Highlights of the Roundhouse

ROUNDHOUSE HISTORY TIME LINE

February 28, 1827: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is founded.

May 21, 1842 : The first steam engine arrives in Martinsburg.

November 10, 1842 : The first passenger train arrives in Martinsburg.

Years 1848-1850 : First Roundhouse Complex built at Martinsburg.

October 19, 1862 : Roundhouse Complex burned by Confederate Troops under Colonel Jackson.

Years 1866-1872 : Present Roundhouse Complex is re-built. Major buildings consisted of the West Roundhouse, East Roundhouse, Bridge & Machine Shop, and the Frog & Switch Shop.

July 16, 1877 : First nationwide strike begins when rail workers at Martinsburg start an action to protest pay cuts. Their work and traffic stoppage soon spread across the country.

March 14, 1988 : Facility closed down operations.

May 14, 1990 : Young vandals set fire to wooden pallets in East Roundhouse (later of the two) nearly totally destroying the building.

Years 1999-2000: Berkeley County Commission purchase B &O Roundhouse Complex and transfers property to newly created Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority. Restoration and renovation of complex begins.

July 30, 2003 : B & O Roundhouse is designated a National Historic Landmark.

 

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Highlights of Roundhouse

1. The fully enclosed 1866 roundhouse is supported by a sophisticated cast iron frame, designed in the mid-1850’s by an immigrant engineer named Albert Fink. These frame components were cast in Baltimore, shipped and assembled here, somewhat like and erector set. The B&O used at least 5 cast-iron roundhouses of this design. This is the last one remaining.

2.Evidence suggests that the present roundhouse occupied the location of the 1854 Gothic roundhouse burned in the Civil War. The 50- foot diameter pit below the turntable may actually include the original 40-foot diameter pit walls. The building would allow mechanics to bring the engine inside and onto the turntable, turn it and back it into a bay. The shape of the building and the original venting cupola allowed the smoke and steam to rise and escape above.

3.The Frog & Switch Shop (to the South) was originally called the Car Shop and was used to manufacture railroad freight cars used mostly for coal. It was built in 1867 using massive wood and iron trusses of substantial dimensions. At the end of the 19th century this function was moved to Brunswick, Maryland. Martinsburg began manufacturing frog and switch points which are specialized parts of the switches which guide the wheels of rolling stock from one track to another. Points are the long tapered rail sections and the frog is used to guide the wheels of the train through the center of part of the switch. It is called a frog because the earlier forms resembled the outline of a real frog.

4.Located in the rear of Frog and Switch Shop is an area that was used for general blacksmith work. It was originally used for a variety of tasks, from making axles to sharpening tools.