A Workhorse for 50 Years
Locomotive No. 940 is the sole survivor of 332 steam locomotives like it built for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF). It is one of only 50 steamers of all types saved by the Santa Fe when it switched to diesel locomotives.
Built in 1903, the 940 spent several years traveling the rails through Bartlesville as it made trips between Tulsa and Chanute during 1949-52. The venerable steamer also worked in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas. In all, it pulled an estimated three million freight cars over its 51 years of operation.
Put Out to Pasture
The 940 was taken out of service by the Santa Fe in 1954 and moved to Bartlesville for display in Johnstone Park in 1956. For that move, a temporary track was constructed from near the Bartlesville Depot to the park, about four blocks away. A bulldozer pulled the locomotive to a display track, where it remained for more than 50 years.
Over time, the locomotive was locked behind a high chain-link fence and endured periodic flooding by the nearby Caney River. Railway preservationists advised the city to move the last-of-its-kind attraction out of the park and away from further flooding.
Return to the Depot
In 2008 a group of local citizens began building community support to return the 940 to a more accessible and appropriate location. The natural choice was alongside the picturesque Bartlesville Depot, itself more than century old. Between December 7 and 10, 2009, a small army of men and an array of specialized equipment managed the complex move back to the depot.
Two massive cranes placed the locomotive onto a 64-tire lowboy trailer for the four-block return trip to the depot. Despite icy temperatures, hundreds of residents and school children lined the route of the “homecoming parade.” At the depot, the cranes set the 940 down on a new 200-foot-long display track built by volunteers.
Moving the No. 940
Back on Track
Public access was a key priority in bringing the 940 back to the depot. To allow year-round entry to the 940’s cab, a dual-entry stairway was constructed on the west side of the locomotive in the spring of 2010. Since then, generous donors and enthusiastic volunteers have made other numerous improvements to the locomotive and the site including:
- Repainting of the entire locomotive and tender and applying new numbers and lettering.
- New wiring throughout to allow automatic illumination of exterior and interior lights.
- Refurbishment of the cab interior and seating.
- Interpretative signs adjacent to the locomotive.
- An automated air compressor system that allows visitors to blow the 940’s whistle during special events and designated times.
- Flood lighting and security cameras to provide 24-hour monitoring of the site.
- Many other enhancements including hoses replaced, lights repaired and visitor safety issues addressed.