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A railway turntable is a device for turning railroad rolling stock, usually locomotives, so that they are head back in the direction from which they came.
Built in 1919 with a 90-foot length, the turntable was put in service on the Pere Marquette Railway at the New Buffalo yard.
The turntable serviced a 16-stall roundhouse and continued operations until 1984 when the Chessie System, the successor to the Pere Marquette, ceased operations in New Buffalo.
In 2000, it was purchased from the Chessie System, disassembled and moved to the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. The bridge was restored and extended by 10 feet making it easier to accommodate the 2-8-4 Berkshire type locomotive No. 1225 in their collection and other large steam locomotives and pieces of rolling stock.
Today, the relocated turntable functions much as it did during the steam era. the Steam Railroading Institute uses it to turn steam locomotives, provide service to the equipment barn, and for demonstrative purposes for visitors. Locomotive No. 1225 used this turntable during its service years on the Pere Marquette, despite its short length.
For information about the Steam Railroading Institute, visit their website at MichiganSteamTrain.com
Photo: This is a rare photo of a steam locomotive and coal tender on the turntable bridge. The Pere Marquette Railway purshased two of these “Santa Fe” type locomotives from the Hocking Valley Railway in 1930. The locomotives were designated as Class SF and carried road numbers 1198 and 1199. They had 64″ diameter drivers, 29″ x 32″ cylinders, a 210 psi boiler pressure and they exerted 77,059 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 398,000 pounds. Number 1198, pictured later became C&O No. 2960 and was scrapped in 1949.