friestedt Company. There appear to be two principal models used in railroad service, the Model 30 and the slightly bigger Model 40. The boom can be fitted with a number of different tools depending on the assignment, from a clamshell to an electromagnet to a simple hook. Santa Fe was one of many railroads that used Burros for maintenance of way. While they owned both types, casual observation suggests that they had far more Model 30's than 40's. Casual observation fails, however, to discern any pattern in the numbering scheme. If you have pictures or information to add about Burros in general, or Santa Fe's Burros in particular, drop us a line.

A Gallery of Burros

61 and 1758
ATSF 61 in the foreground and 1758 in the gondola are both Model 30's. One of the easiest ways to distinguish a Model 30 from a Model 40 is the set of pulleys mounted on the cab roof of the Model 30. On the Model 40, the pulleys are larger and located in front of the cab. Burro 61 was an Albuquerque resident for much of the 1980's and early 90's.

Another Model 30, this time in the 700-series. Burros are typically moved from one job to the next on a rider flat like Wt-T #206201. A ramp for lowering the crane down to the rails at the work site can be seen ahead of the 706. The lettering in front of the number reads "Section 73, Enid, Okla."

ATSF 1761 is yet another a Model 30. The rider flat is Wt-O #191526.
AT 1771 is a Model 40. Apart from the model number cast into the rear of the frame, note the heavier pulleys mounted in front of the cab that identify a Model 40. The cab is also slightly larger.

Burros are self propelled, and couplers at both ends of the cab allow them to move a few gondolas or flatcars around as needed at the work site.

By 1997, the BNSF merger had taken place, and the crane was wearing both its old Santa Fe number 1771 and a new BNX number 1200089.

Also on the frame were instructions on how to jump-start in case of a dead battery.


ATSF 1775 is another a Model 40. The rider flat is #206201, the car previously seen under Burro 706.
ATSF 1776, a Model 30, is shown with a string of three gondolas in the house track at Glencoe, OK on the branch to Stillwater. Some rigid reinforcing braces appear to be in place between the boom and the cab. Despite its number, this crane reportedly kept its plain yellow dress during the bicentennial celebrations.

ATSF 1782, yet another Model 30, is shown riding Wt-T #206102 at Las Cruces, NM in 1990.


The Albuquerque Deadline, 1988

Several dozen Burros were relieved of their booms and stored on the whisker tracks at Albuquerque, NM in 1988. This view shows two Model 40's, 1773 and 1777, framing two Model 30's, 128 and 1761, allowing easy comparison of the differences between the models.
Model 30 #138 at Albuquerque sans boom. Most Burros had the rectangular BURRO name on the cab, but this crane had a somewhat more elaborate logo including a depiction of its namesake beast of burden.
Model 30 #139 shows off the collection of levers and pedals used to control it.
Although the collection of Burros at Albuquerque looked every bit like a scrap line, ATSF 1761 apparently survived. It is shown here, boom and all, riding ATSF 206090 at Isleta, NM in 1994.

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