Examiner Enterprise

Locomotive No. 940 Comes Home Wednesday

By Special to the E-E
Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two massive cranes will arrive in Johnstone Park this afternoon (Sunday, Dec. 6) to prepare for the return of historic locomotive AT&SF No. 940 to the Bartlesville depot on Wednesday.

The cranes will be used to lift the 300,000-pound locomotive onto a specially built lowboy trailer for a "homecoming parade,"" which will move along the street behind the Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium, south one block along Johnstone Ave, then west along Hensley Blvd. to the railroad tracks.

Taylor Crane and Rigging of Coffeyville is providing the cranes and trailers required for the four-block transfer with Service and Manufacturing Corporation of Bartlesville providing overall coordination of the unusual move. Steam locomotive moves such as this occur only a few times each decade in the United States.

The public is encouraged to come out and watch events unfold Tuesday and Wednesday. Organizers have released this moving schedule, which will be updated as necessary:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 8 -Staging Day
    10 a.m.
    Locomotive will be lifted onto its 8-axle, 64-tire trailer.
    1 p.m.
    Tender will be lifted onto its trailer.
    The units will be lifted approximately six feet in the air or just high enough to transfer them to their trailers. Once on the trailers, the locomotive and tender will be moved to a staging area a few hundred feet away in preparation for the move the next day.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 9 -Moving Day
    9 a.m.
    Move of the locomotive will begin from Johnstone Park and is expected to take about an hour. The tender will follow in a separate move, taking about 30 minutes. After the locomotive arrives at depot, it will take some time to get the cranes and rigging set up for the transfer to the recently completed display track just north of the depot.
    12 Noon-1 p.m.
    Locomotive will be lifted onto the new display track. Again, the locomotive will be suspended about 6 feet off the ground. The tender will be set down behind the locomotive at about 2 p.m. The units will face south, toward the depot.
    3 p.m.
    Move completed. Public will be able to approach No. 940 for close-up view.

In addition to watching the homecoming parade from the street, the public will be able to see and photograph the various phases of the move from designated viewing areas in Johnstone Park near the Nellie Johnstone oil derrick and from the west side of the depot parking lot.

A special public celebration - "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 event will be released following the locomotive move.

Although owned by the city of Bartlesville, the locomotive's return to the depot, along with the new display track and planned site enhancements, were financed entirely by private donations. Planning for the move has been under way for nearly two years.

Locomotive No. 940 is 106 years old, built by the Baldwin locomotive works for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. 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 Johnstone Park in August, 1956.

The locomotive is the sole survivor of 342 steam engines like it built for the Santa Fe, and is only one of 50 locomotives of all types saved by the railroad when it switched to diesel-powered locomotives.

No. 940 spent many years traveling the rails through Bartlesville as it made trips between Tulsa and Chanute. It also worked in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas, pulling an estimated three million freight cars while in service.