Milwaukee Road turntable will be installed at Silvis shop complex

SILVIS, Ill. — Canadian Pacific has donated the former Milwaukee Road twin-span turntable from Bensenville, Ill., to Railroading Heritage of Midwest America (RRHMA) for use at its Silvis shop complex. On Sept. 8, the turntable, constructed in 1937, was successfully split in two and loaded onto trucks for the move across Illinois to Silvis. Project managers Erik Hoofnagle and Dennis Daugherty coordinated the move for RRHMA.

While Silvis once had a turntable that served the Rock Island shop complex, it was removed and the turntable pit filled in decades ago. RRHMA plans to install the turntable in the footprint of the original, but the pit will have to be enlarged since the Rock Island turntable was 90 feet while the Milwaukee Road table is 110 feet.

RRHMA’s Erik Hoofnagle says the organization plans to repair any steel that needs replacement, sandblast and paint the table before installation. CP also donated the turntable ring and clips, which will be installed after a new concrete pit is poured. A set of plans for the pit was preserved and copies made available to RRHMA. The turntable will allow the organization to easily turn locomotives and other equipment at Silvis.

A former Milwaukee Road turntable is removed from Canadian Pacific’s Bensenville, Ill., yard for donation to Railroading Heritage of Midwest America’s Silvis, Ill., facility (RRHMA) ©Erik Hoofnagle

RRHMA President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Sandberg thanked Canadian Pacific for the donation, and donors who came forward at the last minute when plans came together to acquire and move the turntable. Also participating in the move was TN Track Services of Peoria, Ill.; Smith Specialized Heavy Haul, which provided truck transportation; and Crane masters, which provided the cranes to lift the table.

With the donation, it will be possible to see a Milwaukee Road steam locomotive on its home road turntable again. RRHMA owns and operates Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261, based in Minneapolis, which often rode the table when it pulled trains between Bensenville and Omaha and the Twin Cities in its days of regular service between 1944 and 1954. Sandberg has said that the Northern will visit Silvis at some point, although Minneapolis will remain its home base.

Part of the timetable is ready for transportation to Silvis, Ill. (RRHMA) ©Erik Hoofnagle

RRHMA is seeking donations for the upgrading and installation of the turntable at & on the membership and donation page.