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Santa Fe CL-60 - History

Santa Fe CL-60 - History


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Santa Fe

The capital of New Mexico.

(CL~60: dp. 10,000; 1. 610'1~; b. 66'4"; dr. 26'1"; s. 31.6 k.; cpl. 1,384; a. 12 6", 12 5", 16 40 mm., 1420mm.; cl. Cleveland)

.Santa Fe was laid down on 7 June 1941 by New York Shipbuilding Co.; Camden, N.J., Iaunched on 10 June 1942; sponsored by Miss Caroline T. Chavez, and commissioned on 24 November 1942, Capt. Russell Berkey in command.

After shakedown on the east coast, Santa Fe sailed for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 22 March 1943 en route to the Aleutians. On 26 April, six days after reaching Alaska, she bombarded Attu. The next four months were occupied primarily by patrols off the Aleutians to prevent Japanese naval operations there This duty was varied by bombardments of Kiska on 6 and 22 July to prepare for the invasion of that island and by gunfire support for the landings there on 15 August. Santa Fe departed the Aleutians on 25 August and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 1 September.

The rest of the cruiser's war service was spent in Cruiser Division 13 with the fast carrier task forces which spearheaded the Allied advance across the Pacific. She first escorted two carrier raids from Pearl Harbor; one against Tarawa on 18 and 19 September and one against Wake on 5 and 6 October. On the latter attack, the cruisers shelled Wake, silencing return fire from shore.

Santa Fe departed Pearl Harbor with a carrier force on 21 October, but was detached from her division to cover transports carrying reinforcements to Bougainville. She arrived on 7 November; and, for the next two days, fought off heavy enemy air attacks. After a brief period in port, she sailed from Espiritu Santo on 14 November escorting thc transport force to the Gilbert Islands and between 20 and 22 November, bombarded enemy positions on Tarawa to support the landings. On 26 November, she rejoined the fast carriers and escorted three of the mighty flattops for strikes on Kwaj alein on 4 December before returning to Pearl Harbor five days later.

Late in the year, the busy cruiser returned to the United States to devote the first weeks of 1944 to amphibious training off San Pedro, Calif. She sortied on 13 January with the task force which would invade the Marshall Islands. The cruisers moved ahead of the main body on the 29th to neutralize Wotje in advance of the landings. After a morning of bombardment on 30 January, Santa Fe rejoined the main force off Kwajalein and, on 31 January and 1 February, provided gunfire support as American troops fought for that key island. She arrived at Majuro on 7 February.

Five days later, she sailed with a fast carrier force which struck the great enemy base at Truk on 16 and 17 February and hit Saipan on 22 February. She then proceeded via Majuro to Espiritu Santo. She got underway again on 15 March, escorting Enterprise and Belleau Wood as those carriers supported landings on Emirau Island on 20 March and struck Palau, Yap and Woleai between 30 March and 1 April. On 13 April, she sortied with a task group built around carrier, Hornet, to support the invasion of Hollandia New Guinea. Air strikes hit Wakde and Sawar on the 21st, and the surface ships bombarded the same islands the next day to neutralize them during the Hollandia landings. Released from their covering duties on 28 October, the carriers raided Truk, Satawan, and Ponape between 29 April and 1 May before returning to Kwajalein on the 4th.

Santa Fe sortied from the Marshalls with a group centered around carrier, Bunker Hill, and guarded her consorts during intense air strikes on Saipan, Tinian and Guam between 11 and 16 June in support of landings on Saipan. But the Japanese fleet raced into the area to make a major effort to save the Marianas. On the morning of 19 June, swarms of Japanese carrier aircraft attacked the American 5th Fleet. Santa Fe's guns contributed to an almost impenetrable shield of flak which protected the United States carriers while American naval aviators destroyed Japan's naval air arm. Through the night and into the following day, the 5th Fleet pursued the retiring enemy warships, located them at mid-afternoon, and launched planes for a successful attack. That night, Santa Fe, ignoring possible Japanese submarines, turned on her lights to help guide the American planes back to their carriers. After strikes on Pagan Island on 24 June, Santa Fe's group entered Eniwetok for replenishment on the 27th.

Three days later, the cruiser rejoined Hornet's group, and, after morning air strikes carried out a surface bombardment of Iwo Jima on i July. Between the 6th and the 21st, the carrier group alternated strikes between Guam and Rota to prevent enemy use of airfields there, and, from the 25th to the 28th, while striking Yap and Ulithi, the naval aircraft obtained invaluable photographic intelligence. AMer six hours at anchor off Saipan on 2 August, the force struck again at Iwo Jima on the 4th and 5th. On the 4th, the cruisers engaged a small Japanese convoy, sinking several vessels including escort Matsu; and, on the 5th, they bombarded Iwo Jima. The carrier group returned to Eniwetok on the 11th.

