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Roundhouse Remnants, Clayton Avenue

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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.

Update: As of November 2016, the site seems to have been demolished and cleared.

30 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. I am SO glad I found this site. I was doing a Google maps satellite search of the new Ikea site on Forest Park and Vandeventer, and since I’m always curious, I found the round structure by Clayton and 40. I did a Google search, and found your wonderful site on one of my favorite subjects….St. Louis history. Thanks for the pictures…I would like to see it, but am hesitant to go there by myself. I also enjoyed the site provided by Tom Maher of the Western Rail Images, being able to see the turntable in “action” was very exciting.

    • Barb, it is indeed in sort of a weird place–under an interstate overpass. Go with a couple of friends?

      • They are not as adventuresome (nosy?) as I am, and willing to climb through weeds and rocks like me. But, now that I think about it, I really just need someone to watch my back while I explore.

  8. I am going to be visiting relatives in St Louis next week and was curious if remments and table are still there. Would be cool to see.

      • It was still there in 2013.
        You might also insert 38.631987, -90.246190 on Google maps and driveby.

          • jim – just copy the coordinates and paste them into Google Maps or Bing Maps and then zoom in.
            Bing also has a Birdseye view feature besides the regular Satellite mode.

  9. That is really cool. It would be nice to see it working again. Would be a shame to see it rot into a pile of dust

  10. Got some great pics thank you. It deserves a better fit then to rust away in a field.

  11. I visited this site in January, it is still there. Some signs of habitation by homeless, who knows…I wonder if the Museum of Transport would acquire it, I know they already have one in their possession.

  12. Now, that’s weird. I recently came across this abandoned and overgrown turntable in Saint-Louis and now wanted to see if there is some information available about it. And I found this page, the pictures looked familiar – yes, that is it. But then I had a look at the text, and – oh, St. Louis, MO. Not the right continent, I was looking for Saint-Louis, Alsace, France. It has a twin of the structure you present: 47.5943918781945,7.551914818817227.

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