Exploring Alabama's Abandoned Roundhouse

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DeBandi, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
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    3,172
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    As I'm riding around in an older part of Birmingham, I notice something different and turn around to take a closer look.













    This is an old yard tower -- a railroad yard tower.



    [​IMG]



    I'm in the middle of a old neighborhood. This in not making much sense. :scratch












    Looks like some explorin' is in order!
    :nod
    #1
  2. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

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    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    As I start to backtrack and circle around the block a few times to investigate the neighborhood, I notice some construction going on.












    [​IMG]




    Any time I see construction around old historic structures, it's usually never good.









    They have a couple of dump trucks set up as a barricade to keep people out.

    [​IMG]













    I manage to just sneak through the 12-wheeled blockade. :rayof:wings:rayof




    [​IMG]






    Let's go look around to see if anything interesting still exists.
    #2
  3. GA. DUALSPORT WANTAB

    GA. DUALSPORT WANTAB Long timer

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    :lurk Do your thing Dave. :thumb
    #3
  4. dirtytrixx400

    dirtytrixx400 Adventurer

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    b'ham,al.
    :1drink :lurk
    #4
  5. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    As I ride through all the construction, I quickly begin to realize what is going on.









    I smell fresh, moist dirt.





    I see railroad spikes all over and a trailer full of old, used railroad ties.






    I smell coal and oil and the soil is mostly dark black.










    Looks like this is part of what they have removed.


    [​IMG]


    This was a major rail facility built in 1915.














    Let's see...



    A yard tower and a huge rail yard.

    My gut instinct tells me to keep looking around.
    :patch
    #5
  6. kdscoates

    kdscoates Long timer

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    dave the 950 looks great!! are those the sm mirrors??? and did the help??
    #6
  7. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

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    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    As I make my way across the construction, the surrounding area turns to overgrown weeds and I see what looks to be a typical abandoned industrial building.








    As I approach the structure I notice that the building is NOT your typical old building.























    Now this is not something you run across every day.






    [​IMG]






    I've stumbled into an abandoned, 94-year-old roundhouse. :eek1




    [​IMG]




    More details on this fascinating structure laterÂ…
    #7
  8. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

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    The natural light in this building is just amazing.


    [​IMG]


    Perhaps this was used as a warehouse at one time.



    [​IMG]

    The lower windows have been covered with brick. However, it's in fantastic shape for being 94 years old.




    This was part of a very large rail operation that was commissioned in 1915.







    This is part of the original layout diagram.


    [​IMG]


    It's clearly visible from above.


    [​IMG]





    More later... :nod
    #8
  9. Al Goodwin

    Al Goodwin Long timer

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    Great report Dave.....


    :freaky
    #9
  10. captodport

    captodport Adventurer

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    Thought I would chime in to let you know how amazing I think your reports are. Very interesting to read. HOW DO YOU FIND SUCH STUFF?
    #10
  11. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

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    This fine example of southern industrialization was built by the Southern Railroad to keep up with the rapid growth of Birmingham in the early 1900s.







    The Birmingham area was growing at a record pace because the county was consuming all the iron as fast as the local mills could produce it. Southern Railway needed a facility that could handle all the required rail and freight needs.








    It included:

    25 stalls
    25 engine pits
    1 truck wheel pit
    1 driving wheel drop pit













    58% of the building was originally glass.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]








    This was one of the most modern rail facilities of the era.


    [​IMG]



    Southern Railway invested some $660,000 in the Finley Yard and shop complex.







    Can you imagine 25 of these engines in the shop for repairs all at the same time?

    [​IMG]

    This was the first engine on "the hump" at the yard that is now all but a memory of the past.






    I'm glad I found this southern industrial treasure before it is lost forever.

    [​IMG]








    Thanks for taking the time to Explore Alabama with me. :thumb



    #11
  12. Madhouse

    Madhouse Semi-Goodlookin!

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    Really like your story telling style Debandi. Thanks for taking the time to express it for us to read.
    #12
  13. jtb

    jtb Long timer

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    Don't know how you did those overlay thingy's... but the whole thing was awesome!:clap

    Thanks for that!
    #13
  14. DualSPRTfan

    DualSPRTfan Been here awhile

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    amazing find, I love how so many of the riders on here, love their history! Trains, history and bikes, adventure... love it.

    I went over to google maps while reading your post to find the image for myself. And I found it, not hard at all. Great find !! :clap I love this stuff. It's really sad too, that so much of this gets demolished for what some people call progress. This building should have a historical plaque put on it, and made into a rail museum or something. Or turn it into a neat themed rail restuarant... if you had the cash of course. Though the nieghborhood it seems to be in, may not support something like that.

    Debandi - could you point out on the map where the old rail yard tower is if possible.

    Thanks!

    :beer
    #14
  15. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

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    DualSPRTfan,

    It is odd. That tower does not show up on the original 1915 yard diagram.
    :scratch




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]





    I wonder if the yard tower may have been moved to this location when the west part of the yard was eliminated?




    [​IMG]

    Just another mystery wrapped in a riddle that time has created for us to solve I suppose.


    [​IMG]

    The red dot in the above photo indicates the current location of the yard tower.



    I really appreciate all the great comments...
    :thumb
    #15
  16. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    you should get a PhD in Alabama history for your ADVrider reports.
    #16
  17. mark1305

    mark1305 Old Enough To Know Better

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    Once again Dave, you have hit a big 'un in historical value. Thanks very much.
    #17
  18. ddavidv

    ddavidv Thrifty not cheap

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    As a railroad history buff, I really enjoy your reporting. I hope you keep finding stuff like this. The shot of your bike inside the roundhouse is wallpaper worthy. :thumb
    #18
  19. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    VERY cool! Thanks.

    Especially finding the old diagrams of the yard.
    #19
  20. DualSPRTfan

    DualSPRTfan Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the pics, that's what I was looking for. Perhaps the location of the tower is not that odd, could they have laid tracks down that would have wrapped around the round house and down the south side of the work shop and across the road. If you look at google maps, you can draw a line pretty mush south on and angle that would hook up with the other main line that runs through the city. Interesting though, like I said, great pics, and love the history.
    #20