Monticello, Ill. (WCIA).
The Monticello Railway Museum‘s got a new addition.
Now included in the museum’s collection of locomotives, rail cars, and rail equipment is a 90 foot, 98 thousand pound turntable.
The device was originally installed in Peoria in 1928 as part of the Rock Island Railroad.
A turntable is a bridge that can rotate 356 degrees. Since steam locomotives could only run in one direction, a turntable would maneuver the train so it could head back the way it came.
The devices were popular through World War II and into the 1950s, but when diesel locomotives replaced steam locomotives turntables began to disappear.
The Rock Island turntable remained in operation in Peoria through the 1980s, but was eventually forgotten in the rail yard along with many turntables across the country.
“There’s maybe half a dozen left in Illinois that are functional,” says John Sciutto, past president of the Monticello Railway Museum.
Once the museum acquired the Rock Island turntable from the city of Peoria, they had to think about how they would move it.
In early March, volunteers helped disassemble the turntable and its arch from its original location in Peoria. A truck then transported the device to the museum in Monticello.
As of now, the Monticello Railway Museum plans on re-building the turntable and restoring it to full operation. Sciutto told ciLiving Storyteller, Erin Valle, that the device will make it easier to maneuver passenger cars that are used on museum trains like The Polar Express.
“Having a turntable will make it… easier logistically for us to manage the railroad operation,” Sciutto says. “So we’re very excited about that opportunity as well.”
There’s still some work to be done in the following year; the museum is working with a structural engineering firm to make sure the turntable meets federal weight regulations.
“It’s actually part of our museum master plan that we have going on which we implemented years ago. Probably about 80% of the projects have been completed so it’s a pretty significant achievement for the museum,” says Sciutto.