Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Santa Fe Railyard

The Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was first chartered in February of 1859. Subsequently, the city of Santa Fe would become its namesake. The ATSF or the "Santa Fe" was one of the largest railroads in the United States, extending East from Chicago to the West in San Francisco, with several north/south branches from as far north as Kansas, to as south as Mexico and the Rio Grand.

Un Nuevo Dia by Tom Mallon
Un Nuevo Día (A New Day) by Tom Mallon

Click here to view details of this painting of the Santa Fe Railyard - Un Nuevo Día.

However, because of rough terrain, Santa Fe would not become a major junction but instead had to be connected to the railroad's southern branch with its own 18-mile spur. Along with the rail yard came a telegraph line. This spur was completed and Santa Fe was finally connected to the rest of the world by rail and telegraph in 1880, the same year as Albuquerque.

New Mexico Chili Line
Chili Line
Albuquerque would have the advantage of being on the north/south rail line and that city would subsequently experience the greater growth. Later the same year, the rail yard would be expanded to support the narrow gauge "D&RG Santa Fe Branch Line" (Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad). This commercial branch line eventually became known as the "Chili Line" because of it’s predominate chili freight.

Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

Un Nuevo Dia by Tom Mallon - Station House Detail
Santa Fe's Station House today

Station House

The original, somewhat basic, Santa Fe station house became a warehouse in 1909. At that time, it was replaced with the station house, which stands today. It was constructed in what was then referred to as the Californian "Mission Style".

By 1941, railway service to Santa Fe would end with the introduction of the Interstate Highway System and dismantling of the rail yard would begin the following year. Half a century later, the ATSF/Santa Fe Railway would merge with Burlington Northern Railway, in 1995, to become the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, or "BNSF" Railway.
Un Nuevo Dia by Tom Mallon - Cross Signal Detail
Railyard Cross Signal

Rail Yard Today

After WWII, the "Railyard" area fell into disrepair. By the late 1980’s, it became part of a public works program and, a decade later, the Santa Fe spur and station house would be purchased by the Santa Fe Southern Railway or SFSR (the railway depicted in the above painting).

The SFSR today provides seasonal service for locals and tourists with vintage coaches traveling along the old New Mexico spur between Lamy and Santa Fe. The rail yard itself was purchased by the City of Santa Fe and was developed into the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation which houses a park, youth center, SITE Santa Fe, and a farmer's market. The station house now doubles as a depot for the Rail Runner Express commuter rail line, which was completed in 2006.

The Painting


The painting entitled "Santa Fe Railyard" depicts the rail yard as it appears today in a dawn setting. The sun is just beginning to rise to the right of the station house and beams of early light are raking the banded sky as well as the crushed stone towards the trains. Parked upon the rail road tracks is trademark yellow SFSR engine, connected to vintage coach cars, ready to be boarded by tourists. To the right, and center of the canvas is a Rail Runner commuter train, preparing to embark from the Santa Fe station to its final destination of Albuquerque, so 60 miles south.  To the far right is the Mission Style station house, constructed in 1909 to replace the original station house, which remains today as a warehouse.


The painting occupies a shallow diagonal composition. Beneath a multi-colored stream of banded clouds sits the SFSR engine with cars, the Rail Runner commuter train and the station house. The crossing signal and station lights act as vertical dividers between each anchor object.

Un Nuevo Dia by Tom Mallon - Three Part Composition
The Painting has three major components
Notice how your eye moves from the bottom left to the right station house, marked "A". Eye movement resumes on a return from right to left following the directional attitude of the two trains, marked "B".

Un Nuevo Dia by Tom Mallon - Viewer Eye Movement
Viewer Eye Movement

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