The Albuquerque Railyards

Exploration / Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Last updated on August 25th, 2018

The Albuquerque Railyards – as it’s known to locals, or the Santa Fe Railway Shops, as it is known historically, is one of those places I had always wanted to see, but never had the chance to visit.

Nestled downtown, somewhere between “ghetto” and “scary” streets – describing a typical grouping of abandoned buildings, neighborhood notwithstanding – has been the subject of local legend and urban exploration by brazen trespassers for some time.

Fortunately for locals, that ship has sailed.  The property currently gets used as a setting for major motion pictures (The Avengers, Terminator, just to name a few). Once upon a time the complex served as “the mecca” of sorts, for every would-be photographer within the state.

As for myself, this was a place of, “I always wanted to go, but never wished to break the law“.

Sometime recently, important people signed numerous agreements and now in one of the primary buildings, resides a marketplace for all things… farmers-markety. It is an interesting juxtaposition of urban decay and a hipster mercantile.

I was finally able to visit this past Sunday. Delicately picked my way through the throngs of people and made careful note of the fact that my tarot-based fortune could be read by a goose, I could watch belly dancers or purchase any number of artisan cheeses, breads and pies.  Fun times.

Just outside the back door are roped off walkways where parts of the buildings can be explored through broken windows resembling stained-glass.

The complex was constructed between 1915 and 1925 and the facility was a primary hub for numerous national rail companies for train and freight car repairs before trains switched to diesel engines and the repairs were moved to California.

The architecture is stunning, and as you walk through history, where time doesn’t stand very still, it is difficult to believe that the operations at the railyards continued operations all the way up until the 1970’s.

After living in New Mexico for 9 years, I was finally able to make my pilgrimage.


I’m glad I did, although I did skip the goose tarot card reading… this time.

*Technical Note: All photos were taken on an iPhone.