Townwest Sertoma Club
"Service To Mankind"
Volunteers Serving the Tulsa area since 1981
Meetings every Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m. 
Meeting location Ollie's Station Restaurant  4070 Southwest Boulevard  Tulsa, OK

Secretary Randy McGoffin


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Frisco 4500 Meteor Restoration Project
Townwest Sertoma Member Mike Massey
Restoration Project Manager



Frisco 4500 Meteor Status Report, June 4-5, 2011

On Saturday morning, June 4, 2011, the plans had been laid for the last move of the Frisco 4500.  It would be moved from the Holly Refinery in West Tulsa, Oklahoma about 3 miles down the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway track to the Route 66 Village at 3770 Southwest Boulevard.  Volunteers had worked for weeks to prepare the 300 foot track in the Village using materials donated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway.  Retired Hump Conductor Joel Million coordinated the materials acquisition.  Townwest Sertomans Mike Massey, Bob Schwarz, Ed Massey and Roy Heim aligned ties and drove spikes.  Retired BNSF employees from decades ago offered technical advice on how to get the jobs done.

At 8:00 in the morning TrafficSafety employees closed Southwest Boulevard and detoured traffic onto West 41st Street.  Don Cheetham of BNSF operated the large bucket loader, placing first gravel and then 7 40 foot panels in the street at the direction of Joel Million and Bandi Medrano.  Bandi Medrano's crews from On Track Rail Construction connected the panels and used 6" Dutchmen on the outside rails to begin the curving of the panels.  About 1:30 p.m. Russell Crosby's engine 104 made two test runs on the track.  The runs were good and the track was stable.

On Sunday morning, June 5, 2011, at 9:00, TSU Engines met at the Holly Refinery gate and moved the Meteor to the edge of the refinery.  They disconnected the Murray Hill passenger car and the Frisco 1157 Caboose for their voyage to the Village, while the 4500 awaited its turn on the TSU track.  Volunteer crew members walked beside the cars and they moved slowly from the refinery, through Garden City and onto the final leg along Southwest Boulevard.  When the cars arrived at the Village they were met by about 300 well wishers who lined the tracks and roadways.  The bright red TSU engine pushed the cars across the street and into the park where they were spotted.

Both TSU engines returned to Holly where they connected front and back to the 4500.  They pulled out of the refinery and into the history books as the first steam engine in over 100 years moved across the 90 pound rail.  The 4500 arrived at the Village location to a super star welcome.  Crew members waved to young and old visitors who came to see the historic move across the boulevard.  This had been an event that had been talked about for years. 

The 4500 was pulled past the Village to the TSU switch installed by On Track months earlier.  When the switch was thrown the 4500 was backed at a snail's pace across the brand new spur.  Joel Million had measured the curve throughout the length and found it to be well within the turn limits for the 4500.  All was well until the large drive wheels started to climb the incline into the Village rails.  The main drive wheels started to inch off the track.  Don Cheetham pushed on the side of the drive wheels and allowed the engine to move slowly backward.  The drive wheels stayed on the track as it inched along. 

When the 4500 finally maneuvered over the grade into the Village and connected with the Murray Hill Car a lot of cheers went up from the crowd.  There must have been over a hundred cameras of all kinds capturing the moment.  With a final adjustment all of the pieces were in place.  The Frisco 4500 Meteor, Murray Hill Car and Frisco 1157 Caboose were all in place where they will stay forever. 

Unless, that is, they are requested by the War Department.  There are rumors that the original contract between the City of Tulsa and Frisco Railway was that the engine could be recalled in the event of war and it was needed for service.  That story will take some research.

A few minutes after the TSU engine backed across the boulevard Bandi Medrano's crews unbolted the rail panels, Don Cheetham gently picked them up and piled them next to the 4500 for delivery back to the BNSF Cherokee Yard.  Cheetham and Medrano used their loader buckets to scrape the rail bed rocks from the street and load them into a truck owned and operated by Steve Northcutt of Northstar Trucking.  The borrowed rock was returned to the City of Tulsa in Garden City.

Firefighters from Tulsa Fire Station 12 came to the Village and washed down the boulevard with a high pressure 3" line.  It was powerful enough to move the rock to the curb where it could be picked up and piled with other materials for the return trip.  At 4:00 the road was back to normal, a little cleaner, and the boulevard was opened.


Frisco 4500 Status Report, May 2, 2010

On Sunday morning, May 2, 2010, the Frisco 4500 engine popped, creaked and rust dust puffed from the drive wheels about 8:30 a.m. as members of the SKOL Railroad tugged the engine backwards from its resting place since 2004.  The same crewmembers pushed it in when the engine was moved from Owasso.  On the ground were Townwest Sertoma Club members who restored the engine and tender to display status.  They were accompanied by Joel Million and others of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF), employees of Hulcher Emergency Services who walked along the side to monitor the wheels and rails. 

