Friday, September 13, 2013

Sante Fe 5000, The Madam Queen

        I have driven past The Madam Queen for at least 40 years. I often said to family that we ought to go over there and look at that engine sometime.  For almost 2 decades I use to glimpse out the window at her every day as she sat within view about 3 blocks across the downtown parking lots from the place I worked, but (picture me red-faced) I never went over and looked at her up close. Now that I am retired I wonder why I didn't, at least once,  ever go over there on my lunch hour.  I decided it was about time to do that.  Is there something in your town like that? Sometime you know is there but you never go and see for yourself?  Maybe you too drive by something frequently and glimpse at it, but that is about it .... or is it just me???  Unfortunately, the Madam Queen is just one of many for me.
      For 48 years after her retirement The Santa Fe 5000, nicknamed The Madam Queen, sat in front of the old Santa Fe Depot in Amarillo, TX.  In 2005 she was moved about a mile across the way when the old depot was sold.  Moving a locomotive weighing 502,600 lbs is not a simple task when she is no longer on an actual usable railroad track!  The Discovery Channel came to Amarillo and the move was featured in their Mega Movers series.  Since I have never had cable TV I didn't get to see the program but I have seen a YouTube of the moving of the Madam Queen.  You can see it here: 
   Messer Construction Co. moved the locomotive with front loaders and side boom tractors on movable tracks.  She now sits in a small, parklike area on a side street north of Amarillo's Civic Center.  The Madam Queen is inside a fence for her protection and I understand tours are free through the Railroad Artifact Preservation Society (donations welcomed). 
     The Santa Fe 5000 was built in 1930 for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and was the first, and one of the largest, 2-10-4 type locomotives. Previously, steam locomotives had been 2-10-2, meaning 2 pilot wheels, 10 driving wheels and 2 railing wheels. She was built in Pennsylvania especially for the Plains Division of the Santa Fe Railroad and designed to haul heavy freight at a fast pace.  The Madam Queen ran over 1,750,000 miles before being retired in 1953.  She sat in the roundhouse in Clovis, NM being spruced up before being donated to the City of Amarillo, Texas in 1957.


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