Between 30 August 1944 and 26 January 1945, Santa Fe operated in carrier groups centered about Essex. Their first mission was a strike on Peleliu in the Palaus from 6 to 8 September and Mindanao in the Philippines on the 9th and 10th. On the 9th, the cruisers engaged a second Japanese convoy, sinking a number of small vessels. Further air strikes in the Visayan Sea came between 12 and 14 September, and targets in the Philippines received attention from the 21st to the 24th before the task force retired to Kossol Passage in the Palaus on the 27th.

A new series of strikes to neutralize Japanese air power during the invasion of the Philippines started with attacks on Okinawa and Formosa between 10 and 13 October. That evening, Friday the 13th, after Canberra and Houston had been damaged by torpedoes, Santa Fe, Birmingham, and Mobile were detached to help tow the damaged cruisers out of danger. On the 17th, Santa Fe rejoined the carriers for direct support to the Leyte landings.

The Essex group launched strikes on Visayan airfields on the 21st, refueled the next day; and, on the 23rd and 24th, carried out searches for Japanese naval forces reported approaching the Philippines. On the 24th, a heavy Japanese air attack was repulsed, but a single, undetected Japanese plane followed the American planes back to their carriers and put a bomb into carrier, Princeton, which later had to be sunk. Later in the afternoon, a Japanese carrier force was located to the north of Luzon, and the American carriers raced north to intercept. Early on the 25th, six battleships and seven cruisers, including Santa Fe, were sent ahead of the carriers to be ready for a gun action, and, at daybreak, the carriers began launching strikes. Late in the morning, one carrier group, with most of the battleships and cruisers, was rushed back south to intercept the Japanese Center Force, which had swept through San Bernardino Strait. But the remaining four cruisers, under the Commander of Cruiser Division 13 in Santa Fe, continued north and in midafternoon opened fire on Japanese cripples, sinking carrier, Chiyoda, and destroyer, Hatsuzuki, before retiring that night. Santa Fe rejoined the carriers the next day and arrived at Ulithi on 30 October after strikes on Japanese stragglers in the Visayan Sea on the 27th.

The Essex group, with Santa Fe, started for Manus for upkeep on 1 November, but was diverted to the Philippines because of a report that Japanese surface units were approaching Leyte. Although the rumor proved false, the carrier planes were nevertheless needed to cope with heavy enemy air attacks on the troops and shipping around Leyte. Friendly airfields were not yet fully ready. Santa Fe's group struck at Manila on 5 and 6 November and experienced its first Kamikaze attack on the 5th. After additional strikes on the Philippines between 11 and 14 November, the cruiser arrived at Ulithi on 17 November. Three days later, while the cruiser was replenishing in the lagoon, Japanese midget submarines got into the anchorage and torpedoed Mississinewa (AO-59). Santa Fe's float planes rescued some of the tanker's survivors.

The Essex group, with Santa Fe, got underway again on 22 November, carried out strikes on the Philippines on the 25th, and remained on station until 1 December. After another stop at Ulithi, the carrier group was again at sea supporting the Mindoro landings when a typhoon on 18 and 19 December sank three destroyers. After searching for survivors, the ships returned to Ulithi on the 24th. Back at sea on 30 December 1944, the Essex force struck Formosa and Okinawa on 3 and 4 January 1945, Luzon on the 6th and 7th, and Formosa again on the 9th, to neutralize Japanese air fields during landings on Luzon from Lingayan Gulf The ships then entered the South China Sea, raided shipping along the Indochina coast on 12 January, and along the China coast on the 15th and 16th. Leaving the South China Sea on 20 January, the carriers struck Formosa on the 21st and Okinawa on the 22nd before returning to Ulithi on the 26th.

Santa Fe sailed with Yorktown and other units on 10 February; and, on 16 and 17 February, her group launched strikes on air fields around Tokyo to destroy aircraft that might interfere with landings on Iwo Jima. Santa Fe was detached from the carriers on the 18th, and bombarded Iwo Jima between 19 and 21 February, silencing Japanese gun batteries on Mt. Suribachi and firing illumination missions at night. She rejoined the carriers for another raid on Tokyo on the 25th and then retired to Ulithi on 1 March.

On 14 March, the cruiser joined Hancock's group which launched strikes on Kyushu on 18 March and on Japanese fleet units at Kure and Kobe on the 19th. Just as the first strikes were being launched on the 19th, a single Japanese plane dropped two bombs into a cluster of planes on Franklin's deck, setting off immense explosions and fires. Santa Fe maneuvered alongside the carrier, and despite a hail of exploding ammunition, rescued survivors and fought fires. After the cruiser had been alongside for nearly three hours 833 survivors had been rescued, the major fires were under control, and cruiser Pittsburgh was ready to tow the carrier. Santa Fe escorted the carrier to Ulithi; and, needing repairs herself, left Ulithi on 27 March for a trip back to thc United States, escorting Franklin as far as Pearl Harbor. She received a Navy Unit Commendation for her part in the salvage of Franklin.

