Working on the Railroad
On display through Oct 18, 2026 at the New Mexico History Museum
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 US involvement in World War II.
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.
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.
This exhibit is also viewable as a virtual tour: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=z9uNNHsiPED
Also on exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum
New Mexico CulturePass
Your ticket to New Mexico's exceptional Museums and Historic Sites.
From Indian treasures to space exploration, world-class folk art to awesome dinosaurs—our museums and monuments celebrate the essence of New Mexico every day.
More Info »
Take a look inside the museums and historic sites of New Mexico without leaving home. Join host Charlotte Jusinski, and a variety of guest curators, artists, and exhibitors in exploring the art and culture of the state in Encounter Culture, a new podcast from the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
Featured DCA Exhibitions
Lloyd’s Treasure Chest: Folk Art in Focus
Lloyds’s Treasure Chest: Folk Art in Focus is a participatory gallery that encourages the exploration of folk art
Here, Now and Always
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture invites you to visit its brand new permanent exhibition, Here, Now and Always,
People have been growing food in what is now New Mexico for 4,000
Multiple Visions: A Common Bond
Multiple Visions: A Common Bond has been the destination for well over a million first-time and repeat visitors to the