An Introduction
The Railroad and What it Stands for in America
Steve Glischinski for Trains Magazine: March 2019

In anticipation of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific duly celebrating the Golden Spike Centennial, it's only fair that we look at the progress and changes American Railroads enjoyed. The mistakes and hardships they suffered at the hands of competition and burdensome regulations. Then their final prosper as the playing field of transport businesses was leveled. Or in the case preventing companies from making expansion, went away altogether.

When we look at America and its transportation habits, the train is not as big a player as it once was, and certainly not to the extent of the automobile. But it certainly is an iconic role compared to the airplane. Especially after 9/11 made many people wary of air travel, the railroad's seemingly desperate situation ended ever since its roots in the late 1960s.

After a while, I've decided to give my train TL another go. Special thanks to @TheMann, @WaterproofPotatoes, @Lucas, and @Confederate Liberal for their roles in helping to redevelop TTL.
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Taking It From The Top: The ATSF's Santa Fe Subdivision
- Headline from Santa Fe New Mexican; June 10, 1879

"At first, I didn't get that fellow in Dodge City who said the railroad's basically trying to just see what sticks to the wall. Now that they're blowing up entire hills just to build to Santa Fe, I can see what he meant now."
- The journal of an ATSF worker; April 5, 1880

During the construction of the Aitchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe's mainline westward, the city of Santa Fe has been insistent on being link to the trunk line from Chicago to the Golden Coast. For most of this time though, Santa Fe has been unable to find a way to directly serve the city due to the nature of the terrain surrounding the city. Building from Las Vegas was simply not a possibility because of the mountainous terrain, where tracks light enough to get there would have been some sort of narrow gauge. However, another answer did come soon thereafter during studies of the terrain near Cañoncito.

Studies by ATSF track gangs discovered that it would be possible to build directly into Santa Fe. Such a line, they proposed would be possible if they built northwest from Cañcion, a few miles southwest of Glorieta. From there, the surveyors proposed, the line would be built parallel to the Old Las Vegas Highway, then Pecos Trail, into downtown Santa Fe. From there, the line could then dip back down from the city back into the open country side. As part of constructing this route, the ATSF officials already made plans to reuse tracks they already laid down as part of the original plan to connect Santa Fe via a branch to the town of Lamy. With this new change of plans, the railroad would instead build out of Santa Fe to Kewa Pueblo, then on to Albuquerque.

Track gangs reached Cañoncito on December 12, 1879. Aside from a quick Holiday break for Christmas and New Year's Day, the gang worked around the clock. At first, the use of Cañoncito as a springboard to Santa Fe turned out to be easier said than done. There were still many hilly areas for the railroad to deal with, and sometimes, the ATSF's management wondered wether they should just abandon the project completely and go back to the idea of linking Santa Fe with a spur line. However, the track gangs worked their hardest; carving up hills, building a few bridges, and trying to lower grades where possible, and so on. At long last, the line reached Santa Fe on May 23, 1880.

Luckily, the construction southwest to Kewa Pueblo proved to be quicker and cheaper. In no small part because the terrain was much flatter between the two locations. The route to Albuquerque was finally finished on April 23, 1881. Luckily, the toil and trouble proved to be worth the construction process, and goods and passengers were soon flowing into Santa Fe and Albuquerque in spades. Today, it is also a very popular railfan spot due to the heavy prominence of its twists and turns and bridges into Santa Fe - making it an amazing spectacle that often involves front and back helpers in the steam era, and on the freight trains of today.


The date is March 14, 1932 as we see ATSF Mountain #3732 lead the Scout out of the station at Santa Fe en route to Albuquerque.


ATSF Mikado #4002 is checked on near the Santa Fe Union Passenger Terminal, which the ATSF and D&RGW shared after the latter rebuilt their Chili Line in 1904. Considering the presence of what is either a 2900 Northern or a 5011 Texas, it's clear the 4002 has just provided helper service on the steep climb from Cañoncito to Santa Fe itself.


Some things never change, and today helpers are still often used for the climb from Glorieta to Santa Fe. Here we see ATSF #7200, one of several locomotives that was at the time assigned to the Santa Fe District to serve explicitly as helpers. Since then, electrics, which the Santa Fe otherwise abstains from outside of California, are the primary helper locomotives on the line between Kewa Pueblo and La Junta, CO.
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