Overhaul at San Pedro, Cal., lasted from 10 April to 14 July. The cruiser returned to Pearl Harbor on 1 August and sailed from there on the 12th with carrier, Antietam, and cruiser, Birmingham, to attack Wake Island. The raid was cancelled when Japan capitulated on the 15th, and the ships were diverted, first to Eniwetok and then to Okinawa, anchoring in Buckner Bay on 26 August. Santa Fe arrived in Sasebo on 20 September; and, between 17 October and 10 November, assisted in the occupation of northern Honshu and Hokkaido. She reported for "Magic Carpet" duty on 10 November and made two trips bringing troops home from Saipan, Guam, and Truk before arriving on 25 January 1946 at Bremerton, Wash.

Santa Fe was decommissioned on 19 October 1946 and attached to the Bremerton Group, U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959 and sold on 9 November 1959 to Zidell Explorations, Inc., for scrapping.

Santa Fe received 13 battle stars for her World War II service.


For centuries prior to the Santa Fe Trail, trade took place between the Great Plains Indians and early settlers of the Texas panhandle. As trade routes expanded along the Rio Grande, commerce inevitably reached the Spanish colonists of New Mexico𠅋ut Spain had declared trade with Native Americans illegal.

Still, many American explorers traveled to Santa Fe and attempted trade. Most were detained and sent home.

By 1810, the Mexican people had had enough of Spain’s iron-fisted rule. Their first attempt for independence failed, but in 1821 they waged a successful revolution and gained their freedom. This opened the door for anyone to trade with Mexico.


U.S.S. Santa Fe CL-60

The officers and crew of the light cruiser, U.S.S. Santa Fe, dedicate this plaque to the memory of the gallant men who fought and served aboard her from 1942 to 1946.

Erected 1975 by the U.S.S. Santa Fe Veterans on their 30th reunion, August 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Topics. This memorial is listed in this topic list: War, World II.

Location. 35° 41.235′ N, 105° 56.33′ W. Marker is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in Santa Fe County. Memorial is at the intersection of San Francisco Street and Lincoln Avenue, on the right when traveling east on San Francisco Street. It is on the edge of the plaza, facing San Francisco Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Santa Fe NM 87501, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. To the Heroes (within shouting distance of this marker) La Castrense (within shouting distance of this marker) End of Santa Fe Trail (within shouting distance of this marker) Santa Fe Plaza (within shouting distance of this marker) Annexation of New Mexico (within shouting distance of this marker) El Palacio Real (within shouting distance of this marker) Santa Fe Trail (within shouting distance of this marker) The Spitz Clock (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Santa Fe.

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 29, 2012, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 666 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 29, 2012, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

Editor&rsquos want-list for this marker. Wide photo showing the plaque's location within the plaza &bull Can you help?


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Saints of Santa Fe College

Meet Chris Alford

The MBA orientation at UF was eye-opening because I'm in this cohort of roughly 50 students, with people from very prestigious universities. It didn't take long to figure out that we were all in the same boat, rowing in the same direction. I felt very prepared for the program the curriculum mirrored what I learned getting my bachelor's at Santa Fe College almost exactly, it was just more in-depth. I had a basic foundation that was critical to my success. Read more


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Cleveland Class Light Cruisers

The Cleveland Class Light Cruisers were the most numerous class of cruisers ever built, with 52 ordered, 29 completed as cruisers and 9 as light aircraft carriers, with 22 of the cruisers seeing service during the Second World War. Despite these large numbers the Cleveland class had emerged as a compromise design in 1939, and the cruisers were top-heavy throughout their career.

In June 1938 work began on a design for a new 8,000 ton light cruiser that would be armed with eight or nine 6in dual purpose guns. This ship was designed within the limits of the 1936 London Naval Treaty, and the weight limit would soon cause problems. By May 1939 the design had evolved. It was now armed with ten 6in/47 guns in twin dual purpose turrets, with five quad 1.1in gun mountings for extra anti-aircraft protection, a single aircraft catapult aft and two banks of triple torpedo tubes. These design was visually similar to the eventual Cleveland class, so must have been at least partly based on the earlier Brooklyn class.

