William E. Simonton, III



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 Last Updated: November 29, 2010



The Hinton roundhouse in the 1940s reflected the many changes on the railroad since the C & O first picked Hinton to be its division point between the New River and Alleghany Subdivisions. The first roundhouse at Hinton was apparently built in the 1870s. Only one photograph of it is know to be extant.[1] It was located toward and backed up to the New River at the foot of 7th Street.[2] No plans have yet been found in C&O documents in the C&OHS Archives. Two different roof truss plans (one of wood and one of iron) have turned up among available drawings, the wood truss arrangement matches photographs of the second roundhouse built circa 1900-1905. The iron truss could possibly have been used on the original roundhouse and re-used on the second. A early fire prevention map of Hinton which were typically prepared by the fire insurance companies (not the railroad) indicates iron trusses over a portion of the second roundhouse in the area of stalls 12 through 17.


The second roundhouse at Hinton also reflects the many changes which took place on the C&O from the turn of the century until 1980 when the last six stalls were razed. The roundhouse was built at the turn of the century to replace the earlier 1870s roundhouse. The probable reason for the new roundhouse was to clear space for enlarging the west yard. Based upon notes on drawings of the proposed end walls dated 1903, the round house was built in stages and originally had temporary wood end walls. However long it took to build, all 17 stalls were apparently complete by 1903-05.[3] The "as built" appearance differed only slightly from the planned improvements reflected in the company drawings.[4] The proposed glass in round gable windows was replaced with louvers which remained until the end, and the double door in the east end wall was moved toward the rear wall (R.R. East) from the middle of one panel. The original turntable, 75 feet long, was replaced approximately 1916 with a 100' turntable which in turn was replaced approximately 1924 with a 115' Bethlehem twin span turntable. The original doors of the roundhouse were 80' from the center of the turntable and the leads were spaced 10 apart.


In addition to the roundhouse, a new machine shop and oil house were built. The machine shop was attached to the roundhouse at the end of stall Nos. 1 and 2. Shortly after the machine shop was built a shed addition was added to its rear and the end of stall No. 3. The boilers for steam were initially outside to the rear of the machine shop. Before 1916 two separate additions had been built and the shop boilers occupied the machine shop addition to the rear of stalls 2 and 3.

Courtsey Streve Trail   Courtsey Steve Trail
Original Roundhouse End Wall circa 1905   Roundhouse during reconstruction to Monitor Roof circa 1910  


Sometime after 1905 and before 1916 the original pitched roof was replaced with a monitor roof which was cantilevered ten feet beyond the roundhouse doors toward the turntable.[5] The unbalanced appearance of the end walls is the most prominent feature of the Hinton roundhouse. Outlines of the trusses which supported the monitor roof are shown on several company drawings. CSPR photographs Nos. 211 and 212 show trusses which only partly correspond with the drawings at least so far as construction is concerned. Whatever the actual dimensions, the monitor roof should have significantly improved the atmosphere for the roundhouse laborers by drawing the smoke which did not exhaust from the small smoke jacks out of the round house more efficiently than the original small cupolas placed above every even numbered roundhouse stall.[6]


The west wall of the roundhouse also reveals other changes which took place over time. As built, the windows were placed in the center of each of the three end wall panels. At some point in time the panel toward the turntable may have suffered a collision, as the wall was rebuilt back to the window and the window replaced with a smaller window. The modification is quite visible in a photograph I took in 1976. At some point the bottom half of the rear panel window was bricked up. The brick color is close to the color of the 1916 addition and may have taken place about that time.


Beginning in 1916 the first of several additions to extend the roundhouse leads were made. Each addition was a direct result of the increasing size of the new motive power used on the Alleghany Subdivision. The 1916 expansion would have been the result of the increasing number of H-2, H-3, and H-4 2-6-6-2 Mallets which the C&O beginning in 1910 was using on the grades of the New River and Alleghany subdivisions. The mallet engine house was originally built in late 1911 or early 1912 to provide maintenance for the mallets, but by 1916 the number of mallets had increased so much that the two tracks in the mallet house could not have provided the necessary space to do all the maintenance which would have been required. The first extension of the roundhouse extended Stall Nos. 12 through 17. A two-level shed roof was added to the rear. The end walls were partly of brick and partly wood siding and the rear walls were brick. The extension was done by knocking out the rear walls, and leaving the original brick pilasters as columns to support the monitor roof trusses. The bases of those brick pilasters are still visible projecting to the top of the roundhouse floor. Those brick columns were replaced in 1930 with wood columns.[7]


In 1920 a new power house was also built. The power house stood until 1980 when it was razed with the last six stalls of the roundhouse. The air brake shop built in 1921 was a 32 foot by 29 foot brick addition to the east rear of the machine shop. It was retired with the machine shop in 1961 and sold to a private contractor to demolish.[8]


In 1930 after the arrival of all the H-7 and H-7a 2-8-8-2s stall Nos. 5 through 11 were also extended with the same type of two level shed roof which was used in 1916. The decision was probably a result of the increasing tonnage which the C&O was carrying in the 1920s and expected to be carrying into the 1930s. Each of these additions extended the stall track length by approximately 48 feet. Stalls numbered 1 through 4 were not extended at the rear. In 1941 8" was added to the roundhouse doors to increase the clear height of the entries from 16' 6" feet to 17' 2" (C&O Dwg 14549-A). This was done by the simple expedient of adding 8" to the tops of the existing doors, removing the brick work above the doors, and replacing it with wood beaded siding.


