Hillcrest train on the move soon

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A 105-year-old locomotive retired in Hillcrest Park since 1954 will be moved to the Clovis Depot Model Train Museum.

By Benna Sayyed: CNJ staff writer

A 105-year-old locomotive retired in Hillcrest Park since 1954 will soon be on the move.

It’s headed for the Clovis Depot Model Train Museum at 221 W. First St.

Joe Bennett, a local house mover whose father originally moved the train in 1954 when the Santa Fe railroad gave it to the city, has agreed to move the locomotive.

According to Clovis MainStreet Executive Director Robyne Beaubien, the cost of the move has been estimated between $10,000 and $20,000. Beaubien said the money to move the train was provided through a $20,000 grant won by the New Mexico MainStreet Centennial Project.

According to Phil Williams, owner of the Clovis Depot Model Train Museum, the City of Clovis has given Bennett a two-week deadline to move the locomotive. Bennett said he is engaged with other projects but said the move will take place within the next two weeks.

“People passing through Clovis can see the train. It shows that you’re entering the historic railroad district and the downtown area,” said Claire Burroughes, Clovis Legislative and Community Development Director.

According to Williams, Bennett will use a crane to lift the locomotive onto and off a truck.

Williams said when he purchased the train museum in 1995 the then head of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce suggested consolidating the city’s railroad historic items and creating a railroad historic district.

Williams, Clovis Main Street and the state’s historic preservation office in Santa Fe are trying to establish a railroad historic district.

“The locomotive is of great historic value,” Williams said. “It has not been formally put on the national register of historic artifacts. When we get the locomotive here, we intend to put it on the register.

“Who knows, someday we may be able to run an excursion line here and be able to restore it not only cosmetically but actually get it into full operation so that it can run.”

In 1996, Williams presented a proposal to the Clovis City Commission to relocate the locomotive from Hillcrest Park to a lot next to train museum to start consolidating the railroad facilities in Clovis.

Williams said the locomotive was open to the public at Hillcrest without a fence to protect it. Most of the gauges and removable items have been stripped from the train, he said.

The Clovis Area Train Society plans to restore the 144,000-pound locomotive to its 1953 appearance.