Society Information

As stated in its Articles of Incorporation, the purposes of the Society are:

To promote, stimulate, foster and encourage by all legal manner and means the gathering, cataloging, preserving and making available to the general public for viewing, education and research, actual documents, equipment, photographs of equipment or structures, and any other data available concerning the history and heritage of The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, Incorporated and such predecessor, partnership, subsidiary, or successor organizations of that Company as history may disclose.

To advance the hobby of railroad history in general, and of The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, Incorporated in particular, wherever and whenever possible by publications, meetings and all things necessary or incident to these purposes.

In support of these purposes, the Society:

  • Publishes its quarterly magazine, The Warbonnet
  • Distributes its quarterly newsletter, Running Extra
  • Offers a comprehensive book publication program
  • Preserves and reprints historic documents
  • Organizes an annual Convention devoted to the history and modeling of the Santa Fe
  • Runs Santa Fe model and photo contests
  • Maintains on-line resources and archives devoted to preserving the history of the Santa Fe in media and model alike
  • Works with members and the general public to preserve Santa Fe documents.

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Working with the Society

The Society is a volunteer entity composed of thousands of Santa Fe fans, historians and modelers located in the United States and throughout the world.  The Society is governed by a five member Board of Directors elected by the membership.  The Society is managed on a day-to-day basis by its Business Manager, Raymond Woods.  In addition to the officers, directors and business manager, there are also a number of key volunteers who assist Society members and the public with questions about the Santa Fe and the Society.

  • If you need a contact list of Society officers, staff and volunteers, click here.
  • If you would like to review the Society’s Bylaws, click here.
  • If you would like information about the restoration projects for Santa Fe equipment and structures, click here.
  • If you would like information on how to obtain grant funding for Santa Fe equipment and structure restoration, click here.

History of the Society

The history of the Society dates back to late 1969, when Bob Longo circulated a letter among some Santa Fe enthusiasts. Bob’s letter led to the formation of the first organized group that is an indirect ancestor of today’s Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society.

The Santa Fe Modelers Association

As a result of popular response to his letter, in November 1969 Bob Longo circulated the Newsletter to a group of fellow Santa Fe Railway enthusiasts.  The Newsletter quickly proved popular and grew into a formal organization, the Santa Fe Modelers Association (SFMA), in 1970.  The SFMA was formed:

For the purpose of bringing information about the ATSF to those in the model railroading hobby interested in this company; its equipment, structures, roadway, operating practices, etc. Further, to serve the membership in such a way that their interest in the ATSF and in the hobby be made more keen and pleasurable.

In pursuit of this goal, the SFMA published the Newsletter from November 1969 through March-April 1971.  The Newsletter was converted from newsletter to magazine format and was renamed the High Iron, which was published from May-June 1971 through November-December 1973.

Interim Period

In 1974, after a reorganization, the SFMA slowly faded into the background. Bob Longo, the editor, enlarged and renamed the publication Southwestern Prototype Modeler, which was published by Prototype Modeler, Inc.  The expanded magazine included coverage of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific.  The scope of that publication changed again at the end of 1973 to cover the Santa Fe, Missouri Pacific and KATY, while the Southern, Western and Union Pacifics were covered by a separate publication, the Western Prototype Modeler.

Due to a continued interest by Santa Fe modelers in having their own magazine, in 1977 Bob Longo briefly introduced another magazine, the Santa Fe Prototype Modeler, which lasted for three issues (January-February, March-April and May-June 1977).  However, lack of readership forced Bob Longo to cease publication due for financial reasons. All the various Prototype Modelers were then merged back into a single magazine, Prototype Modeler, which had no further relationship to the Society.

The Santa Fe Modelers Organization

In late 1977, the Santa Fe Modelers Organization (SFMO) came into being through the efforts of Jared Harper. The SFMO was a new organization, although it continued the spirit of the former SFMA and involved many of the same individuals.  The SFMO immediately organized, elected officers and formed a continuing board of directors. The SFMO thus represents the direct corporate lineage of the Society today.  The SFMO launched its publication, the Santa Fe Modeler, with the first issue being November-December 1977.

The SFMO is responsible for starting many of the Society’s most important endeavors, including the publication of a quality magazine, the Santa Fe Modeler, the sponsorship of annual national conventions devoted to the Santa Fe, which began in 1981, and the beginnings of the Society’s Book Project, which is discussed in more detail below.

Jared Harper served as editor of the Santa Fe Modeler from 1977 through 1986, when he retired to pursue other interests.  Jay Miller took over in 1987 and edited the Santa Fe Modeler until 1993, when the next step of the Society’s evolution occurred.

The Santa Fe Railway Historical Society

In 1983, a group of Santa Fe enthusiasts, many of whom were members of the SFMO, organized under the leadership of John Berry to form the Santa Fe Railway Historical Society (SFRHS). The purpose of the SFRHS was:

by all legal manner and means the gathering, cataloging, preserving and making available for viewing, education and research, actual documents, equipment, photographs of equipment or structures, and any other data available concerning the history and heritage of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, Incorporated and such predecessor, partnership, subsidiary or successor organizations of that Company as history may disclose.

The SFRHS made it clear that its purpose was not to compete with the SFMO, but rather to serve as a curatorial organization to gather, preserve and publish archival information on the Santa Fe Railway that might otherwise be lost as the railroad purged its files of old records and materials.

The SFRHS published the Santa Fé Route to disseminate the information it gathered about the Santa Fe.  The Santa Fé Route was initially edited by Michael A. Martin, who edited the magazine until 1991, when he stepped down.  At that time, the Barbara Meyn took over the editing of the Santa Fé Route.  Ultimately, the Santa Fé Route was published in eight volumes beginning in the summer of 1983 and ending with an issue published jointly with the fourth quarter 1993 issue of the Santa Fe Modeler.

The Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society

Many individuals were members of both the SFMO and the SFRHS. Beginning in 1992 and extending through 1993, contacts between the boards of the respective organizations began to see whether a unified organization would be broader, stronger and more successful.  Ultimately, the boards voted to recommend, and the membership of both the SFMO and SFRHS agreed, to unify the two organization into a new organization, the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society (SFRH&MS).

Wally Abbey was recruited as the editor for the combined Society’s publication and produced a single issue newsletter in 1994 entitled Between Trains, but was then unable to continue.  Keith Jordan, a former president of the SFMO, then stepped forward and edited the initial issue of The Warbonnet, which came out in the first quarter of 1995.  He was followed by Kevin EuDaly, who edited the The Warbonnet from 1995 through 1996 before also stepping down. The Society then turned to John Signor, who took over the editorship in 1996.

In the third quarter of 1997, the Society expanded its periodical publications by adding the Santa Fe Flashes, which was renamed in the first quarter of 1998 as the Running Extra. The Running Extra serves as the Society’s newsletter and serves as a forum for the Questions and Answers column.  Eric Hiser edited both publications from their inception.

Since unification, the Society has moved aggressively to expand the Book Project, adding new titles and obtaining republication rights to other titles. The Society continued the annual conventions and the acquisition and preservation of archival materials. In a new endeavor, the Society developed a website to further its goal of disseminating information about the Santa Fe to historians, modelers and enthusiasts alike.