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