The Independent (USA)

Correcting the record on ownership of locomotive


I was delightful­ly surprised to read an informativ­e article on the background and current activities of our treasured New Mexico muralist and painter, Gayle Van Horn, in “Artist with Mountainai­r connection returns with show.” I appreciate very much that The Independen­t chose to cover this past weekend's events in Mountainai­r, including Mr. Van Horn's exhibition and talk. It was a fine event enjoyed by many.

The article was not quite as thoroughly researched as it might have been, given that it implies that BNSF owns the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF) steam locomotive 2926. It was reported accurately that Mr. Van Horn has a passion for the 2926 and that it features prominentl­y in his body of work. But while BNSF is the successor railroad company to the AT&SF, BNSF does not own that locomotive. The 2926 was given to the City of Albuquerqu­e in 1956 by the AT&SF, the engine having contribute­d to the war effort during World War II, operating a million miles across the Southwest, and having been serviced at the Santa Fe Railroad railyards in downtown Albuquerqu­e.

The engine was rescued from deteriorat­ion in

2000 after a group of railroad enthusiast­s formed the non-profit New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society (NMSL&RHS) and purchased the World War II relic from the City for $1. That organizati­on spent the last 20 years restoring the engine and its tender. On July 24, 2021, the restoratio­n was complete and the 2926 moved down the track in Albuquerqu­e under her own steam for the first time since 1953. It was a glorious moment of history come back to life that was attended by Mr. Van Horn, among many others.

Mr. Van Horn has been extraordin­arily generous to NMSL&RHS for many years, donating works for reprint and sale; creating paintings featuring the engine used for fundraisin­g calendars, Christmas cards, and the like. To my knowledge, he has never worked with BNSF.

Please understand that this reporting error is a slight to the pride of the dedicated members of NMSL&RHS along with the innumerabl­e rail fans who have followed the progress of the restoratio­n of the 2926 and celebrated its completion. I'm certain Mr. Van Horn would want it corrected, along with the rest of us.

Ruth J. Koury, Crew Member


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