A big passenger train engine is capable of pulling extra weight and can travel for miles. However, there’s something unique about a steam locomotive, an iron dragon from the past. A steam locomotive restoration project started in 1999 by the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society lasting more than two decades is nearly complete. For the first time in 65 years, the train is back to life.
The Santa Fe 2926 was gradually losing its spark when the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society bought it for a measly $1 token payment. And now, after 20 years, the train has been restored by volunteers.
On Saturday, July 24, the train moved itself using steam power for the first time since 1953. “Under strict supervision by the Federal Railroad Administration and piloted by a professional railroad engineer and crew, AT&SF No. 2926 successfully rolled under her own steam power around 3:44 p.m. Saturday, July 24, 2021, for the first time since the locomotive was taken out of service in 1953 and placed in a city park in 1956,” the group responsible for the restoration explained in a statement, which includes footage of the train’s movement down the tracks.
The Santa Fe 2926, weighing more than 250 tons, is the largest passenger engine ever built. It runs on oil instead of coal and was made by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1944 for the Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. It transported cargo and people across the American Southwest.
The train restoration project is taking place in New Mexico. For now, it is limited to just 91 meters (300 feet) of the track. However, the restoration team aims to expand it in the future, allowing nostalgic passengers to experience one of these fantastic steel beasts that made our way to the Industrial Revolution.
These projects are not a guarantee that the steam engine will be rolling at full capacity ever again. But they are sure to bring us back to the humble days when public transportation began.
Now, the 2926 is not just an antique piece; it is a living legend.