Keep Santa Fe Beautiful now owns caboose

SANTA FE – Keep Santa Fe Beautiful is now “the proud owner” of the 50-year-old caboose that has been standing at the entryway intersection of Cerrillos and St. Francis for the past two decades, says Rick Martinez, chairman of the non-profit.

“I’m so proud of this community,” said Martinez, who organized a fundraising campaign to save the caboose starting in August. “This is working out really well.”

Martinez said about $20,000 was raised and the rail car was purchased from the now largely inactive Santa Fe Southern Railway for $14,000. The big donor was an anonymous member of the board of the Texas Historical Foundation with a home in Santa Fe. Martinez had previously disclosed that the Texan provided an $8,500 matching grant.

What’s left over from the purchase will be used to maintain the caboose. Last year, Martinez and a local artist jumped through a series of bureaucratic hoops to spruce up the caboose, often marred by graffiti, with fresh paint and a new Santa Fe logo.

The caboose will stay at the busy intersection, but will be moving to a new location about 30 yards east of its current spot, said Martinez. There, it will be part of the viewscape around a new bicyclist/pedestrian underpass beneath St. Francis just north of Cerrillos, linking the Acequia Trail to the downtown Railyard. The city government is expected to start construction soon. A ramada will be added facing the caboose, said Martinez.

Earlier this year, the financially strapped Santa Fe Southern made plans to sell the caboose and was asking $17,000. It had another potential buyer, but railroad CEO Kal Ziebart said his company wanted to cooperate with any effort to keep the caboose in place.

A “ribbon-cutting” ceremony to celebrate the purchase, which was completed in late October, will take place at 2 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the caboose. A reception will follow at the nearby La Choza restaurant. The public is invited. “This is just a gift to the community,” said Martinez. “We’re all just really excited about. I can’t believe the way the public really came out for this.”

Martinez says he expects the caboose and the tracks it has been standing on to be moved to the new location starting in late December.

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