Clayton Avenue Roundhouse, Revisited

Update: Destroyed shortly after these photographs were taken.

I went by the old roundhouse on Clayton Avenue and realized the area had been completely transformed.

When I first went by almost a decade ago, the site had been choked with trees and thick underbrush. It grew even thicker in the intervening years, and I didn’t bother trying to get back to examine turntable.

But now with all of the volunteer trees hacked away, I was able to look closely at the very well preserved turntable, with its preserved superstructure that presumably provided an electrical power hookup for the motor that turned the base.

That motor and the associated gears are now easily viewable, as can be seen below. It’s pretty amazing to think that the little motor below and those gears transferring from the little to the big one could move such a huge platform. But it’s an age old method of amplifying force.

The wood planking is in surprisingly good condition, even after being exposed to the weather for decades of disuse.

As far as I know, the electricity came down from this apparatus before heading to the motor that rotated the turntable.

The diameter of the turntable was large, and over on the left you can see where there was a ladder or staircase, now gone, where access to the basin could be made.

The substructure of the turntable is a huge piece of steel, no doubt built to hold the load of the locomotive and its tender.

The rails that lead off to the different berths of the roundhouse are still extant, even if the building above them is gone.

The pits where mechanics could access the underbellies of locomotives are all filled in with dirt, as would be expected from such a long period of abandonment.

The train tracks the roundhouse once served still go by, and Metrolink uses two of them.

The massive grain elevator is just to the north, to give you a sense of location.

To the northeast, IKEA has taken over a huge swath of land at the corner of Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenue. The area is changing rapidly.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Schmitz says:

    Here is a picture from 1943 with Steam Locomotive on Roundhouse:

    UMSL archives:


    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Wow, that photo is amazing! Thank you.

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