One of our fantastic exhibits is an authentic Doodlebug railcar!
It was also called the ATSF M190 and was operated on many short routes throughout the southwest by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad during its time of service.
The name "Doodlebug" was often used to describe any self propelled railroad car. They were considered motorcars. These were quite differenlyt from steam locomotives. Doodlebugs were gas/electric engines generally used on short distance routes. These were routes that the railroad was expected to serve but too short a distance to be economically feasible with regular steam locomotives. The Doodlebugs were self contained units that usually could provide room for mail and passengers although some designs had the engine pulling one or two rail cars.
Today, The Doodlebug, ATSF M190, is on permanent display in Belen New Mexico. During the 1930s and 1940s, this particular train ran on a route between Albuquerque and Belen. It was considered a commuter route. The AT & SF M190 was built in 1932 by the Electro-Motive Corporation. This particular Doodlebug was essentially a baggage compartment train with a 900 HP gas engine. The M190 had the power to pull perhaps four passenger rail cars. In 1949 the engine was changed to diesel.
The M190 also served other cities and towns. During part of the 1950's and 1960's, the M190 was one of two trains on the Clovis to Carlsbad New Mexico run.
After the M190 was retired from service in 1968, it found its way to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento California. When the old M190 motorcar was discovered at the California museum, efforts were made between the governors of both states to return the historic rail motorcar to New Mexico for restoration and exhibit. Arrangements were made for the motorcar to be transported by flatbed train car to Belen. The M190 traveled down the San Joaquin Valley from Sacramento and over the Tehachapi Pass east of Bakersfield. From there it was straight across the Mojave Desert to Needles California, and a pretty direct line from there to Belen.
It's appropriate that the AT & SF M190 be exhibited at Belen, where the motorcar saw so much service.