Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

History Takes New Track ; 145-Year-Old BNSF Locomotive Shopshows History While Moving Forward

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

History Takes New Track ; 145-Year-Old BNSF Locomotive Shopshows History While Moving Forward

Article excerpt

In the massive locomotive shop in Oakland, diesel engines stand in various states of disassembly as skilled workmen overhaul the engines from the wheels up.

One locomotive rests on jacks minus its wheels, another is missing its engines, and another is further stripped down nearly to its frame.

This is the locomotive shop at the Topeka Shops, which has roots to more than 145 years ago, according to Topeka Capital-Journal archives. The locomotive shop, stretching about 1,000 feet long, is the largest building in the Topeka Shops.

In 1869, the Santa Fe Railway did maintenance on its locomotives and rail cars in two candlelit repair stalls.

Last week, workmen were stripping off sections of engine as a locomotive's overhaul began, and others are being reassembled on a different set of tracks.

Three parallel tracks run the length of the locomotive shop measuring hundreds of yards long.

Also known as Building 12, the locomotive shop itself looks much the same as it did when it was built in the 1800s.

But the workmen's faces are different, and the 19th-century coal- fired locomotives have evolved into the current-day diesel engines.

But side-by-side photographs of the locomotive shop's interior show a startling similarity.

The crane shown in the old photograph was used until about 15 years ago when it was replaced. Several cranes now span the width of the shop and run on two rails running the length of the building.

It emits a low rumble when it slowly rolls even a few feet. The locomotive shop handles heavy repairs and overhauls of engines that are done every few years. That shop also repairs locomotives sustaining damage during wrecks.

In the mild early fall temperatures, doors stand open, and ceiling fan blades, which are several times longer than a home fan, stir the air. …

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