1937 Milwaukee Road Turntable
This turntable was installed and put into operation in mid-1938. It was used continuously until the Milwaukee Road ceased operations officially in 1986. The turntable was manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania as their state of the art twin-span design, able to turn the heaviest locomotives efficiently and economically.
The turntable is 110 feet in length and is able to handle a 109-foot wheelbase – the same wheelbase as our Challenger No. 3985. The table has three points of contact equally distributing the locomotives’ weight between the center bearing and the outside perimeter end trucks with electric motors riding on a ring rail. The turntable was upgraded with roller bearings and new electric motors in the late 1960’s.
Soo Line acquired the Bensenville Yard when it purchased the Milwaukee Road in 1985. Canadian Pacific took over the yard in 1990 when it gained full control of the Soo Line in 1990. The turntable has seen continuous use through all the mergers.
In early 2022, RRHMA was contacted by Canadian Pacific (CP) about saving the turntable since it was being replaced. An agreement to preserve the turntable was reached in early August 2022. CP turned their last locomotive on the old turntable, a modern SD70 diesel, in the early morning hours of August 29. By 6 a.m. that morning disassembly began, with the move to Silvis, Ill. completed on September 13. That same day CP filled in the old turntable pit.
RRHMA is bringing new life to the former Milwaukee Road turntable. Together with skilled laborers and apprentices from two Quad Cities-based local unions, IMPACT – Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust</em, we’ve been able to move quickly on the full restoration of this vintage turntable.
Huge thanks go to Howard Steel, whose Local 853 has donated steel, design and manufacturing of original parts removed by apprentices of Ironworkers Local 111. We’re proud to work alongside these local tradespeople as we make Silvis and the Quad Cities a destination for this kind of specific and exacting work. Thanks also go to our friends at Helm Group and Industrial Steel Erectors of Davenport for material donations and support!
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