PHOTO RECALLS DAY RAILROAD MADE ITS SANTA FE DEBUT.Byline: MARC SIMMONS
Whenever I have a question about the history of New Mexico The History of New Mexico was first recorded by the Spanish who encountered Native American Pueblos when they explored the area in the 1500s. Since that time, the area has been under the control of Spain, Mexico, and the United States, respectively. railroading, not one of my specialties, I'll generally go to an expert on that subject -- Vernon J. Glover of Rio Rancho.
Recently, I asked him to help me out in identifying a photograph, published in 1920, that was captioned, "The First Train Into Santa Fe." A further line indicated that it had been taken at Lamy.
The scene shows an engine with baggage and passenger cars parked next to a two-story station. On the platform facing the camera is a file of passengers, most of them formally dressed, who seem to be posing for the photographer.
Could this be an authentic picture of the first train, I wondered? Its date of arrival in the capital varies, depending upon which history book you consult.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AAR reporting marks ATSF), often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the largest railroads in the United States. The company was first chartered in February, 1859. had reached Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. , N.M., on July 4, 1879, and continued laying track westward up to one mile per day.
From Galisteo Junction (renamed Lamy), an 18-mile branch from the main line was extended to Santa Fe, allowing the first train to reach here either on Feb. 9 or Feb. 16, the two most common dates that appear in print.
So my inquiry to Glover concerned not only the authenticity of the "first train" photo, but also resolution of the confusion over the date of arrival.
With regard to the second matter, he responded by letter: "The New Mexican for February 14, 1880, a Saturday, clearly reported that the ceremonial first train arrived on the preceding Monday, February 9."
Glover adds that Feb. 9 was also the date that Chief Engineer Albert A. Robinson certified the completion of the branch in his filing with the secretary of the interior to obtain the right-of-way across public lands.
"That settles that," he notes with finality. Glover explains, however, that in the days prior to Feb. 9, dozens of railroad workmen would have appeared on the roadbed road·bed
a. The foundation upon which the ties, rails, and ballast of a railroad are laid.
b. A layer of ballast directly under the ties.
2. The foundation and surface of a road. smoothing the grade, building bridges and culverts.
"The quantities of rail, fastenings and ties," he says, "required a work train coming up from the junction. I estimate that the construction locomotive would have reached Santa Fe itself to bring in final track materials at least three or four days before February 9."
So would that have qualified as "the first train?" Obviously not in the eyes of Santa Feans. As the newspaper revealed on the 14th, the grand ceremony and welcome took place on the previous 9th. That would seem to confirm that the train arriving on that day was the first official one.
In any case, local residents turned out en masse to greet it. A resplendent re·splen·dent
Splendid or dazzling in appearance; brilliant.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin resplend procession formed on the west side of the Plaza led by the 9th Cavalry band (a Buffalo Solider unit), along with Gen. Edward Hatch and his staff from Fort Marcy.
Federal and county officials, members of the territorial legislature, teachers and students of St. Michael's College St. Michael's College may refer to:
At the newly constructed depot, flowery flow·er·y
adj. flow·er·i·er, flow·er·i·est
1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of flowers: a flowery perfume.
2. Abounding in or covered with flowers.
3. speeches of welcome were delivered and the last railroad spike was hammered down by Gov. Lew Wallace, "amid the huzzas and loud applause of spectators."
On south down the main line at Bernalillo, Albuquerque, Belen, Socorro, San Marcial and points beyond, New Mexicans expressed their glee at being "linked by the iron chain to the United States."
As for the later date of Feb. 16, 1880, Vernon Glover tells me that was the start of scheduled train service out of Santa Fe. Some writers take that to be the actual "opening of the branch track."
And about the photo at Lamy that led me into this investigation, he says it is certainly of a much later date and is simply not the first train at the ceremony of Feb. 9.
Of course, I had hoped otherwise -- that the fancy-dressed crowd on the platform might represent dignitaries from Las Vegas and points east on their way to participate in the capital's forthcoming celebration.
Alas, that was not to be!
Historian Marc Simmons is author of numerous books on New Mexico and the Southwest. His column appears Saturdays.