David Yowell, Chairman of the Save the Old Frisco 4500 Engine for Tulsa Committee, was on site to see this great progress.  David was the man who started the movement to save the engine.  He was joined by other committee members.  Now deceased Tulsa historian Beryl Ford and deceased former Tulsa City Councilor Darla Hall would have been proud of the accomplishments.  They were tireless supporters of the efforts to save the engine.  Former Park Superintendant Mary Ann Summerfield who guided the acquisition process through the city was not present, but was remembered for her support.  Former Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune also provided his support during the negotiations that allowed the committee and Townwest Sertoma Club to do the move and restoration.  

There was no official notification of the move, but a few small crowds showed up to wave the engine along on its way to West Tulsa and the Holly Refinery secure yard.  South Kansas Oklahoma Line (SKOL) Railroad passed the engine to BNSF just north of East Archer Street.  BNSF placed an engine in front of and behind the 4500 to satisfy the railroad requirements.  As the trio moved south into the north side of downtown Tulsa the crowd was treated to the first ringing of the beautiful brass bell on the front of the engine.  The bell had been mounted between two American flags that rippled in the breeze atop the silver painted front end.  Ringing the bell from the engineer's cab was Carbondale resident Ed Massey.  His brother Mike Massey is the restoration project manager.  In a selfless and caring move, Mike Massey allowed brother Ed the first opportunity to man the cab and ring the bell.  Mike had his turn later as the 4500 moved, now much quieter, across the railroad bridge over the Arkansas River.  Sertoman and restoration partner Bob Schwarz had suffered through many hours of sanding, scraping and painting in the last year.  He was rewarded with a trip in the engineer's cab as the train snaked its way through Tulsa, across the river and through old West Tulsa.  Bob's dream of being in the engine started when he was 8 years old.

After the river bridge crossing the back BNSF engine unhooked as the last leg of the trip began.  BNSF crews pushed from the front as the 4500 started backing under the I-244 bridge in a turn reported to be right at the limit for the drive wheels.  The turn between the BNSF mainline and Southwest Boulevard has been on the minds of everyone since the first discussion related to a move on the Union Pacific track in West Tulsa.  Half the distance through the tight turn the 4500's third drive wheel started to lay down the rail.  Hulcher Emergency Services and BNSF employees held a discussion and called for a "frog", while onlookers prayed for a miracle.  A heavy BNSF truck with a boom pulled alongside the engine.  The boom looked pretty skimpy for the job.  It was not used however.  A couple of the crewmembers lifted a heavy metal piece off the truck and placed it under the drive wheel.  They applied a liberal coating of oil on the track and wheel.  Everyone stood back as the BNSF engine pushed - hard.  The 4500 moved and slid back up on the track.  It continued through the turn and came out from under the bridge into the bright sunlight for the first time in over 50 years as it entered West Tulsa.

The 4500 backed its way past the OSU Osteopathic College, the West Playground of River Parks, under the West 23rd Street Bridge and the City of Tulsa Public Works complex.  The 4500 was moving silently as it passed the crowds at West 25th Street.  There was no creaking, popping or dusty drive bearings.  Only the BNSF engine made noise.  The bright colors of the dark blue engine with a shining silver nose stood proudly in the sun as it backed quietly into the Holly Refining yard, awaiting the next move to the Route 66 Village transportation theme park at 3770 Southwest Boulevard in Tulsa. 


Ed and Mike Massey readying the 4500 for the trip.


Bob Schwarz and rail crewman

Frisco 4500 pulled through Tulsa by BNSF Engines

The 4500 just crossed the Arkansas River Bridge in Tulsa under the power of Burlington Northern Crews and Engines

4500 Restoration Crew Members
Jared Sampson, Bob Schwarz, Mike Massey, Benny Leonard, Ed Massey, Tom Cue, Sam Burnett and Ed Taylor.



Frisco 4500 Status Report, March 2010

Restoration Manager Mike Massey reported to the Townwest Sertoma Club members that the Frisco 4500 engine move is getting near!  He estimates that the engine will be moved to the Holly Refinery spur and then on to the Route 66 Village site at 3770 Southwest Boulevard via the Tulsa Sapulpa Union Railroad.  Massey expects the restoration crew will have the light and bell installed on the engine before Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) makes the hospital move of the engine across the river.  There was quite a bit of excitement generated in the meeting as they described the blue and silver engine coming across the Arkansas River Bridge for the first time in decades.  Joel Million of BNSF has been with the committee and project team since the beginning.  He has spent countless hours working to make this move happen.  Thanks also to Jared Samson, Sam Burnett, Manny Upton and Chuck Sittler for their many hours of work.  There are many others on the growing list of supporters to keep the 4500 here in Tulsa.  We plan to highlight them in future updates.    

