For the first time ever, a public exhibition of images from the
Railyard as it is today. Exhibition Dates: Sept. 15-Nov. 14, 2011 At the Kimo Theater Gallery 423 Central Ave. NW
Albuquerque, NM Gallery Hours can be found listed on the Kimo Gallery site (505) 768-3522 (for gallery info)
On the home page, the most recent posts will appear first; scrolling down will take you to the older posts.

Monday, May 7, 2012

National Train Day at the Rail Yards on May 12, 2012

Come and join in the fun and celebration. The Albuquerque Rail Yards is open to the public this Saturday, May 12th from 10 AM - 5 PM for National Train Day at the Wheels Museum.
Located at the Albuquerque Rail Yards at 1100 2nd St., SW in Albuquerque, NM (from I-25, exit on Lead, turn left on 3rd St., left on Cromwell to 2nd street). There will be model trains and real train rides. A fantastic car show by the Rainbow Riders. Lots of demonstrations, food trucks, the world's fastest motorcycle and music by Twisted Mojo and Jasper McCoy.

You can also buy a chance to win trips on the Durango Silverton Rail Road and the Cumbres Toltec Rail Road!

Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your neighbors! Bring your cameras! If you have never seen the Albuquerque Rail Yard, get ready to be amazed. A stunning and historical architectural site which should be preserved as it is an important part of New Mexico's history.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

With Gratitude...

(posted by Paula Scott of Molokai Girl Studio)

The opening reception for the Rail Yard Exhibit last Thursday exceeded my expectations. I am grateful to all who came. For many, this was the first time they had seen images of the Albuquerque Rail Yard. And, it was a thrill for all of us who participated in the show to be able to hand over a check to the Wheels Museum for nearly $700.00. Thank you to everyone who participated in this show: members of the Enchanted Lens Camera Club, the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Flickr Photo Group, and the invited guests. It was because of your participation that enabled us to hand over this check to the Wheels Museum!

Any of the work that sells during this exhibit will enable us to hand over another check to the Wheels Museum at the close of the show. I doubt that the public will have a chance like this again to purchase images like this-where you can choose from a collection of stunning images of the Rail Yard.

(opening night of the Rail Yard Exhibit)

I had stopped by today to see the work without distractions or interruptions as I really didn't get that chance to do so the other night (understandably so). I also read some of the comments in the guest book and was totally blown away by a guest that wrote that he had worked there:

(comments from the guest book)

It's the third line up from the bottom. I can't tell what the first name is-if it is a woman's name or a man's name. It says, "Worked in the place...takes me back." It is AMAZING that to have someone who worked there sign the guest book. Wow. I hope we get more like that!

A really big thanks to Marc Guiterrez who is the administrator and creator of the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Flickr Group. He was my partner in all of this and I never would have attempted this project without him. And, a special thanks to Tim Anderson who not only helped us navigate the jurying process smoothly, but also was a juror for the show.

Another big thank you to Augustine Romero, who is the curator for the community galleries for the City of Albuquerque. It was through dialoging with him about this show concept and his encouragement to submit the proposal that has made all the difference in the world.

And, last, but not least, to Leba Freed who has been like the Joan of Arc to the Rail Yard. I hope you consider helping out with the cause by way of a donation to the Wheels Museum or becoming a volunteer or a member, or any kind of help. Buy some tickets to their fundraiser on Nov. 12-it will be held at the Wheels Museum which is on the Rail Yard property. If you can't buy tickets and want to help with the fundraiser, they could use some volunteers and donations for the silent auction.

I hope to see you at the Wheels Fundraiser on Nov. 12th!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My first.

If you live in Albuquerque and own a camera, you've probably heard about the mysterious Abq. railyards. I started seriously pursuing my photography in 2006 and it wasn't long after I had purchased my first dSLR and began to go out and shoot I stumbled across some images and accounts from visits to the railyards. I was intrigued, but I didn't know how or where or when. The railyards came and went every so often when I would come across a new image from a flickr friend, or a discussion of how to break in or sneak through without anyone noticing. I always seemed to have something else going on so for those first 4 yrs I admired from afar.

Finally, in April of 2010, I got the chance to go to the railyards as part of a group from the ELCC. I had a good friend in town visiting that came along. We both worried when we arrived and saw the 40-50 people waiting to enter that it was going to be impossible to share the space with everyone. As soon as we walked in, I realized we could have had double that and still had no problems. The space is immense, and oh so beautiful. We walked all around and always seemed to find a new corner that begged to be photographed. The light was continually changing and creating new views, and by the time the 4 hrs. were up, I had taken somewhere around 450 images. I haven't been back since, but I know that there are endless other shots still awaiting the photographer in there.

