Rivers / Daly HeritageInterpretive Signs
Sign #3:  The Roundhouse

In “The Story of Rivers” we learn that in 1908, “Now completed, or in various stages of construction, were the mile-long trestle bridge spanning the Little Saskatchewan valley, a two-story depot with its Company offices, the roundhouse and shops, the terminal yards. And nearby - a mushrooming settlement.”
As a divisional point of the new Grand Trunk Pacific, the town of Rivers underwent a considerable building boom as the Railway began the construction of buildings to service and store the many locomotives that would be passing through. By 1909 up to 300 people were employed in railway operations.


Image 1:  The first roundhouse, under construction.
Photo courtesy the Archives of Manitoba.


Image 2: Motive-power required constant care and attention, to be kept ready for duties on "the road." Above, an engine prepares to move off the turntable.”

The most important structure was the Roundhouse.  Roundhouses or Engine Houses are large, circular or semicircular structures that were traditionally located surrounding or adjacent to turntables. 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.
Early steam locomotives normally travelled forwards only; although reverse operations capabilities were soon built into locomotive mechanisms, the controls were normally optimized for forward travel, and the locomotives often could not operate as well in reverse. A turntable allowed a locomotive or other rolling stock to be turned around for the return journey.

In 1918 the roundhouse and machine shop were rebuilt and updated. Fire damaged the newly completed structure but the building was saved. A tornado destroyed one end of the building in August 1935 and a storm buckled part of the roof in July of 1940. But it remained a vital part of the railroad operation until the 1950’s when diesel locomotives were introduced. These new engines required much less local maintenance.

In 1918 the roundhouse and machine shop were rebuilt.


The final days