The cattle car formerly on the grounds of the Osage County Historical Society Museum has joined the train display at Bartlesville’s downtown depot.
The car, donated to the museum in 1969 by the Santa Fe railway, was in a deteriorating condition. It is being fully restored by the Friends of Locomotive 940, a volunteer group of train enthusiasts responsible for the depot display.
The Friends organization arranged for the city of Bartlesville to obtain the car under a 25-year renewable lease with the OCHS.
“The society is so grateful that these volunteers came to us with the expertise and the financial means to restore this vintage railroad car and place it in a location where so many people will be able to enjoy it,” said Joyce Lyons, society president.
As part of the lease agreement, a large information panel will be placed next to the car acknowledging the generosity and cooperation of the OCHS.
The goal is to restore the car as closely as possible to its original appearance, according to Dan Droege of the Friends group. The project is expected to be completed by the end of year.
The 40-foot-long car was first built as a box car in the period 1923-25. Around 1947 it was converted to a stock car to transport cattle or sheep. The conversion was made by replacing the solid wood sides with wood slats to allow ventilation for the animals.
Before the move to Bartlesville, the car underwent extensive metal repairs in Pawhuska so it could safely make the 25-mile journey to Bartlesville, which was handled by Taylor Crane & Rigging of Coffeyville.
The one-day move went smoothly, and the car has been placed for the time being at the north end of the display track, where restoration will continue behind a temporary chain link fence.
According to Droege, the next restoration steps will be installing a new wood floor and replacing deteriorated side slats. Painting and lettering the car will follow.
Randi Olsen, another volunteer with the project, noted that “nothing is simple” with restoration projects of this nature.
“The wood for the floor, for example, had to be custom-cut because the 70 boards needed are not of a standard size,” he said. “Consequently, we’ve purchased about 4,000 pounds of special order lumber to make sure the new floor is nearly identical to the original.”
When restoration is completed, the train will be uncoupled just behind the locomotive’s tender, separated and the cattle car moved into place by crane.
At one time, numerous cattle loading pens were located both in downtown Pawhuska and Bartlesville served by the Santa Fe and Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroads. Thousands of cars were loaded annually with cattle and other livestock from area ranches.
The Friends of the 940 spearheaded the relocation of Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 940 from Johnstone Park to the Bartlesville Depot in 2009. Since then the group has purchased and restored the Santa Fe caboose and the “Flying A” Associated Oil tank car now on the display track.