Monday, January 30, 2012

Roundhouse Remnants, Clayton Avenue

Finally, after weeks of waiting for the weather to break, I made it out to the only extant ruins of a locomotive roundhouse left in the City of St. Louis. It is weed choked, and even in the winter much of the form of the of the building is obscured. You can see the roundhouse below, in the Sanborn map from the early 20th Century.While the building is gone, the substructure is well preserved, and the actual turn table the locomotives would be turned on still survives. It seemed to be covered with blankets, but I saw no other evidence of people living on the site.
The large steel apparatus in the middle of the turn table perhaps provided electricity to the turntable, but I'm not sure.
What I found interesting is that I always had this image of the turntable being just that, a giant round disk that rotated all at once. In reality, the turntable, for lack of a better term, actually looks like more of a rotating bridge.
It is very cool to be able to see the round pit in which the turntable would have rotated, with a giant locomotive sitting on top of it.
It's hard to see, especially since dirt has been dumped on to of them, but the original concrete footings, presumably where the locomotives sat in the roundhouse, are still preserved as well. I know some roundhouses featured maintenance pits under the tracks, so the concrete may have been the sidewalks in between the rails. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating and forgotten relic of the past, right under the elevated lanes of Highway 40.

9 comments:

  1. Tom Maher - KirkwoodJanuary 30, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Chris -
    Looky at what I found! Pictures of the turntable in action from the mid-'50s! There are four on this page and a number on preceding pages, with engines on the turntable!
    How cool it this!
    http://www.westernrailimages.com/Wabash-Railroad/Wabash-Railroad/7193160_dg48BT/632412993_MobVg#!i=633012458&k=VHEGW
    US 40 was under construction and the bridge piers are still being poured!

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  2. Tom Maher - KirkwoodJanuary 30, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Forgot - Page 2 of the series has a partial photo of the actual roundhouse. Further on are views of the old Wabash station on Delmar - now part of the the Edwards Empire (a hotel?).
    My sis and friends used to take the Wabash to Chicago and then an electric service to South Bend to visit their BFs in the early '60s.

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  3. Yep, that is definitely the same place; the metal superstructure did hold the electrical lines, and the turn table was always an open pit style. Thanks so much, Tom.

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  4. Fascinating! I love all those relics of our past lying around ...

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  5. I'm pretty sure there is still a roundhouse building on Hall Street; however they converted the building to light industry. The street still curves around the building at Thrush and Hall street; but I'm sure none of the interior survives. I do remember this in operation back in the 70s; I was very surprised to come back in the 90s and see it wasn't there anymore.

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  6. How fascinating! So much so that I had to go down there and check it out for myself. The underlying gear and mechanism to turn the turntable was really interesting, as were all the rails still converging on the edge of the pit.

    Furthermore, Tom, that photo series of all the railroads and trains that you found is just fascinating.

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  7. Tom Maher - KirkwoodFebruary 1, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    I would think it would be worth-while for the P-D (or a TV station) to do a feature article on the turntable and the remnants of the roundhouse; perhaps it would arouse thoughts of preservation.
    I wonder who owns the ground?

    I found a site that traces roundhouses/turntables all around the world, and it states that there is/was remnants of another, smaller turntable, 300' East of the featured one - just the other side of the highway. Canna find traces on Bing, although there is a wooded area there.

    Amy - there was indeed a roundhouse on Hall Street, but at Humboldt; the concrete paths are still there, in a field. It was in operation until sometime in the early '70s.
    There was another on Hall, but further North, in on Doddridge - long since vanished.

    Casey - Thanks! Lots of fascinating info there!

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    1. Tom, I think I found that one on the Sanborn maps, but as you stated, all traces of it seem to be obliterated, much like the one south of Chouteau I profiled a week or so ago. As for the one on Hall, I'll definitely have to check it out now.

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  8. Tom Maher - KirkwoodFebruary 1, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Chris - the one on Hall at Humboldt is immediately alongside the road. Possibly some was obliterated when Hall was widened. It's even visible on Google driveby.

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A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.