A Santa Fe Railroad cattle car that has been out to pasture for more than 50 years may be getting a new lease on life, according to a proposal under consideration by the Osage County Historical Society.
The weather-beaten former stock carrier has been a fixture in Pawhuska’s central park for decades, one of the two rail cars donated to the Osage County group by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway after it abandoned the train depot in the mid-1960s.
A long, silver passenger/combination car — which had been used to carry travelers, freight and mail between Kansas and Oklahoma — stands prominently at the north end of the former Santa Fe Depot, which was been converted into the OCHS Museum. The cattle car slouches nearby between a much-used gazebo and an even-more-utilized skate park.
Offer to restore
Historical Society President Shirley Roberts recently announced that the historical society had received a proposal from a group — “Friends of 940” — that is interested in restoring the former cattle car and adding it to their impressive and expanding train display at the former Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Bartlesville.
While calling the train-restoration enthusiasts’ offer to adopt the railway car “great and exciting news,” Roberts was careful to not act on the proposal before first making the public aware of the situation.
With that in mind, the OCHS official last week released the following statement:
“The Osage County Historical Society has received a proposal from ‘Friends of 940’, which is a group of train enthusiasts located in Bartlesville. The proposal states the ‘Friends of 940’ will restore the cattle stock train car owned by the Osage County Historical Society. In the best interest of preservation and education, the Society would agree to lease the cattle stock train car to be restored by transferring it to the Bartlesville Santa Fe Railroad Depot, where it will be on exhibit with national park quality signage telling the story of our cattle stock train car.”
“If this is agreed to, the public will be able to visit the restored cattle car at any time,” Roberts said.
Should any resident of Osage County have comments, suggestions or questions regarding this proposal, Roberts asked that they please contact the historical society at email@example.com.
“Comments, suggestions or questions will be received until Feb. 28,” Roberts statement concluded.
Dan Droege of the “Friends of 940” group said the Pawhuska cattle car — called a “stock car” — is a type of rolling stock that could be used for carrying various livestock to market. A traditional stock car resembles a boxcar with louvered instead of solid car sides (and sometimes ends) for the purpose of providing ventilation.
“From what I’ve been able to determine, this Santa Fee car was probably converted from box cars between 1947 abd 1950,” Droege said.
He said the restoration would primarily involve replacing the deteriorated wood. However, some of the metal frame might also need to be shored up before the car can be moved, he said.
“It shouldn’t be too complicated,” said Droege.
If approval is granted by the OCHS, he said the car will probably be moved in March or April. Droege added volunteers of the group might be able to do the restoration work at the Bartlesville depot — something that has not been possible with their previous projects.
The group got its name from its original project of its Depot Train Display: AT&SF No. 940, a century-old steam locomotive that had been relocated to Bartlesville’s Johnstone Park — where it was often being exposed to floodwater. The 940 relocation/restoration efforts started in 2009.
Later, the “Friends” restored a 1914 “Flying A” oil tank car, which involved tracking down numerous replacement parts from various locations.
Santa Fe caboose No. 2259 was moved from the back yard of a retired railroader in Chanute, Kan. It has been restored to its 1948 as-built appearance, although the units interior is only about 90 percent completed.
Droege said the Depot’s Display area would not be large enough to incorporate a car as large as the OCHS combination passenger car into the project.
“We are trying to help them do something about the broken windows (on the combination car in Pawhuska),” Droege said. “Those are the kinds of things that are the most difficult to replace.”