By June a tentative plan was in place to built two of these cruisers as CL55 and CL56 as part of the Financial Year 1940 (FY40) building budget, possibly to be followed by another twenty over the next ten years, but the design was running into problems. It was proving very difficult to fit all of the guns into 8,000 tons without removing virtually all protection.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Great Britain officially abandoned the 8,000 ton treaty limit for light cruisers. At about the same time the US Navy lost interest in the 6in/47 gun, and with it the existing light cruiser design. The General Board wanted an anti-aircraft cruiser to be armed with a new 5.4in dual purpose gun (later developed as the 5in/54 gun), but the Navy decided that it would take too long to produce a new design. On 2 October 1939 the Navy decided to order a modified version of USS Helena, the last of the Brooklyn class light cruisers. The new ships would carry fewer 6in guns and more dual purpose 5in guns, but would otherwise be similar to the Helena. The eventual size of the class was decided by a 1940 decision to concentrate construction on existing designs rather than risk the delays that might have come from introducing better designs.

The first two ships in the class, CL55 and CL56, were officially ordered on 23 March 1940. Further orders followed quickly. CL57 and CL58 were ordered on 12 June 1940, CL59 to CL67 during July 1940, CL76-CL88 in September and CL89-94 in October.

Only two were ordered during 1941 - CL101 and CL102 - and these were ordered to replace two that had been cancelled to allow their builder to focus on destroyers. CL103 to CL118 were ordered in August 1942. Very few of these later ships were actually completed. Of the earlier ships nine were converted into light carriers, with work beginning in 1942 before any had been completed as cruisers.

CL144 to CL147 were ordered as Cleveland class cruisers on 15 June 1943 and CL148 and CL149 on 14 June, but none of these ships were completed as Cleveland (or Fargo) class cruisers and even the numbers were reused, with CL144 to CL147 allocated to Worcester class light cruisers.

The Brooklyn class cruisers were produced as a result of the 1930 London Naval Treaty, which allowed for the production of 10,000 ton cruisers armed with 6in guns. The nine Brooklyn class ships were all armed with fifteen 6in guns carried in three triple turrets, two aft and three forward. The third of the fore turrets was mounted lower than the middle turret, and so couldn't fire forward. The last two in the class, USS St Louis (CL-49) and USS Helena (CL-50) were modified. Their engineering spaces were rearranged so that boiler rooms and engine rooms alternated. The eight single 5in guns of the first ships were grouped into four twin gunhouses and a longer gun installed. The four gunhouses were mounted on the sides of the ship, next to the fore and after superstructures. The superstructure was also rearranged - on the earlier ships the rear superstructure was close to the rear 6in guns, on the St Louis and Helena it was moved forward, and was just behind the rear of the two funnels.

The new Cleveland design kept the general layout of the Helena, but with three fewer 6in guns and four more 5in/38 guns. The third of the forward 6in turrets was removed, giving the Clevelands four 6in triple turrets, two fore and two aft. The existing 5in gun positions were retained (two positions on each side of the ship, carried by the side of the main fore and aft superstructures. Two new twin 5in gun mountings were added, one fore and one aft, each mounted between the main 6in turrets and the superstructure. These guns were carried on raised positions, although they weren't high enough to fire level over the main guns.

The Cleveland class ships were the same length as the Helena, but their beam was increased by 4ft 7in. The hull was generally the same shape, although the hull sloped inwards amidships (tumble home) and they had a rounded stern. They were designed to use lighter aluminium deckhouses, but wartime shortages meant that heavier steel had to be used. They also gained a great deal of extra equipment as the war went on, with new radar and electronics causing extra problems as so much of it had to be carried high on the ship. The ships became increasingly top-heavy as time went on, and in 1945 one of the two aircraft catapults was removed from most ships in an attempt to save weight. Some also had the range finder removed from No.1 turret and the amount of ready use anti-aircraft ammo that could be carried on deck was restricted.

In the middle of 1942, before any of the Cleveland class had entered service, a modified design was produced. This took advantage of wartime experience to solve potential problems with the ship, in particular the top-heaviness. The turrets, 5in gunhouses and 40mm guns were to be lowered, partly to lower the centre of gravity and partly to shorten the ammunition hoists. The superstructure was to be redesigned to clear arcs for anti-aircraft fire and a single funnel was adopted. The aircraft hanger was halved in space in order to make room for crew accommodation. In August 1942 the Navy decided to build CL106 to 118 to the new design, and these ships are sometimes allocated to the Fargo class. Only two of these ships were completed to the new design - USS Fargo (CL-106) and USS Huntington (CL-107).

Twenty-two of the Cleveland class light cruisers saw service during the Second World War. The Cleveland made her combat debut in December 1942 during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, but most of the class served almost exclusively in the Pacific. The first Cleveland class cruisers entered combat in the Pacific early in 1943. For most of the time they served as part of the cruiser screen around the fast aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet, providing part of the powerful anti-aircraft barrage. Some members of the class carried out shore bombardments, most commonly at Okinawa. Very few saw combat with Japanese surface vessels, with the main clash coming during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where the Columbia, Denver, Santa Fe, Mobile, Vincennes and Miami all fired their guns in anger at enemy surface ships.

