Tour #2: Very Large Array, Socorro Layout Tour, Belen Harvey House, BNSF Yard & Dinner at Pete’s New Mexican Restaurant


Monday, June 24, 7:30 AM – 9:00 PM Tour Price: $99 

The Very Large Array is one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories. Radio telescope antennas are used to measure and image, at radio wavelengths, the natural phenomena of the universe. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has constructed 27 radio telescopes antennas, each 82 feet in diameter. These are spread out in a ‘Y’ shaped configuration on the high Plains of San Augustin in west central New Mexico. To provide flexibility each of the attennas can be moved on a special railroad that consists of 40 miles of double standard gauge track. Two 90 ton rail transporters, running on both tracks, are each capable of picking up one of the 325 ton attennas and moving it to a station along the rail system.

Join us for a tour of the VLA and get up close to an attenna and transporter to see how a move is performed. Learn about the groundbreaking science by the most powerful radio antenna in the world! We then travel to Socorro (lunch on the bus) to see two layouts. Then, it’s on to Belen for a stop at the restored Harvey House Museum and the BNSF yard on the Transcon. Dinner next door at Pete’s New Mexican restaurant is on your own.

How does the VLA work?

The VLA is an interferometer; this means that it operates by multiplying the data from each pair of telescopes together to form interference patterns. The structure of those interference patterns, and how they change with time as the earth rotates, reflect the structure of radio sources on the sky: we can take these patterns and use a mathematical technique called the Fourier transform to make maps.

The VLA is used primarily by astronomers from around the world. It’s also occasionally used for atmospheric/weather studies, satellite tracking, and other miscellaneous scientific studies.


Telescope with Transporter

The VLA at Sunrise

The VLA’s ‘Y’ Configuration


Visit the VLA website


Belen’s Harvey House

Belen’s Harvey House operated from 1910 to 1939. It had a first-class dining room and a lunchroom with a large horseshoe-shaped marble counter. The Harvey Girls lived upstairs, as did the dorm mother and the office manager and his wife.

In the 1940’s, it briefly reopened during World War II, with many Harvey Girls coming out of retirement to serve troop trains. In the 1950’s, it became the Santa Fe Reading Room for railroad employees, serving as a breakroom and dormitory through the 1970’s

Boarded up and readied for demolition, a campaign by citizens of Belen saved the building from being torn down. In 1982, the Santa Fe Railroad donated the building to the City of Belen and hundreds of volunteers began restoring the building.

The Harvey House reopened in 1985 as a civic center, a scattering of government and nonprofit offices and small museum. Activities took a toll on the aging building, so to ensure its preservation, it was repurposed and became completely devoted to the Harvey House Museum, which features a strong collection of railroad and Belen historical artifacts and information.

In 2013, the Valencia County Historical Society turned over management of the museum to the City of Belen.

Today the Harvey House Museum specializes in Harvey House, railroad and Southwest history as a branch of the Belen Public Library.

The museum is open to the public and boasts the best view of Belen's incredible railyard and rail history.

Belen Sante Fe Yard

Belen BNSF Yard

Visit the Belen Harvey House website

One-way Driving time:  2½ hours.

Tour includes:  Round-trip motor coach transportation, tickets, taxes, gratuity, breakfast and lunch. Dinner is on you own at Pete’s New Mexican Restaurant. 

Special Wear:  None

ADA Compliant: