(Jackson Street Roundhouse)
- Jackson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue -
The roundhouse dates from 1907. It is the second roundhouse in that area. The first was built in 1882, just to the west of the current structure. It is one of the few remaining working roundhouses in the Twin Cities and offers a rare look at how powerful locomotives were stored and maintained.
As the name indicates, a railroad roundhouse is a circular building. It is used for storage and repair of locomotives. It has a powerful turntable in the center, to move the locomotives from place to place.
The Jackson Street Shops roundhouse was designed to hold up to 25 locomotives. Each locomotive had an assigned space. The roundhouse turntable is 70 feet in diameter.
The roundhouse was used by the Great Northern Railway until 1959 when repair and maintenance of locomotives was moved elsewhere. It was one of the first parts of the greater Jackson Streets Shops area to be decommissioned. While roundhouses were the technical marvel of their day, by the mid-20th century they were deemed obsolete.
In 1985 the roundhouse became part of the Minnesota Transportation Museum, which offers train, steamboat and street car rides at various locations. The roundhouse is open for visitors and offers a number of activities and special events of its own. The turntable has been restored and the museum offers a look at what was a longtime place of employment for area residents.
Not only is it interesting to visit the museum and see the variety of railroad cars and buses preserved on the grounds, a great view of the yard and the historic vehicles is from the east side of the Jackson Street bridge.
The museum, as an organization, marked its 50th anniversary in 2013.