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Santa Fe Flyer: 1943

Santa Fe Flyer: 1943

March 1943. Albuquerque, New Mexico. "An engine being carried to another part of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad shops to be wheeled." Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Mass employment

Consider this is just one shop of the Santa Fe, and there were many others. Each shop employed a thousand men (or more), and consider the hundreds of independent railroad companies in the wartime nation.
Each railroad had steam locomotives specifically designed to the geography in which they operated, and they appeared in wheel arrangements from four wheeled switchers to massive, hinges chassis to snake around curves when the boilers were too long! That was railroading at its grandest period.

Mountain and Prairie and Santa Fe

1696 is a 2-10-2, built by Baldwin in 1912 or 1913. It is a "Santa Fe" type, so named because the railroad requested a modification to a 2-10-0 locomotive. This type was pretty popular; over 2200 were built for various railroads between 1903 and 1931. It was scrapped in 1954.

1823 is a 2-6-2 "Prairie" type, built by Baldwin in 1903. 1823 was scrapped in 1949.

For the details on 3733, see this Shorpy photo.

Magnesia, not asbestos

MEGGAHURTZ: The lagging on the steam pipe is made of "85% magnesia" blocks, not asbestos putty. The material was 85% carbonate of magnesia and 15% asbestos fibre as filler.

Jazznocracy: Contrary to your claim, it was not unusual for US railroads to have hundreds of the same type of locos in a given class. Santa Fe had 352 2-10-2s alone. Moreover, their backshops were designed and equipped to build the parts needed to maintain these locos in-house. Drawings were either provided by the loco builders at the time of manufacture, or the railroad's own mechanical branch.

Diesel parts, however, had to be bought in from the original manufacturer. The diesels running in 1943 were not particularly standardised, nor were they light on maintenance.


My grandfather was working here at this time.

Albuquerque ....

Yup, old shop buildings are still there in Albuquerque. Things are in slow-motion to turn them into the Wheels Museum with a home for the 2926 steam locomotive that is being restored right now !

Air conditioning, again

I wonder what it was like in that shop in the height of summer, and the low of winter.

Steam dome cover.

Sandboxes don't have covers. You can see on 1696, the nearest loco, that the sandbox is a substantial component made up of castings and rolled plate of at least 3/16th of an inch thickness. On more modern locos the entire unit was fabricated by welding.

The "helmet" is in fact a steam dome cover - notice that on 1823 the cover is removed exposing the actual steam dome on the second course of the boiler.

The hole in the side referred to by DBurden is where the whistle is mounted on an elbow that in turn is mounted to the steam dome - as can be seen on the suspended 3733.


I believe this is the same flying train, this time with wheels on and on the track.

Helmet=Steam Dome Cover

As you can see on the 1823 the sand "dome" or more correctly sand box, is still attached to the boiler (it is seldom ever removed) the diagonal piping being the discharge lines for forward or reverse sanding.

If you look at the steam dome, the projection which is the highest point at the middle of the boiler, you can see that the sheet metal cover is removed, and laying on the shop floor.

Boilermakers had to enter the boiler through an opening at the top of the steam dome for checking flues, throttle linkage and the dry pipe.

upside down helmet...

Further on the upside down helmet: The sand dome would be larger with two cutouts for the sanders for both sides of the engine. The cutout seen on the left is more than likely to accomodate the pipe out to the whistle.

Browsing the Denver Public Library online AT&SF images are a great way to see this feature on Santa Fe engines.


The man working on the steam induction pipe on engine 1696 appears to be insulating the pipe with asbestos putty. You can also see some of the Asbestos lagging around the front of the same engine. When old steam engines are renovated for museum pieces today Asbestos abatement is one of the first things done.

The Helmet

The "helmet" is the cover off of a sand dome. The hole for the sander pipes can be seen in the rim of the cover there to the left.

1696 in action

There's a good shot of engine 1696 running in 1948 on this site.

250 tons

Of lifting power. Very impressive.

Steam locos

If you notice, each of these three locomotives is a different model. One of the problems with steam trains was that each railroad had just a few of any given design of engine, and so had to carry parts, blueprints, procedures, etc., for the maintenance of many different machines.

The diesels that replaced them were not really any more energy efficient or powerful. In fact many steam locomotives actually gave more traction for energy expended than the diesels. The diesels' great advantage was standardization, and needing less maintenance.

So while the steam locos were magnificent creations, their days were numbered, even as this picture was being taken.

Where's Waldo?

At first you don't notice them, and then -- I count at least twelve workers in this fascinating view. From left:

Man on ladder; blurry man inside smokebox; the distant crane operator; face inside near vise jaw; blur walking toward front of 1823 by last driving wheel; man working on valve gear of 1823 (head & shoulders above vise); man standing on pilot behind open smoke box door of 1823; group of five, distant right.

Did I miss anyone?

The Helmet

I'm usually one of the people supplying information regarding railroad photos, but now I have to beg a question: What is that object sitting on the floor that looks like a giant steel military helmet? I've seen this pic before in much smaller size, and this is a detail I never noticed. Any ideas?

Marty and Doc

Railroad tracks? Where we're going, we don't need railroad tracks.

The Army Helmet

What is with the freakishly large army helmet on the floor?

Shopping Bad

The buildings in this complex have been seen in several "Breaking Bad" episodes.

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