If you pass the Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive intersection and look closely, you'll see a shiny, newly painted caboose.

That's because last week Santa Fe Public Works Director Isaac "Ike" Pino gave neighborhood advocate Rick Martinez the green light to paint the caboose after it had been neglected for years. Before, graffiti and peeling paint marked the object, which represents the last vestige of a bygone railroad era in Santa Fe.

In the '90s,

bought the caboose and kept it as a marker for what would become a new Railyard Park. But since then the railway company stopped maintaining it. 

Martinez, who chairs

, started

last year to the city and the various nonprofit interests that work on the Railyard. He didn't get far until last week when, after getting a few city councilors on board, he offered to paint the caboose for free himself. After clearing it with Santa Fe Southern, the city gave him the go-ahead. 

Martinez and local artist Tom Hyland spent Saturday and Monday painting the fresh coat. The new design also features the words "Santa Fe New Mexico" and a zia symbol on both sides of the caboose.


, says he's happy to offer his services.

"I've seen this contraption getting bombarded over the years with spray paint," Hyland says.


For his part, Martinez says he'll be taking care of the caboose and encourages anyone who sees it tampered with to report what they see to Keep Santa Fe Beautiful.

"I will maintain it from now on," Martinez says.

Despite his efforts, there's still a chance that the caboose could be permanently moved once construction on a federally funded underpass near the intersection begins next spring.