I am excited for the show and to see all the different interpretations of the railyards, but also for the greater goal that the show is helping, which is the redevelopment of the railyards and opening of the WHEELS museum. I hope we can all do our part to help this along, and I'm really looking forward to what will be a great show with strong sales! There are few places, especially man-made ones, in my opinion, that inspire and promote such creative thinking and motivate a photographer by place alone. This is one of them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Under My Skin

(posted by Paula Scott: Molokai Girl Studio)

I have been to the Rail Yard five times now. The first trip was in December 2008-with permission. It was with a few other friends and we had the place to ourselves save for a few homeless guys living there with their dogs.

I was awestruck IMMEDIATELY.

It takes your breath away even with its age and years of neglect with tons of pigeon poop and feathers everywhere.

What is is about this place that so captivates me?  The immensity. The architecture. All the windows. All the light spilling in. It felt like a cathedral.

How can you NOT be affected by this? The light changes constantly. It becomes a game of cat and mouse if you are a photographer. There is so much to take in while hunting it down.

The relationship with the ever changing light is like a tango. Captivating and seductive.

Or, is it the graffiti? Some of it is downright ugly, but some of it speaks of such creativity.

I can't deny my fascination with this. Or, is it the stories that can be told from all that worked there? 400 people three shifts a day is a lot of people in the day and age when it was going full seam ahead (no pun intended).

This is one of many wash stands that I saw on the second floor. Working on the steam engines was a very greasy job as I imagine it was with the diesel too. I can also see the groups of men gathered around this washbasin getting ready to call it a day and trying to get as much of the grease off of them as possible.

And maybe some were so greasy that they needed to shower off. Perhaps another aspect of the fascination has to do with the energy that you can still feel. It is all a very good energy. The jobs were dangerous and everyone had to try to keep safety in mind and look out for each other. I swear, you can still feel THAT energy.

And then came that day when the gates closed for good. No more work. No more trains coming through. It had to have been pretty upsetting for those who worked there for most of their lives.

It boggles my mind that so many New Mexicans have not heard of the Rail Yard and what it once was. It played a large role in creating Albuquerque's future; how could it not when the Rail Yard employed about 25% of the city's population back then? And yet, so few are aware of the 27 acre site not too far from the city's center.

My subsequent trips there were with the Flickr group in December 2009, and again with the Enchanted Lens Camera Club in April 2010, the media meet this past March and then again last week for a short visit with Leba from the Wheels Museum.

With each visit, I still feel like I cannot get enough of this grande old place. It is under my skin.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The first time I stepped foot through the gates of the rail yards, I knew there was something special to be experienced within those walls. I quietly stood admiring what surrounded me - the soaring steel beams, the grimy colored window panes, the filthy concrete and woodblock floors. In just a few moments, one could see and feel all the years of hard work and neglect that building has witnessed.

I have had the pleasure of photographing this beautiful place on  four different occasions and one visit was no more productive, photographically, than the others but my first was special for the simple fact that I was introduced to the most special set of building the city of Albuquerque has to offer. Hopefully we have not seen the last of this beauty.

Monday, July 11, 2011

For the Love of the Rail

(Richardton, ND, Gumoil Limited Edition Print by Karl Koenig)

(Stirling, Alberta, Limited edition gravure etching by Karl Koenig)

No man (boy) of my acquaintance ever fully escapes the emotional pull of rail travel and the in-your-face power of magnificent locomotive engines--so rich in decibels that they shake the earth and reduce automobiles to the firepower of  house flies.

This pairing of images from the wheat field territories of the U.S. and Canada were chosen to fit a theme of particular interest to me: the historical bond between the continent's food supply and the means of distributing it quickly, cheaply and with minimum spoilage or contamination from insects and rats.

The tall, tin clad buildings seen here were an equally important innovation.  Grain was stored well above ground level.  Gravity then served as the force to channel grain to freight cars quickly and efficiently.  All of this facilitated the economic development of the midwest and to feed the millions on
either coast.

The rail systems crossing New Mexico over the years and the equipment to fix the large heavy machinery justified the Rail Yards at merely a ghost of their previous acres of buildings and track.  A trace of that past is included in the Kimo show in my hand-colored gravure of some stairs which seem to go nowhere at all.

(posted by Paula Scott for Karl Koenig. As you can see, Karl has had a love of the rail system here for quite some time. I met him at the Rail Yard during one of the Flickr sponsored events. It was cold that day in the midst of winter. We were both dressed much in the manner of the Michelin Tire guy. I approached him and we began talking about the space there at the Rail Yard. It's beauty. It's immensity and grandeur. And he told me about his process for gumoil and photogravure prints. Karl's entry to this special exhibit at the Kimo is the only photogravure print in the group-you will not want to miss it!)

