A History of its Industries, Railroads and Inventions



The Back Shop Illustrated
Volumes I, II and III

Even the most ardent fans of railroad history would be hard-pressed to talk at any length about places called Collinwood, Beech Grove, McKees Rocks, Bloomington, Silvis, or even Mount Clare. That is because entire books are often written about railroads without once mentioning what was perhaps the most important infrastructure within the organization—the locomotive terminals and back shops. Unless these facilities were operated effectively and efficiently, the railroad would experience ongoing delays and operating losses. A complete suspension of activities, such as during a prolonged worker strike, caused some railroads to cease operations altogether.

One could easily read 50 books about railroad history and find no mention of back shops at all. Among the most famous were the historic Mount Clare Shops in Baltimore, which are only briefly mentioned in a recent book about the Baltimore and Ohio. Similarly, the mammoth shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York Central, and the Reading are often left out of corporate histories entirely.

This omission is nothing new. Early shareholder reports simply stated that an engine house and repair shop had been constructed at either end of a new route, with few details as to their size, design, or daily capacity. This is despite the fact that these shop buildings represented the largest investment after track construction and locomotive purchases. One of the country’s first and most successful railroads, the Utica and Schenectady, spent over a million dollars on its two terminals in 1836 but shareholder reports made no mention of them other than the costs, concentrating instead on great detail of the track, stations, and rolling stock.

These omissions are understandable given that the vast majority of the public only see the “front facing” part of railroad property, such as passenger stations. Back shops and roundhouses were often isolated inside of a large yard that was inaccessible to the public. Even if the shop buildings were located along city streets or in an open field, curious children and adults alike were banned from the interior. Therefore, although many roundhouses, machine shops, and car repair shops were the largest structures in town, few besides the people who worked there ever saw the inside or knew very much about their function in rail operations.




Pennsylvania Railroad
Altoona, Columbus, and Fort Wayne Shops

New York Central and Hudson River Railroad
West Albany, Harmon, Depew, and Avis Shops

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
Readville, New Haven, and Cedar Hill Shops

Philadelphia and Reading Railroad
Reading Shops

New York and Erie Railroad
Susquehanna, Hornell, and Meadville Shops

Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad
Dubois, Rikers, and East Salamanca Shops

Central Railroad of New Jersey Railroad
Elizabethport and Communipaw Shops

Boston and Maine Railroad
Concord and Billerica Shops

Delaware and Hudson Company
Carbondale, Green Island, Colonie, and Oneonta Shops

Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
Scranton, Keyser Valley, and Kingsland Shops

Lehigh Valley Railroad
South Easton, Delano, Packerton, and Sayre Shops

Boston and Albany Railroad
West Springfield Shops

Maine Central Railroad
Waterville Shops

Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
McKees Rocks Shops



Chicago and Alton Railroad
Bloomington Shops

Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad
Danville (Oaklawn) and Chicago Shops

Chicago and North Western Transportation Company
Chicago, Clinton, Winona, and Proviso Shops

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Aurora, Galesburg, Hannibal, West Burlington, and Havelock Shops

Chicago Great Western Railway
Oelwein Shops

Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway
New Albany and Lafayette Shops

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
Milwaukee, Dubuque, and Minneapolis Shops

Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
Chicago, Horton, Silvis, and Shawnee Shops

Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway
Beech Grove and Bellefontaine Shops

Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway
East Joliet Shops

Grand Trunk Western Railway
Battle Creek and Port Huron Shops

Illinois Central Railroad
Chicago (Burnside), Paducah, Water Valley, and McComb Shops

Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway
Elkhart, Collinwood, and Ashtabula Shops

Michigan Central Railroad
Detroit, Michigan City, Niles, and Jackson Shops

Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
Minneapolis and North Fond du Lac Shops

New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad
Conneaut and Stony Island Shops

Pere Marquette Railway
Saginaw and Grand Rapids Shops

St. Louis—San Francisco Railway
Springfield and Kansas City Shops

Wabash Railroad
Moberly and East Decatur Shops




Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Florence, South Rocky Mount, and Waycross Shops

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore (Mount Clare), Cumberland, Washington, and Glenwood Shops

Central of Georgia Railway
Savannah and Macon Shops

Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Richmond, Huntington, Clifton Forge, and Covington Shops

Louisville and Nashville Railroad
South Louisville, Decatur, Howell, and Nashville Shops

Norfolk and Western Railway
Roanoke and Portsmouth Shops

Seaboard Air Line Railroad
Portsmouth and Jacksonville Shops

Southern Railroad Railway
Knoxville, Atlanta, Spencer, Birmingham, and Princeton Shops


Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Topeka, Cleburne, San Bernardino, and Albuquerque Shops

Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
Denver (Burnham) and Salt Lake City Shops

Great Northern Railway
St. Paul, St. Cloud, and Spokane (Hillyard) Shops

Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
Parsons, Sedalia, Denison and Waco Shops

Missouri Pacific Railroad
Sedalia and North Little Rock (Baring Cross) Shops

Northern Pacific Railway
Brainerd, South Tacoma, and St. Paul Shops

Southern Pacific Railroad
Sacramento, Houston, and Los Angeles Shops

Union Pacific Railroad
Omaha, North Platte, Pocatello, and Cheyenne Shops