In the post-war period the Cleveland class cruisers were quickly laid up, with most going into the reserve. By the start of the Korean War in 1950 only the Manchester was still with the active fleet. She saw combat in Korean and won nine battle stars during the fighting. During her three tours off the Korean coast she was mainly used for shore bombardment and to provide fire support, but she also carried out air-sea rescue missions using her helicopters.

In the late 1950s six of the Cleveland class light cruisers were chosen for conversion into guided missile cruisers. Springfield CL-66, Topeka CL-76, Providence CL-82, Oklahoma City CL-91, Little Rock CL-92 and Galveston CL-93 were all converted, gaining new CLG numbers. Springfield and Little Rock both served with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, but Oklahoma, Galveston, Topeka and Providence all saw combat in Vietnam. Despite their more modern weapons they performed a role that would have been familiar to their Second World War crews, providing a mix of cover for the US Navy's carriers off the Vietnamese coast and carrying out shore bombardments to help troops fighting near the coast. Some of the missile cruisers remained in service well into the late 1970s.

The Oklahoma was the last member of the Cleveland class to remain in service, and she wasn't stricken from the reserve fleet until 1999. She was then deliberately sunk during military exercises. One member of the class still exists. The Little Rock was moved to the Buffalo Naval and Military Museum in 1977, and she is still there.


Santa Fe obelisk toppled during Indigenous Peoples' Day protest

Indigenous activists occupied the city plaza over the weekend.

What America owes Native Americans

Santa Fe's leaders are calling for calm after a group of protesters toppled a controversial monument in the city's plaza Monday during an Indigenous Peoples' Day protest.

The protesters used chains and ropes to bring down the obelisk, which activists contend celebrates the killings of Native Americans. The defacing came at the end of a weekend-long protest by indigenous groups and other individuals who took over the plaza.

At one point during the demonstrations, two protesters chained themselves to the base of the monument, according to police.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and Police Chief Andrew Padilla told reporters during a news conference Tuesday that a small group of protesters plotted the destruction.

"Not every protester had this in their mind," Padilla said.

The monument was erected in 1868, 43 years before New Mexico became a state, to honor Civil War Union soldiers. It has become a target of protesters for a plaque at its base that says the obelisk is dedicated to "the heroes" who fought "savage Indians."

Mayor Webber has supported removing the obelisk, and a state-contracted crew attempted to do so over the summer, but it was too heavy for the crews, according to officials.

The mayor nevertheless condemned Monday's vandalism.

"The violence and damage to a historical monument in the middle of our plaza will not help our community come together when we most need to do so," he said in a video message Monday.

Padilla said officers arrested two of the protesters and were looking for more individuals who were involved in the monument's removal. He said the protest broke up about 20 minutes after the monument came down, and ended peacefully without the officers using tear gas or excessive force.

"It was preservation of life over property. I stand by that decision," Padilla said.

Webber said the City Council will be holding meetings this week to address the concerns of the protesters and move forward with the situation.

"It's clear Santa Fe and New Mexico have more than hundreds of years of pain and suffering on many sides," he said during the news conference. "The events of yesterday give us the opportunity to come together and stand up."


Nine must-see historic sites in Santa Fe

Loretto Chapel: The centerpiece of the historic Loretto Chapel, built in 1873, is its "miraculous staircase." Neither the identity of its creator nor the type of wood used to construct it are known. But the biggest mystery is the way the staircase was built: It has two 360-degree turns and no visible means of support. (Photo: Flickr/jpellgen @1179_jp)

These historic places in and around Santa Fe range from simple adobe homes to ornate cathedrals to Pueblo villages that have existed for thousands of years. Explore the guide to learn more about the city's deep ties to its people and places.

This 5,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-era compound was in ruin when famous 20th-century artist Georgia O’Keeffe found it. She bought the property in 1945 and, for the next four years, supervised its restoration. It became a source of inspiration for some of her most acclaimed works.

Ohkay Owingeh is one of 19 federally recognized pueblos, or tribal communities, in New Mexico. The historic, 25-acre village's flat-roofed homes and ceremonial kivas have been fashioned out of adobe mixed from the local soil for so many generations that its origins disappear into the past.

The Manhattan Project’s three primary sites speak eloquently to the project’s enormous scale and the frantic, round-the-clock effort required to create an atomic weapon ahead of the enemy. Santa Fe's Los Alamos was a historic base for scientists and engineers who worked on the bomb.

A 33,000-acre site in northern New Mexico, this national monument contains more than 3,000 sites that date as far back as AD 1100. Bandelier is one of the nation’s largest collections of pre-Hispanic archaeological sites.

The Palace of the Governors is said to be the oldest continuously occupied public building in the country. Built around 1610 by Spanish colonists, this one-story adobe structure was the seat of government over hundreds of years.

The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, built in 1887, was the fourth iteration of churches built on this historic site. (The first was a simple pueblo constructed in 1610 — the same year Santa Fe was founded.) The Romanesque revival cathedral was built around the former adobe church.

