Some Santa Fe Roundhouses

Last revised: July 21, 2002
Maintained by Evan Werkema.

In the days of steam, Santa Fe had dozens of roundhouses across its system for servicing locomotives. A good number survived into the diesel era, but by the early 1990's, every last one still owned by the railroad had been demolished. The last ones to go were Amarillo, TX, last used as a diesel service facility, and San Bernardino, CA, which had been converted into a battery shop. Amarillo was demolished in 1990, and San Bernardino went in 1995 as the entire San Bernardino shop complex was levelled to provide more space for trailer parking. Luckily, a small handful of roundhouses sold to other entities do survive, although none can truly call their futures secure. The survivors, and a few that didn't make it, are shown below. If you have pictures or information to add, drop us a line.


Las Vegas, NM

The roundhouse at Las Vegas, NM is the only true Santa Fe roundhouse known to survive. The 34 stall structure was a typical "low-type" roundhouse built to plans drawn in 1916. A 100-foot through plate girder turntable provided access to the stalls. At some unknown date, the roundhouse was apparently sold for use as a wool warehouse, and the turntable and all tracks were removed. The building was subsequently abandoned, but it and the equally abandoned roundhouse office, visible on the right in the top photo, still stood as of 1999. The bottom view shows how the north wall of the roundhouse looked in 1981 before the windows were covered with corrugated metal siding.

Etter, TX

Though not technically a "roundhouse," the rectangular, two-stall enginehouse at Etter, TX is a survivor nonetheless. It was built in 1931 when Santa Fe reached Etter and crossed a branch of the Rock Island. Santa Fe had trackage rights on the Rock from Etter to Morse to contect with the Santa Fe branch from Shattuck, OK, and apparently Etter's role as a junction warranted the enginehouse. The building was eventually sold to a local fertilizer dealer for use as a warehouse. The new owners clad the structure in plywood, removed one of the front doors, and added a roll-up door to the rear to allow trucks to enter. The rather nondescript structure was still standing as of June 2000, and appeared to still be in use. (Thanks to Fred Napp for the update).

...and some that didn't make it.

Redondo Junction, Los Angeles, CA

Located several miles south of the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, the Santa Fe roundhouse at Redondo Junction was built in 1914. One source claims the roundhouse originally had 35 stalls, but no physical or photographic evidence has yet been uncovered to indicate that the house ever had more than 25 stalls. The turntable was a 120-foot through plate girder design. Photos going back to the 1930's show the roundhouse without doors, and given the area's mild climate, it probably never had them.

The Redondo Junction roundhouse was sold to Amtrak in January 1977, and continued to service the passenger carrier's locomotives through the 1990's. In May 1999, Amtrak completed a new service facility north of the roundhouse. The house was demolished in late July and early August 2000 to make way for further reconfiguration of the servicing area. The turntable is expected to remain.

The views at left show the roundhouse as it appeared in the 1990's.

Albuquerque, NM

The 35-stall Albuquerque roundhouse was built in 1914-15. It included four "long" stalls on the east side that could accomodate Mallets and other large engines. The turntable was an 85-foot through plate girder table that was extended to 120 feet. The house was part of large shop complex that was largely rendered surplus by the introduction of diesels. The Albuquerque roundhouse had the honor of housing the Santa Fe's historic locomotive collection from the 1970's until 1986, when the collection was sent to the California State Railroad Musuem in Sacramento, CA. In July of the following year, demolition of the the roundhouse was begun. Most of the structure was reduced to rubble, but three stalls on the west side were left more or less intact for several months. The lower photo shows the remains of the roundhouse as they appeared in October 1987, with the shop buildings and downtown Albuquerque in the background. Even this remnant of the roundhouse was gone a few months later.

Belen, NM

The Belen roundhouse was built to plans drawn in 1906 as the construction of the Belen Cutoff to the east suddenly made this backwater town an important location on the railroad. Steam-era pictures show the house with 17 stalls, but at some point it was reduced to 9. The stalls were removed from the eastern end, and the "hole" was covered with corrugated siding as shown in the pictures at left. The turntable was a 120-foot through truss design capable of turning the railroad's largest steam power. A powerhouse was erected immediately behind the roundhouse.

Belen was the base for the very last Santa Fe steam operations. A handful of 4-8-4's and 2-10-4's were used in helper service over Abo Pass in 1956 and 1957 after steam operations had ceased everywhere else on the system. Two of those engines stayed at Belen long after the final steam run was made in August 1957. Held for posterity by the railroad, ATSF 4-8-4 2925 and 5021 were housed in stalls 7 and 8 in the Belen roundhouse for nearly 25 years. In the early 80's, the big steamers were moved north to Albuquerque, and later ferried west to Sacramento, CA with the rest of the historical locomotive collection. In November 1987, Santa Fe cleared out most of the remaining steam-era facilities in Belen, demolishing the roundhouse, the powerhouse, and the nearby water tanks. The turntable alone was spared.

Clovis, NM

Clovis was also built in to plans drawn in 1906, and expanded in 1910. The turntable was a 120-foot through truss design similar to Belen. Nine stalls remained when the pictures at left were recorded in 1984. In 1987, Clovis joined Belen, Albuquerque, and El Paso, TX in meeting the wrecking ball.

Amarillo, TX

The Amarillo roundhouse was the last Santa Fe roundhouse used to service locomotives. It had been reduced from 28 stalls to four by the time this picture was taken in 1986, and appeared to be out of service. The remaining stalls were demolished in April 1990.

Lometa, TX

The last surviving Santa Fe frame roundhouse, by a wide margin, was this four-stall structure at Lometa, TX. When it was built in 1913, the house was a textbook example of the 1910 Low-Type roundhouse plan depicted on p. 346 of Santa Fe System Standards Vol.3. Out of service by 1949, the roundhouse was purchased by a wool merchant and rebuilt for use as a warehouse. The structure's charmed existence came to an abrupt end on June 2, 1988 when it was blown apart by a tornado. R. J. McKay provided these 1974 views of the roundhouse.

Purcell, OK

The doorless, limestone roundhouse at Purcell, OK lasted into the 1980's before being torn down, though it had stood unused for years previously. When Jim Pattillo photographed it in February 1968, the roundhouse was being used to store one of Santa Fe's steam generator cars. Jim also took another a slightly different view of the roundhouse and nearby F-units.

A couple of mysteries:

Don Harmon sends along a pair of postcard photos, supposedly of Santa Fe roundhouses, but with little identifying information. This first photograph was taken by a photographer who lived in Albuquerque, NM. If anyone has information on this structure, please contact me.
The second photo shows a roundhouse destroyed by some catastrophe. Again, any information on the structure pictured would be appreciated.

  1. Crump, Russell, "Santa Fe's Vanishing Roundhouses," The Santa Fe Modeler, Vol. 11 No. 2 (2nd Quarter 1988), pp. 21-27.
  2. "More Santa Fe's Vanishing Roundhouses," The Santa Fe Modeler, Vol. 11, No. 3 (3rd Quarter 1988), pp. 25-28.
  3. McMillan, Joe, Route of the Warbonnets, McMillan Publications, 1977.
  4. Moore, John, "Turntables of the AT&SF Railway," The Santa Fe Modeler, Vol. 8 No. 5 (Sept/Oct 1985), pp. 24-25.
  5. Serpico, Philip C., Santa Fe Route to the Pacific, Omni Publications, 1988.
  6. Stagner, Lloyd, Santa Fe 1940-1971 In Color, Vol. 3, Morning Sun Books Inc., 1993.

Steve Sandifer maintains a page on Texas Roundhouses which includes a few Santa Fe and GC&SF structures.

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