GN's Jackson Street shops in St. Paul, MN
Submitted 9/08/97 2217
From: Eric Hopp
I'm looking for information and photographs of the GN's Jackson Street shops in St. Paul, MN.
The Minnesota Transportation Museum now owns the roundhouse, and is converting a portion into a museum. One exhibit will be of roundhouses in general and Jackson Street in particular. *Any* data, photos, or personal reminisinces are very valuable, both for the exhibit and in guiding restoration work.
My own involvement is in developing exhibits and doing excursion train maintenance.
If you'd like to see the official page, may I direct you to http://www.mtmuseum.org Both views of the roundhouse look east by north-east.
A little history, as I know it...
The building was built in 1907, supplementing an earlier structure just to the west. It had 25 stalls, divided into five bays by masonry walls. If you look at the drawing on the web page above, (which I think shows the as-built appearance), the earlier structure would have butted up against the nearest stall. Both roundhouses were active for a while. Blueprints and photos from the mid-thirties show the earlier roundhouse half demolished and half converted to office/storage space. The newer building was remodeled twice in the 1920's, to accommodate larger, longer locomotives. Then in 1947, stalls 1-5 (counting counter-clockwise) were demolished, 6-10 converted to office space, 11-15 converted to storage with a new concrete floor and an overhead steel door replacing the roundhouse door, 16-20 converted to storage, except 16-17 retained their rails, as they featured a drop table and a 25 ton overhead crane, and stalls 21-25 were converted for diesels, with the floor lowered 30 inches and a second story added at platform height. The earlier structure was long gone by then. This final form still stands.
In 1959, the railroad abandoned the roundhouse, moving to the St. Paul Union Depot's. The Post Office purchased it. They covered the clerestory windows with sheet metal, built loading docks everywhere, hung florescent lights, filled in the tracks and stairs in the diesel stalls, so that the second story was on unbroken floor, and built a garage where the turntable had been. (The sheet metal over the clerestory windows, loading docks, garage, and hump over the 25-ton crane are very evident in the photograph).
In 1986, MTM bought the roundhouse. Tenants occupied the stalls and the museum used the garage and a pole barn they built to maintain the tourist trains. MTM has secured four ISTEA government grants for the restoration of the roundhouse. Roughly, they cover the work needed to open part of the building to the public and to reinstall the turntable.
The roundhouse was part of a much larger complex that extended to the northeast and to the west along the GN's Minneapolis to St. Paul four-track main. Two of the main tracks remain, and see a lot of use by BNSF and tenants UP and CP Rail. The roundhouse is one of only three buildings still standing.