The centerpiece of the historic Loretto Chapel, built in 1873, is its "miraculous staircase." Neither the identity of its creator nor the type of wood used to construct it are known. But the biggest mystery is the way the staircase was built: It has two 360-degree turns and no visible means of support.

La Fonda’s history can be traced back over 400 years and, as the oldest hotel on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, it emits a timeless, elegant aura. This historic hotel embraces its New Mexican heritage and leaves a lasting impression on its guests.

Originally owned by Santa Fe Trail merchant James L. Johnson, this Spanish Pueblo-style home was later transformed into a hotel by wealthy widow Margretta Deitrich. Deitrich was a suffragist and advocate for American Indian rights.


FM "H12-44" Locomotives

The H12-44 proved as Fairbanks Morse's most successful diesel locomotive with nearly 400 constructed over an eleven year period.

Despite the fact that its diesels used a complicated opposed-piston prime mover a number of railroads came to like them for their incredible lugging ability and relative light weight.

This particular model looked quite similar to its predecessor, the H10-44, save for a slight increase in horsepower. While FM was able to sell a number of a diesels through its Canadian Locomotive Company arm it had difficulty finding sales to many foreign lines although a few did purchase their products.

As it turned out the H12-44 had one of the longest production runs of any FM model and so many were produced that at least sixteen domestic examples remain preserved today.

It seems FM fell into the same situation as American Locomotive and Baldwin while the builder found sustained with its switchers the company failed to catalog an effective road-switcher.  Electro-Motive had the market all but locked up and had no true competitor until General Electric beginning in the late 1950's.

"September, 1969: At San Francisco's 4th & Townsend Depot Southern Pacific H12-44 #2351 has pulled the cars from cars having arrived on that afternoon's Train #99, "The Coast Daylight", from Los Angeles. By that time normal practice was to bring #99 in on Track 14, cut off the power so it could run light to the 7th & Townsend engine terminal. The depot switcher would pull the cars across 3rd then back them down King Street to the coach yard. As an aside, track #14 was the only track that ran past the depot. Today, with the possible exception of buildings in the distant back ground, everything in this photo no longer exists." - Drew Jacksich

The H12-44 began production during May of 1950 following the earlier H10-44. Railroads had liked this switcher and apparently were just after increased horsepower as the H12-44 sold even better. 

It came equipped with a standard Fairbanks Morse 2-cycle 38D8 1/8 opposed piston prime mover that could produce 1,200 horsepower using a B-B truck setup (meaning two axles per truck).

The carbody styling was again inspired by noted industrial designer Raymond Loewy.  However, to reduce production costs FM simplified the design in the fall of 1952 removing many of the styling features Loewy had suggested.

It did not really take away from the model's attractiveness although the locomotive did sport a more basic, boxy appearance.

Fairbanks-Morse's Catalog Of Diesels

The FM H12-44 carried roughly the same tractive effort as models being offered at the time by both Electro-Motive Division (EMD) and the American Locomotive Company (Alco) 61,000 pounds starting and 34,000 pounds continuous.

Yankeetown Dock Corporation H12-44 #2 is seen here in Lynnville, Indiana on July 26, 1980. The FM switcher began its career with the company in 1956, one of two Yankee owned. Doug Kroll photo.

Thanks to the locomotive's relatively light-weight the H12-44 was ideal for use in both yard/switcher service and could also be used in light freight service with its respectable horsepower rating. 

FM's classification system somewhat resembled Baldwin's initial system, although somewhat more simplified. In regards to the H12-44 the “H” stood for Hood unit, “12” was for 1,200 horsepower, and each 4 meant four axles and four traction motors.

Norfolk & Western H12-44 #3385 (ex-Wabash #385) switches train #111, the "Banner Blue," at Decatur, Illinois on May 7, 1966. Roger Puta photo.

Overall the locomotive sold 369 units in the U.S./Canada by the time production had ended in March of 1961 making it the manufacturer's most successful.

The Santa Fe certainly liked the switcher as the company wound up with 59 examples employing them heavily in light duty work.

Generally FM models sold relatively poorly although it is not necessarily because Fairbanks Morse's models in general were unreliable, as was usually the case with Alco (early on anyway) and particularly Baldwin.

Reliability with FM's diesel locomotives has often been questioned but I believe the issue was mostly due to the fact that FM's opposed-piston prime mover was difficult to maintain and far different from the standard designs being offered by the other builders.

For instance, in regards to the Train Master, it has been noted by John Kirkland in his book The Diesel Builders Volume 1 that the locomotives performed admirably for more than 20 years on the Southern Pacific.