In 1942 roundhouse stalls numbered 14 through 17 were extended again with a addition to permit maintenance on the newly arriving H-8 2-6-6-6s with their 125 foot overall length. It was this addition which gave the roundhouse its characteristic roof line which remained until the end and the new roundhouse office beside and at the end of stall 17 which replaced a free standing office. Stalls 14 through 17 also received RO-WAY overhead garage type doors as a part of the rebuilding. The plans of the 1942 modification indicate that the west wall was 13 inches thick, but a note on the 1903 drawing of proposed eastern end wall indicates that both walls were to be 17" thick. Based on a photograph the west wall was only 13" thick -- 17" with the outside pilasters. In 1943 tail tracks were also added to the turntable to deal with H-8s over running the end of the turntable.[9] At this time a welding shop was also added at the rear of stall No. 15.


Between 1930 and 1946 a small shed roof was added to the overhanging roof to stalls 1 through 13 and the doors moved approximately 10' toward the turntable pit.[10] The shed roof was not added to or was removed on stalls 14 through 17 which used the garage type overhead doors after the 1942 roundhouse addition.[11] I have anecdotal evidence that the shed was added in the 1930's, however, C & O drawing #14549-A which reflects the work done to increase the door height 8" indicates the doors were still hung on the original cast iron posts in 1941.


In 1946 a brick firewall was erected between stall Nos. 11 and 12.[12] This brick firewall replaced a wooden partition which had been erected in 1921 to help the poor ventilation caused what was then an asymmetrical roof.[13] It projected approximately 3' above the roof and is a prominent feature of photographs of the roundhouse taken between 1965 and 1980 after stall Nos. 2 through 11 were razed. Only one automatically closing sliding door penetrated the wall at the rear.


Also in 1946 a ladies toilet was added to the roundhouse office and one of the windows of the 1916 addition filled with concrete block when the toilet was added to the roundhouse office. In 1950 the last addition to the roundhouse was made when a wheel lathe shop was added at the end of stall number 14.


At the end the roundhouse was an amalgam of bits and pieces from each of its incarnations. Except for the drastic change in appearance brought about by the change to a monitor roof between 1905 and 1916, stalls 1 through 4 changed little over their life. A concrete floor was added and openings in the rear walls were opened up and bricked over, but the essence of the 1903 roundhouse remained until stall No. 1 was retired in 1959 and razed.


If a roundhouse large enough to service H-1 through H-6 mallets is needed the 1916 to 1930 roundhouse or a portion of it will provide a modeler with an interesting prototype. With the stalls extended by the simple expedient of knocking out the rear walls and extending the tracks with the parts of the wall remaining to support the old roof, one could build the model with the walls knocked out, the tracks, floor, and pits extended, and the new rear walls and roof just under construction-- a model scene which, it can be argued, is supported by available documentary and physical evidence.


In 1958-59 the east end wall of the roundhouse and stall number 1 were retired and razed to permit for the first time the Hill Track (outbound east) to line up with Number 1 track (outbound west). What type of construction, if any, was used to create a new end wall next to stall No. 2 is not known. A drawing of a proposed wall of concrete block has turned up, but it unknown if the wall was built before stalls 2 through 11 were razed in 1965.


In 1965 stalls Nos. 2 through 11 were razed to the firewall which had been erected between stall Nos. 11 and 12, and in 1980 the last six stalls of the roundhouse were razed along with the power house. The turntable remained until about 1988, at which time the it was removed and the pit filled. The only remaining sign of the roundhouse is the expanse of concrete floor and back-filled inspection pits which give only a hint of what used to be.


Authors Note: The foregoing is still very much a work in progress, and will be revised as new and/or additional information becomes available. It does represent my best compilation of the information available to me as of the writing.


            The four jpg files hyperlinked here as Eudaly1, Eudaly2, EuDaly3, and EuDaly4 show a model of the Hinton Roundhouse built by James EuDaly on his O Scale layout from author's plans and notes.



Copyright 2004 - 2007


William E. Simonton, III

[1]         COHS Photograph

[2] Plan Drawing of Hinton from 1886.


[3] Photograph of C & O Shay Number 7 which the C & O acquired in 1905 crowded with workers in front of the east end wall of the roundhouse. C & O Shay No. 7 arrived on the property in 1905.  Photo courtesy Steve Trail.

[4] C & O Drawing No. XXXX


[5] Author has photograph of new roof under construction courtesy of Steve Trail.

[6] Early photograph of roundhouse courtesy of Steve Trail.


[7] C & O Drawing No. XXXX

[8] Note on Evaluation Map.

[9] Blueprint drawing and letter found in A.F.E. file from 1943.  See attached PDF file.

[10] The C & O drawings of 1941 show the doors on the original cast iron columns, but the firewall drawings of 1946 show the doors moved 10' toward the turntable pit and swinging in.

[11] Photograph in Railroad Modeler, Volume 7, No. 12, December 1991


[12]     C & O Drawing No. XXXX


[13] C & O Drawing No. X-2708