Friday, July 25, 2008

Locomotive Roundhouses

Railroads built roundhouses to service their locomotives. They were usually built around or next to turntables, as early steam locomotives usually moved only forward. Even after reverse capabilities were incorproated into their designs, locomotives often did not function well in reverse.

The first roundhouse was built in Derby, England in 1839 and was described in a book of the time thus: "The engine-house is a polygon of sixteen sides, and 190 feet (58 m) in diameter, lighted from a dome-shaped roof, of the height of 50 feet (15 m). It contains 16 lines of rails, radiating from a single turn-table in the centre: the engines, on their arrival, are taken in there, placed upon the turn-table, and wheeled into any stall that may be vacant. Each of the 16 stalls will hold two, or perhaps more, engines."

Since the 1940s, many roundhouse have been demolished or put to other uses, as they proved to be too small for later locomotives. The B&O Railroad, made famous by the board game, Monopoly, houses its musuem in its restored roundhouse in Baltimore, Maryland, said to be the world's largest 22-sided building. The first picture was made in 1942 of the Chicago & North Western Railway roundhouse in Chicago, Illinois. The second picture is of the Derby, England roundhouse, the afore mentioned, built in 1839, as it appeared in 2006.

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