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Hot spots in New Mexico draw steady work

A look at the state's top locations

The Albuquerque Rail Yards

With their cavernous interiors, giant columns and huge glass windows, “they’re sort of like industrial cathedrals,” says “Transformers” location manager Ilt Jones of the 1920s-era train sheds in downtown Albuquerque. “As soon as Michael (Bay) clapped eyes on pictures of them, he knew he wanted to film there.”

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Imogene Hughes hosts film shoots, from “The Cowboys” to “Lonesome Dove,” on her family ranch just south of Santa Fe. The centerpiece is a Western town with 24 four-sided structures, which grows as productions add to it. However, not all movies leave new buildings behind — “Wild Hogs” blew up a bar there.

Ford Ranch

In 1984, Colpix built an elaborate Western set for “Silverado,” complete with a quarter mile of railroad track, not far from Cibola National Forest, and nearly 100 films have shot there since. “Whereas ‘3:10 to Yuma’ had hitching rails in the streets, ‘Conspiracy’ came in and replaced them with parking meters,” says ranch manager Steve Tremper.

White Sands National Monument

Located near Alamagordo, the park’s stark gypsum dunes provide a unique look to such films as “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Astronaut Farmer,” so long as productions are cautious about their environmental impact. “We realized the level of carnage we planned to wreak would not be compatible,” says Jones, so “Transformers” used the Army-owned missile range next door.

Zia Pueblo

Rather than opening a casino, the Zia tribe decided to allow film production on their lands. “The Missing” and “All the Pretty Horses” took advantage of the territory’s diverse landscape, which includes cliffs, valleys and a surreal gypsum quarry. The latter doubled as the Red Planet in “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.”

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