This was due to a maintenance team that understood the model, despite taking a daily beating in freight service. In any event, the H12-44 was purchased by a little more than a dozen Class I systems including industries Ayrshire Collieries, U.S. Steel - Fairless Works, Yankeetown Dock, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Even the U.S. Army bought the locomotive, 20 to be exact! FM's Canadian arm also built 30 for Canadian National Railway as well as an A1A-A1A design known as the H12-46. CN ultimately wound up with 30 examples of the variant built during the early 1950s.

Fairbanks Morse H12-44 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Ayrshire Collieries Corporation111957
Canadian National1630-1659301951-1956
Canadian National7600-7629 (H12-46)301951-1953
Chihuahua-Pacific Railway (Mexico)7011961
Baltimore & Ohio196-197, 310-319, 9722-9726171951-1957
Central Of Georgia315-31841953
Chicago & North Western1071-1072, 1110-111691950-1953
Columbia & Cowlitz RailwayD-211956
Fairless Works (U.S. Steel)GE9-GE1681951-1952
Indianapolis Union Railway19-2131952
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal60-6671951-1953
Milwaukee Road1826-1847, 2300-2325481950-1954
Minnesota Western Railroad1011951
New York Central9111-9137271950-1952
Nickel Plate Road134-155221953-1958
Pennsylvania8708-8723161952-1954
Sandersville Railroad10011953
Santa Fe503-540, 544-564591950-1957
Santa Fe541-543 (H12-44TS)31956
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)282-28541951
Soo Line315-31951952-1954
Southern Pacific1486-1491, 1529-1538, 1568-1596451952-1957
Tennessee Valley Authority2211954
U.S. Army1843-1862201953
Wabash Railroad384-38631953
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company111951
Yankeetown Dock1-221953-1956
Milwaukee Road H12-44 #718 carries out switching chores at the railroad's new station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 28, 1966. Roger Puta photo.

It should be noted that another variant was manufactured as well, the H12-44TS for the Santa Fe numbered 541, 542, and 543.

The AT&SF requested the locomotive for use in shuttling passenger trains and equipment around its Dearborn Station terminal in Chicago.

The locomotive was somewhat longer at 54 feet, 2 inches and featured the addition of a short hood ahead of the cab giving it the appearance of a road switcher. However, it still offered 1,200 horsepower and a B-B truck arrangement. Santa Fe regularly employed the three units in yard service until 1972 when the were sold. 

Today, #543 is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. In any event, a photo of 543 is presented below pushing the Super Chief into Dearborn Station on October 14, 1972. 


Legends of America

Santa Fe Plaza today, courtesy Santa Fe Tourism

Established in 1610, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the third oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, and Jamestown, Virginia are older. It is also the oldest capital city in the U.S, serving under five different governments Spain, Tewa Puebloans, Mexico, Confederate States of America, and the United States. Built upon the ruins of an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe was the capital of the “Kingdom of New Mexico,” which was claimed for Spain by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Its first governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, gave the city its full name, “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” or “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”.

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe is the oldest church in the continental United States, constructed around 1610. The Palace of the Governors was built between 1610 and 1612 and is the oldest government building in the country.

During the next 70 years, the Spanish colonists and missionaries sought to subjugate and convert the some 100,000 Pueblo Indians of the region. However, in 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted, killing almost 400 Spanish colonists and drove the rest back into Mexico. The conquering Indians then burned most of the buildings in Santa Fe except for the Palace of the Governors and the San Miguel Chapel.

The Pueblo Indians occupied Santa Fe until 1693 when Don Diego de Vargas reestablished Spanish control. At this time, Santa Fe grew and prospered as a city, but was interrupted by frequent Indian attacks by the Comanche, Apache, and Navajo tribes. As a result, Santa Fe citizens formed an alliance with the Pueblo Indians, which brought a more peaceful existence to the settlement. However, the Spanish policy of a closed empire heavily influenced the lives of many people in Santa Fe during these years because trade was restricted to Americans, British and French.

The Santa Fe Trail ends in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. At this time, the Spanish policy of closed empire ended, and American trappers and traders moved into the region. William Becknell soon opened the l,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, leaving from Franklin, Missouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Before long, Santa Fe would become the primary destination of hundreds of travelers seeking to trade with the city or move further west.

For a brief period in 1837, northern New Mexico farmers rebelled against Mexican rule, killed the provincial governor in what has been called the Chimayó Rebellion (named after a village north of Santa Fe) and occupied the Santa Fe. However, the insurrectionists were soon defeated.

On August 18, 1846, during the early period of the Mexican-American War, an American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. There, he built Fort Marcy to prevent an uprising by Santa Fe citizens, though it was never needed.

Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1846 by James Albert, a member of the Corps of Topographical Engineers. The American flag, may be seen on the heights overlooking the town at Fort Marcy.

Two years later in 1848, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceding New Mexico and California to the United States.

