FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2019
Mary Ann Hatchitt
(Santa Fe, New Mexico) – They came from all over, and through back-breaking manual labor, railroad workers transformed the United States and impacted millions of lives. When the railroad came to New Mexico in 1879, it brought thousands of job opportunities for local people from rural villages, reservations, and larger towns. In addition to the homegrown workforce, the railroad also brought immigrant Chinese, European, and Mexican laborers to New Mexico. On a national scale, by the time women were granted the vote under the 19th Amendment in 1920, one out of every 50 citizens worked for the railroad; this number increased exponentially during the US’ involvement in World War II.
A new exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum entitled Working on the Railroad pays tribute to the people who moved the rail industry throughout New Mexico.
Using nearly 40 images from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives and the Library of Congress, this exhibition offers an in-depth look at the men and women who did everything from laying track to dispatching the engines.
Working on the Railroad tells another side of New Mexico’s locomotive history that makes no mention of passenger trains or tourism; visitors will leave the exhibition with a greater appreciation of the difficulty of this work. All workers are represented – women, people of color, immigrants, young and old – and most jobs are represented, both on and off the tracks.
From steel gangs to machinists and car cleaners to conductors, every role in the railroad industry served an important purpose. Wrenches, lanterns, tie dating nails and other objects from the New Mexico History Museum collections will be displayed to give additional life to the photos; many hands used those tools to ensure that each engine ran smoothly and successfully.
Opening October 18 and running through a date to be determined in 2021. Working on the Railroad is featured in the Mezzanine Gallery of the History Museum near the Fred Harvey installation.
About the New Mexico History Museum: http://www.nmhistorymuseum.org
The New Mexico History Museum is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its generous donors.
The campus of the New Mexico History Museum includes the Palace of the Governors, the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library, and Pete V. Domenici Building. The Palace of the Governors is noteworthy as the original seat of New Mexico government, the initial home for the Museum of New Mexico, and for its designation as a National Historic Landmark. The New Mexico History Museum presents exhibitions and public programs that acknowledge and reflect on New Mexico’s diverse heritage. Special features include the Palace Press, Native American Artisans Portal Program, and collections held by the Palace Photo Archive, and Chavez History Library The museum also serves as a center for education and historical research.
113 Lincoln Ave. in Santa Fe, NM 87501. (505) 476-5200. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April. Events, news releases and images about activities at the History Museum and other divisions in the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at media.newmexicoculture.org.