Local historians working with the University of New Mexico's Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections have saved a significant part of Albuquerque's historical record for the future.
Dozens of boxes containing records from the old Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad were left in a freight house building when the Burlington Northern Railroad sold the property to the City of Albuquerque around 1997.
Ed Boles, a planner in the Historic Preservation Division of the City's Long Term Planning Department says the freight house was part of the old Alvarado Hotel Complex, a local landmark demolished in the 1970's. When the city acquired the building it planned to use the property to build a new intermodal transportation center.
The center was built, but the old freight house was left unused. The historians had seen the boxes of documents in the building and convinced Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources, Special Collections and the Center for Southwest Research Mike Kelly that there might be something worth saving. He agreed, and was able to work with the city to bring the documents to the Center where they will be preserved and cataloged for future researchers.
The documents are a treasure. Kelly says they contain reams of information about the everyday workings of the Albuquerque district office of the railroad from the early 1900's to around the mid-1980's.
The documents themselves contain everything from payroll records to details of various train accidents in the Albuquerque area through most of the 20th century. Kelly says the boxes have the kind of minutia that is very valuable to historians.
The documents were in the basement of the freight house for dozens of years, and some have water and mold damage. He is now seeking a grant to help pay for the preservation and cataloging of the documents. The collection will not be available for researchers until it has been cleaned and organized which will take many months.
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