Home Open Account Help 282 users online

Nostalgia & History > Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse

Date: 09/15/20 04:45
Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: santafe199

One upon a time there was a bona fide engine service facility for the Santa Fe at Abilene, KS. At the southwest corner of the small yard there was once a couple of designated tracks and a small ‘shack’ where an engine tender could hang out while he kept watch over idle steam engine fires. There was even a small turntable that was crew-operated using main reservoir air supplied by hose by the very engine that was to be turned. Actual engine service was minimal at best. It would amount to the routine daily inspection things an engineman was required to check over every time he came on duty. Things like checking fuel level(s), engine water & lube oil, cab supplies, etc.

By the time my young grade school eyes (circa early 1960s) started hungrily watching everything the Santa Fe did in my 2nd hometown, steam was long gone from its rails. So an actual manned “roundhouse” job was relegated to history way before my time. But diesel engines & engine consists were still parked at Abilene on an every day basis, usually covering a variety of the day’s jobs. An experienced local hand could look at power and tell you right away what job it was for. But for the casual railfan photographer passing through town it was enough to know he could nearly always find power sitting around.

1. AT&SF 2000 & 2004 sit at Abilene, KS on May 22, 1982. This is probably power for the Superior (NE) job. In the warmer months local train 1343 went on duty late afternoons or early evenings. This to take advantage of the cooler night time temps. Counterpart local train 1344 usually went back on duty at Superior upon crews’ legal rest.

Thanks for looking back!
Lance Garrels

count-down to norman ah bates

Date: 09/15/20 05:30
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: LocoPilot750

A few years earlier, I was up at Abilene doing Engineer training on some of the branch jobs. Dean Bruce was the engineer I worked with. We used a couple of old Geeps like those two, or CF7's at the time. We went to Superior one trip, and across the U.P. to Salina, and on out to Osborne the next. That job is where I got to hone my skills on 24RL brake valves. Back at Emporia, it was life in a faster lane. Big power, newer equipment, faster trains. Those branch locals had their own way of life that was slower and more laid back, and I'm glad I got to work up there while it was still fun.

Posted from Android

Date: 09/15/20 05:59
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: ironmtn

A classic image. So enjoyable in its simplicity, with the beautiful clear light, the unaffected let's-get-the-job-done lines of the work-worn Geeps, the dramatic Kansas sky. And LocoPilot's story so fits the scene and tells "the rest of the story". As with many things in life, branch line railroading could have that special quality where less truly is more. A lot more.

Thanks to you both for sharing a fine image and story with us.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/20 06:02 by ironmtn.

Date: 09/15/20 06:09
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: skinem

It looks like that 2000 has a solid rail (i.e., no way to get to another unit) on the front. Seems like some used to have a solid bar instead of chains like nowadays that was hinged on one side. Ah, memories...my first exposure to the road was 43 and 44. On duty at 2200 and get to Superior at 1000-1200, in the middle of summer...then no air conditioner at the hotel. Good times!

Date: 09/15/20 06:28
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: santafe199

ironmtn Wrote: > ... branch line railroading could have that special quality ...

As a matter of fact, Abilene was an un-official ground zero for what we all used to call the "Country Club District". Back in the 1970s, carrying into the 1980s the Santa Fe's Middle Division Strong City, Minneapolis & Salina Districts radiated out in 3 directions from Abilene. Actually 4, counting the 40 mile run from Manchester out to Barnard (aka "Barnyard"). Inside the Abilene depot was a huge bulletin board which had a rough diagram of the 3 Districts. And attached all over the board were snapshot photos of just about everybody who lived in & worked regularly in the Abilene ~ Salina area. This photo menagerie included train service guys, M.O.W. guys, a few of the clerical types (operators, etc) and as I recall, even a couple of the officials. Here's a link to a more thorough description:


Good times, indeed!

Date: 09/15/20 08:13
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: gcm

Great shot !
Classic Santa Fe yard image.

Date: 09/15/20 10:03
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: santafe199

Hey gang... it took me a while, but I finally found it. Here's a link to a Gibson Collection trader slide image that will give you a pretty good idea of what the Abilene "Roundhouse" looked like back in ancient diesel history:



Date: 09/15/20 12:36
Re: Toto Tuesday: Abilene Roundhouse
Author: ironmtn

santafe199 Wrote:
> Hey gang... it took me a while, but I finally
> found it. Here's a link to a Gibson Collection
> trader slide image that will give you a pretty
> good idea of what the Abilene "Roundhouse" looked
> like back in ancient diesel history:
> https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11
> ,4074074,4074074#msg-4074074 
> Lance/199 

And another fine image to add to the thread. As was the previous discussion thread that you referenced above concerning the so-called Country Club District. Both threads / links are worth a read and a look, everyone. Classic.

Love the zebra-stripe Geep in the second thread you mentioned showing the "Abilene Roundhouse" (sorry for that, Mr. Humphries...but I do understand). And the tank-(car?)-on-stilts fueling rack left over from steam days. They were the kind of thing a kid would find to be endlessly interesting (as I did). I may have even asked my dad for one on the Lionel layout in the basement. The Missouri Highway Department (back in ancient times before it became MDOT) used to have similar rigs at rural maintenance yards all over the state for material storage. Probably for the heavy oil (probably about the same grade as steam locomotive fuel oil) that would be sprayed on rural farm-to-market roads (with lettered designations in Missouri) which had tarred macadam pavement (or, as we used to call it, "tar and gravel"). Or, in Southern Illinois, to an aunt and uncle there near Mt. Vernon, an "oiled road"

More neat memories of the wonders of branches and secondary lines. Thanks again, Sir L.


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/20 12:45 by ironmtn.

[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.042 seconds