Santa Fe Locomotive #643
Steamer No. 643, weighing 125,000 lbs, was built by Hinkley in 1879 for the ATSF (Santa Fe) Railway as a 4-4-0 No. 73 and named the “H. C. Hardon.” In 1897, the Santa Fe Railway rebuilt No. 73 into a 2-8-0, renumbering it as No. 933. The locomotive bears little resemblance to its original 4-4-0 state, and likely very little of No. 73 “H. C. Hardon” remains. A general renumbering occurred in 1900, and No. 933 became No. 643, the road number it kept until retirement.
In March of 1953, the engine was working in the Santa Fe’s Southern Division in freight service. The locomotive retired in April of 1953 and was donated to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds for display. In 2015, No. 643 was donated and moved to the Oklahoma Railway Museum along with FRISCO caboose 649. The smokestack had to be removed temporarily to clear low obstacles on the route. The locomotive’s cosmetic restoration was completed in 2016 and it is now on display.
No. 643 is a welcome addition to the museum along with the FRISCO caboose that was coupled to the engine and a vintage ATSF hand pump car which was part of the display.
Museum volunteers worked several months to prepare the equipment for the move to the museum on Friday, January 2, 2015. It was moved by special trailers to accommodate the immense size and weight of the engine and caboose from the fairgrounds to the museum. Today, the Steam Engine has been cleaned and cosmetically restored as a static display.