April 2007 was a significant month for the restoration crew.  Ace Sign Company came out during a cloudy Tuesday morning and installed the "Frisco" and "4500" lettering on the engine.  We're in the process of installing some final pieces before the 4500's triumphant return to West Tulsa.  The 4500 will be staying temporarily at the Sinclair Oil Company before moving to it's home on Historic Route 66 in the Old Red Fork, Indian Territory area of Tulsa on Southwest Boulevard. Thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and supporters who have made this miracle transformation possible.  

Sertoma Member Bob Schwarz, retired from American Airlines, joined the Frisco restoration crew in 2008.  He and Mike Massey have put in many hours preparing the 4500, Murray Hill passenger car and the Frisco Drover Caboose for the move to Southwest Tulsa.

        The time is getting near for the Frisco 4500 to come home!




Rick Gerkin, owner of Ace Signs, 5823 S 65 W Ave in Tulsa, Oklahoma applies "Frisco" and "4500" to the new blue paint.

Mike and Ed Massey discussing how they are going to rotate a set of wheels and line up shaft for the bearings.

Ed Massey at the wheel, the big wheel that is!  There are very few small things on this wonderful engine from the past.

Frisco 4500 Status Report, March 3, 2007

Deep Blue and Silver has replaced years of rust!

Jared Samson, Sam Burnett and Chuck Sittler pause
at the front of the Frisco 4500 engine, March 3, 2007

Manny Upton and Ed Massey of Tulsa
stand in the reflecting sunlight of the 4500

Cold weather hasn't stopped Ed Massey
in reinstalling the jewelry.


4500 Restoration Manager Mike Massey
gives brother Ed a little direction.


Frisco 4500 Status Report, November 1, 2006


Frisco 4500 move to Tulsa from Owasso on October 9, 2004

Pulled from St. Louis, Mo. thru Tulsa to Okla. City and back on a daily basis from 1942 to 1947. The engine was demoted to freight service in 1947 until it was officially retired in 1950. The "4500" was donated to the City of Tulsa in 1954 and was parked in Mohawk Park Zoo on August 26, 1954. It remained there as a static display until it was removed and pulled to the Owasso, Oklahoma rail yard to be renovated in 1991. Renovation was slow with most of the work done on weekends by volunteers. By year 2000 most all work on the engine had come to a halt with only one or two people working on it. In December 2002, an article about the engine was printed in the Tulsa World. The City of Tulsa was trying to decide what to do with the old engine. There was mention of even selling or giving it to Oklahoma City. A grass roots group called "Save the Old Frisco 4500 for Tulsa Committee" stepped up and eventually convinced the Tulsa Parks Department to keep the engine here in Tulsa, restore it, and place it on permanent display for all of Tulsa to enjoy.











The restoration begins in 2004




Painting and Scraping in 2005
Mike Massey announced the beginning of spray painting in the summer Sertoma meetings.  A Tulsa fireman donated his high-pressure cleaning unit to the club to spray the engine and tender.





 Then, a volunteer painter donated his services to begin painting the engine.  As the summer heat faded the 4500 took on a new look.  A fresh coat of gray primer started the change from rust brown to a gray ghost appearance.





Save The Old Frisco Engine For Tulsa Committee Members





2006 Major Progress Continues on Engine July 2006







The Dream of A Distant Frisco Whistle


What's in store for the Frisco 4500 next?

Westside planning team members are working with the Route 66 Village Councilors and supporters on the site for the 4500 be near the Cherokee Yard in West Tulsa.  The primary site is located at 3770 Southwest Boulevard, across from the entrance to Webster High School.  Funding for the site is from the Tulsa County Vision 2025 projects package and Oklahoma State Centennial.   

How can I work on the restoration of the Frisco 4500 Engine?
Restoration Manager Mike Massey has safety equipment and tools available for Sertoma Club members to work each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., barring emergencies. 

What must I do to become part of the restoration crew?
The Townwest Sertoma Club encourages railroad enthusiasts to come and lend a hand on the pre-painting scraping and cleaning.  The liability insurance requirements limit workers to Sertoma Club members.  You can be an active member of any Sertoma Club. If you are not a member and are interested, please contact Townwest Secretary
Randy McGoffin for information.






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Last Updated:    Thursday, June 23, 2011

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