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The 95' long turntable was built for the New Haven Railroad yard in Danbury in 1917. Used to turn locomotives, it serviced a nine-stall roundhouse and was able to handle all but the longest locomotives that the New Haven operated - when the 3500's (4-8-2's) came along, the length of their tenders was too much. The engine stalls were torn down in January 1966, and there were two fires in the remaining building; one in Nov. 1976 and the other in April 1988. The turntable was worked up until the early 1970's; for the next couple of years the railroad used a truck to turn the table. After that, the turntable was not used at at all; the turntable pit was used to collect debris, including the remains of the 1988 fire.

Photo about 1957

Through the efforts of Museum volunteers, by the early 2000's the turntable was operational again, although turned by a gasoline engine rather than the original electric motor. It is the centerpiece of the Railyard Local train rides, and a one-of-a-kind experiece to take a 360 degree ride on it. In September, 2005 it was listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, and in 2007, the Museum was actively seeking funding in order to fully restore it.

Turntable photo about 2006; historic marker, 2007

The five photos above, below, and to the right show the state of the turntable in 1996 and early cleanup efforts. After clearing out the debris, and with nearly 20 years of neglect, volunteers found that the turntable was still operational except for the electric motor used to drive it; a gasoline engine was installed to replace it.

Photos about 1998.

Hard labor and perseverance paid off, and ....

In 2007, the turntable not only provided rides for Museum visitors, but also was used to turn equipment if necessary, and provide a well-lit caboose-tree for the Santa Express Train Rides.


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