Norfolk Roundhouse

by kfrego

Our family moved from the farm to a rented house in Norfolk during 1953. My dad continued working in the aluminum plants at Massena. The steady work provided better income than the small farm and the rotating shifts allowed ample time to pursue hunting, fishing, and other activities. The house was a single family row house in an area of 6 to 8 houses lined up on one side of the street. The street came to a dead end several hundred feet from our house. Across the road was a railroad track which ended at the entrance to a large industrial looking building at the end of the street. This building was a roundhouse used to repair and maintain the locomotives of the Norwood & St. Lawrence Railroad. (No, my memory isn’t that good. Google knew what railroad it was.)

Can you imagine what a change this was for children who had always lived on a rural farm? The huge locomotives came and went all times of the day and night. They moved slow on the spur to the roundhouse, but the huff & puff, squeeling, and clunking of these steam locomotives at close range was very thrilling. We would always run to the edge of the road to give the engineers and fireman a wave as they passed our house. We would watch from a distance as the engines entered the roundhouse, stopped on the turntable, got rotated into position, and drove into the roundhouse repair bays. It always fascinated us to see a huge steam engine rotating with the turntable.

Little did we realize how close to extinction these huge engines were. Trucks were becoming faster and more efficient at delivering cargo. The roads and highways were getting massive improvements nationwide. The new diesel powered locomotives were becoming an industry standard. How rewarding it is to know these steam engines were once an adventure in my life.

We adapted to living in town near the noisy steam locomotives……but the farm has always remained in our hearts.