As the ribbon was cut Friday, a wail from the whistle of the Union Pacific’s Steam Locomotive 844’s signaled the official dedication of the Tucumcari Train Depot.
More than 150 Quay County residents were on hand for the dedication of the depot and to welcome the centennial locomotive.
“It feels absolutely fantastic, it could not be any better,” said Mark Lake, director of Tucumcari MainStreet. “I am so tickled with the turnout, the reaction and support of the community.”
Lake has been working with multiple city, county and state agencies in an effort to restore and re-open the Depot.
“It is an honor to be here at this glorious celebration where we dedicate this restored Tucumcari Train Depot,” said State Rep. Dennis Roch.
Roch said there is much history at the llocation. He said as they toured the museum, he visited with many who had memories of the operational days of the depot.
“My father-in-law was an engineer with Union Pacific,” Roch said. “He used to work at this very depot. My wife can recall coming to this platform and watching her father pull up in a train.”
Tucumcari Mayor Jim Witcher said it was just the beginning and with continued support and help from the community, Tucumcari will grow.
“This is an awesome occasion, so grand to have everyone here with all of the memories of this place,” Witcher said.
The locomotive is traveling across the state as a part of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Centennial Celebration. Tucumcari is the first of many stops planned for the steam train tour.
“We are proud to share this historic moment with the people of Tucumcari,” said Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales.
Gonzales said the dramatic growth of railroads has shaped the history of our great country. She said since the first train’s entrance into New Mexico in 1878 to the presence of the railroad today, the importance of train history is felt across the country.
“The Tucumcari Depot is significant on the national level as a representation of when trains provided the best from of transportation in the U.S.,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said in it’s heyday, the depot was known as “The Rock Island Southern Pacific Depot. She said it is the only remaining structure of a once-large rail yard complex, which contributed to Tucumcari’s growth just prior and after New Mexico’s statehood.
“It is especially appropriate that Union Pacific’s historic steam locomotive 844 begin it’s journey across New Mexico from one of the best preserve depots in the state,” Gonzales said.
Union Pacific’s Director of Public Affairs Zoe Richmond said they are very excited to take part in the state’s centennial. She said it is an honor to have Tucumcari be the first stop as they launch of the Land of Enchantment Steam Special across the state.
“Thank you all for coming out, we hope you enjoy the train and displays,” Richmond said. “Here is to our mutual past and mutual future.”