As part of the Confederate New Mexico Campaign of the Civil War, Brigadier General Henry Sibley occupied the city, flying the Confederate flag over Santa Fe for or 27 days in March and April of 1862. Sibley was forced to withdraw after Union troops destroyed his logistical trains following the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

With the arrival of the telegraph in 1868 and the coming of the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880, Santa Fe and New Mexico Territory underwent an economic revolution. Corruption in government, however, accompanied the growth, and President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Lew Wallace as a territorial governor to “clean up New Mexico.” Wallace did such a good job that Billy the Kid threatened to come up to Santa Fe and kill him. New Mexico gained statehood in 1912, with Santa Fe remaining as the capital city. At that time, Santa Fe’s population was approximately 5,000 people

La Bajada Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Route 66 originally went through Santa Fe during its early years. Following the Old Pecos Trail from Santa Rosa, the path wound through Dilia, Romeroville, and Pecos on its way to Santa Fe. Beyond the capital, Route 66 continued on a particularly nasty stretch down La Bajada Hill toward Albuquerque. One of the most challenging sections of the old road, the 500-foot drop along narrow switchbacks struck terror in the hearts of many early travelers, so much so, that locals were often hired to drive vehicles down the steep slope. Due to political maneuverings of the New Mexico Governor in 1937, Route 66 was rerouted, bypassing Santa Fe and the Pecos River Valley. Having lost his re-election, Governor Hannett blamed the Santa Fe politicians for losing, and vowing to get even, he rerouted the highway in his last few months as governor. So hastily was the road built, that it barreled through both public and private lands without the benefit of official right-of-ways.

By the time the new governor was in place, a new highway connected Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, bypassing the capital city and its many businesses. The new route was more direct and reduced some of the more treacherous road conditions. It was along this path that I-40 would be built many years later.

Santa Fe Palace of Governors

For many years this picturesque city has consciously attempted to preserve and display a regional architectural style. By a law passed in 1958, new and rebuilt buildings, especially those in designated historic districts, must exhibit a Spanish Territorial or Pueblo style of architecture, with flat roofs and other features suggestive of the area’s traditional adobe construction.

In addition to serving as the state capital, the city depends economically on art, tourism, construction, and real estate development. Set at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the city’s climate and cultural attractions have drawn an influx of new residents with an above-average income and educational level. Restaurants, boutiques, and galleries line the streets of the city center and Canyon Road.

The growth boom flagged temporarily in the mid-1990s when Debbie Jaramillo, who opposed the focus on tourism, was elected mayor. She was voted out after serving one term. The city continues to face the challenges of continuing drought conditions and a widening divide between locals and recent arrivals. Still, art and tourism remain Santa Fe’s biggest industries.

Nestled at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe boasts a population of almost 84,000 people. While in Santa Fe, be sure to visit the La Fonda Hotel, which has been providing a restful place for weary travelers since 1920. In 1926 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad acquired the hotel, which they leased to Fred Harvey. From 1926 through 1969 the La Fonda was one of the famous Harvey Houses. Reportedly the La Fonda also hosts a resident ghost.

This 800-year old Adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico is claimed to be the oldest house in the United States.

Visitors also have the opportunity to see the historic Palace of the Governors, the San Miguel Mission Church, visit Santa Fe’s many museums, and stroll through numerous galleries and boutiques while visiting beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico.

One other interesting note is that Santa Fe is reportedly extremely haunted. It is one of the few cities that offers a full schedule of “ghost tours” and “ghost walks” year-round, with as many as five operators conducting tours from Santa Fe’s historic plaza. These tours primarily focus on the ten-block historic area of Santa Fe, featuring such places as the La Posada and La Fonda Hotels, the Grant Corner Inn, Palace of Governors, the oldest house in the nation, and other historic buildings. Some tours also include area superstitions, as well as Santa Fe’s history of vigilantes, gunfights, murders, and hangings.

The treacherous road along La Bajada Hill, located about ten miles southwest of Santa Fe, was once utilized by the Spanish moving along the El Camino Real and later became part of the pre-1937 path of Route 66. In 2017, the Cochiti Pueblo blocked access to La Bajada Hill to prevent further abuse from visitors. Barbed wire fences now block access to roads at both the top and the bottom of the hill and violators are accessed hefty fines.

Todays Route 66 travelers should take Cerrillos Road (NM 14) as it leaves downtown Santa Fe making its way to the southwest for 7.5 miles before it joins up with I-25. Continue on the Interstate for 18 miles and use exit #258 and travel about six miles to the San Domingo Pueblo.

A great side trip presents itself along this route. Just 6.3 miles to the south of the junction of NM 14 and I-25, is El Rancho de los Golondrinas just north of the village of La Cienga. This living history museum is a recreated Spanish Colonial village sitting on over 200 acres. Take Exit #276 to the west frontage road, and turn right onto Los Pinos Road to the museum.



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