 You Tube video of Karl demonstrating the photogravure process

 You Tube video of Karl demonstrating the gumoil print process.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Albuquerque’s Industrial Cathedral

I love old buildings, the sense of time and history, the little, handcrafted touches; an ornately carved cornice or a wildly sweeping staircase. Often these buildings have been abandoned and sometimes I like them better that way. Although, with a few exceptions, I hate to see them torn down because I know they will never be replaced by anything better. Albuquerque recently lost the wonderfully strange Aztec Motel along old Route 66 and, if anything is ever built on that lot again, it will never match the warped charm of that historic motel. You know, if you’ve seen one modern K-Mart or 7-11, you’ve seen them all.

I’ve photographed hundreds of old structures throughout the United States, so, I feel that I can speak from some experience when I say that the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF) rail yard complex near downtown Albuquerque is one of the finest (and most historically important) set of buildings one could ever have the pleasure of setting foot in. Most of the surviving workshops were built around 1920 and used to service locomotives in what was one of the major rail hubs of the Southwest. This means that inside the buildings you get towering ceilings, narrow catwalks, massive cranes, and acres and acres of glass windows, some colored blue and green. When the light hits the windows just right, it is like being in an industrial cathedral. I consider myself privileged to have spent many hours exploring and photographing the complex.

Not too long ago I heard that there were plans to develop the rail yard. I heartily support any effort to utilize the rail yard buildings that does not fundamentally change their character. I understand that alteration would be inevitable, but putting the buildings back to use in some way would be a very good thing. More recently I’ve been told that there has been a breakdown of some kind and that the development plans have been put on hold. Whatever the case, aside from an occasional movie shoot, the railyard still sits largely vacant, looming over the Barelas neighborhood, its ultimate fate still unknown. What I know to be true is that 100 years from now nobody will wander through empty Wal-Marts with any of the sense of awe that one feels in the rail yard. No one will ask: “How did they build this place?” or, “What did they do here?” No one will care when the bulldozers arrive because there are thousands of Wal-Mart buildings, all devoid of character, each one exactly the same. But the ATSF rail yard? Well, there’s only one of those in the world and it’s well worth saving. Hopefully, the photographs included on this site and in the upcoming exhibition convey a fraction of its beauty and grandeur.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My History with the railyard

I stumbled across the buildings when I took a wrong turn from downtown sometime around 1994. As the grandson of a southwest historian, and a photographer, they struck me as a very neat place full of untold history. At the time the lots and even the buildings were visibly full of spare parts, and scrap, and all sorts of junkyard stuff.

I was quite scared of the neighborhood though, as a teenage Caucasian kid, we were always told it was a "rough part of town" and indeed my 2nd trek out to find the railyards had me driving At night under the coal bridge on 1st, and I kid you not! Two guys were having a knife fight in front of the Madrid Lounge, and there was a old console tv cabinet on fire off to the edge of the road. I was pretty sure that was going to be the last thing I did see.

Took me 2 years to go back, by then I was older, bolder, and knew more about the neighborhood. (My mother had started working in nonprofit program not far from there, and I think things were turning around.) And it helped that I brought a few friends. We explored it a bit, never once damaged it, used downed fences, and open doors, it was very cool, because it was like a time capsule, although still frightening because there were homeless people living there.

I had let my photography hobby dwindle, and my grandfather had passed away long before I found the place, he would have had so much to say about its history. So i have no good record of any of those visits.

I Re-picked up a camera again in 2005 when i got my first digital. I was still not a fully a shutterbug yet, but by 2007 that all changed. I got from a client a better than average "prosumer" level olympus digital with 100's of manual settings, so i decided i had to go out and photograph something every weekend just to learn all the settings. (and to scratch the exploring bug that i had).

By 2008 I had upgraded cameras a few times, I still have never made the big plunge into totally pro level camera/lenses, but I do like to push what I have to the max! I was already doing a lot of "Urbex" exploring and really wanting to shoot the railyards again. when I found a local group of Flickr fans, who had spotted an opening. So I jumped at the chance! I was glad I did. being there in full daylight, was like walking into a cathedral. I was instantly in love allover again!

Ive been back every chance I can, these days I'm glad to say I mostly get to document them by permission, although getting permission has gotten harder and harder, as the movies have it sewn up more and more, and the Albuquerque studios folks have decided they wont take our cash to rent the place unless we are a bigwig movie company.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011



I hope this is the first of many posts as I invite other photographers from the Flickr Albuquerque/Santa Fe Social Group and the Enchanted Lens club (along with other misc friends who have photographed the Rail Yards) to post their images along with their narratives  of the image of the Albuquerque Rail Yards.

It is my hope that this will be yet another vehicle to promote public awareness of the incredible  historical treasure that is in Albuquerque. It is a treasure that belongs not only to the city and the state, but, really to our country as it had a vital role in shaping the growth and commerce of the greater south west.

It is also my hope to bring attention to the Wheels Museum and their fundraising efforts. Without the museum, I am certain the the Rail Yards would've met up with a more certain 'death' had it not been for their efforts.

Here are some of my images of the Rail Yard:

Paula Scott: Molokai Girl Studio