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Title Steam Engines at Auburn Roundhouse
Object Name Print, Photographic
Date 1946
Photographer Farrow, Albert E.
Description Black and white photographic print of three locomotives awaiting service or assignment inside the Roundhouse on May 18, 1946 in Auburn, Washington. The engine numbers can plainly be seen on the headlights: 1369, 1363, and 1732. There is a fourth locomotive on the far side of the others, but due to the curvature of the roundhouse, only the wooden pilot, or "cowcatcher," can be seen. The building appears to be primarily constructed of brick, with a cement floor, and electric lights hanging from the ceiling. Midday sunlight streams through the southwest-facing windows on the right side of the building. Part of the pit is visible in front of three of the locomotives. The pit is a depression between rails enabling workers to stand underneath locomotives.

This photo was taken on the same day as PO-0096, which is of the same subjects but taken from the opposite point of view, while the photographer stood on the other side of the trains.

Northern Pacific Railway Engine 1369 was one of forty S-4 class ten-wheelers that Northern Pacific received beginning in May 1902 from Baldwin as Vauclain compounds, numbered 1350 to 1389. Intended for passenger service on the mountainous west end of the line, these were the last 4-6-0 locomotives built for the NP, with the exception of ten S-10 class delivered in 1907, part of an undelivered order for another railroad.

Northern Pacific Railway Engine 1732 was a Class W-3.

A roundhouse is a building used by railroads for storing and servicing locomotives. Roundhouses are large, circular or semicircular structures that were traditionally located surrounding or adjacent to turntables. Early steam locomotives normally travelled forwards only and so needed to be turned manually. The defining feature of the traditional roundhouse was the turntable, which facilitates access when the building is used for repair facilities or for storage of steam locomotives.

Located at the center of the Northern Pacific's north-south main line between Seattle and Tacoma, Auburn in 1910 was little more than a small farming community. When the NPRy began construction in the 1910s, Auburn's population was a mere 957, by the time the yard was done Auburn's population had more than doubled to 1,928. Auburn would become NPRy's western freight headquarters, however, most of the acres were still in pasture and orchard when George A. Kenrick, the company's project engineer arrived from St. Paul in June 1911. The yard he had to build needed its own water works, power plant, fire department and police. Tracks would have to be laid everywhere: yard tracks, RIP tracks, approach tracks, lead tracks, caboose tracks, as well as tracks to the major and minor facilities around the yard. Structures to be built included a twenty-five-stall roundhouse, a machine shop and office, sanding, water and oil facilities, power house, store house, ice house, and freight transfer shed, bunk houses for the yard's section crew, massive coal dock and a passenger transfer depot at East Auburn. Other buildings required moving. The First Street depot would become the yard office; the passenger station would be refurbished and pulled just a few blocks south to Main Street. From the small depot at East Auburn to its southern limit Auburn Yard would stretch three full miles and cost upwards of $750,000.
Collection Farrow Collection
Credit Line White River Valley Museum Collection, Gift of Albert E. Farrow.
Catalog Number PO-00095
Copyright This image is available for viewing for educational and fair use purposes only. The White River Valley Museum will not provide reproductions of this image or a license to reproduce this image. To order a reproduction or inquire about permissions, please contact the Martin E. Hanson Collection.
Please contact the Curator of Collections at the White River Valley Museum if you have additional information or questions regarding the images found on this web site.