Examiner Enterprise

Train Makes Move: AT&SF No. 940 returns to depot today

By Special to the E-E
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:45 AM CST

The sound of a steam locomotive whistle echoed through downtown Bartlesville this morning to mark the start the "homecoming parade" for AT&SF No. 940 back to the city's depot. The historic locomotive has been displayed behind a high fence in Johnstone Park for more than 53 years.

It arrived at the Bartlesville depot, about four blocks away, at about 10 a.m. this morning. Weighing 275,000 pounds without its tender, the locomotive traveled on a special 64-tire lowboy trailer, where it had been placed by two massive cranes Tuesday morning. Today, the cranes set the locomotive down on a new display track just north of the depot, where for this first time it will be accessible to the public.

The locomotive's whistle and bell, silent for more than a half-century, were sounded a second time when the locomotive arrived at the depot. The new 200-foot long display track for No. 940 was completed in November by a crew of community volunteers.

No. 940 is the sole survivor of 342 steam engines like it built for the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe retired the steamer in 1954 and, through the efforts of the Bartlesville Rotary Club, it was moved to Bartlesville for display in 1956.

Planning is under way for a cosmetic restoration of the locomotive, interpretative signage, lighting fixtures compatible with the era, an access stairway into the locomotive cab and other enhancements. The display track is long enough to allow several railroad cars to be coupled to the locomotive sometime in the future.

Steam locomotive moves such as this occur only a few times each decade in the United States. The unusual move was coordinated by Service and Manufacturing Corporation of Bartlesville with Taylor Crane and Rigging of Coffeyville providing a small army of men and an array of massive equipment to handle the move.

Planning for No. 940's return to the depot has been under way for nearly two years by a group of community volunteers and personnel from Service and Manufacturing Corporation. Although owned by the city of Bartlesville, the locomotive's relocation, along with the new display track and planned site enhancements, were financed entirely by private donations, with the Lyon Foundation and the Bartlesville (Monday Noon) Rotary Club taking lead roles.

A No. 940 Homecoming and Depot Birthday is being planned for 4:30-5:30 p.m. Dec. 17. The Bartlesville depot, now home of the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be 100 years old on that date. Details about this free public event will be released soon.