I went to Savannah, GA, this week and had a chance to visit the State of Georgia train museum. While the trains were cool I was more interested in how they kept them running.
The first feature was the working turntable and roundhouse.
More than just a way to store trains, steam engines work better going forward, so they were used to turn the engine around. Steam engines also needed a lot of service and maintenance that would be performed in the various stalls at the roundhouse.
The turntable itself was first turned by human power, and, according to the guide, so well engineered and balanced that a small child could turn it when it didn't have a locomotive on it. They upgraded to steam power, then electric.
The machine age shop had a steam engine that turned a shaft that ran through the shop up high. The shaft turned belts that connected to a large assortment of industrial sized powered tools, with various sizes pulleys for different gearing and speeds.
Should mention that the boiler room and steam engine were in a separate building, two reasons, one, in the summer, in Georgia, a steam engine would make a building very hot, second, a boiler under pressure can blow up spectacularly.
There was also a blacksmith's shop and a big dining room in the shop, keeping the maintenance shop going was very labor intensive.
The shop was fascinating, but my favorite part of the tour was the old passenger car they had open. I made a few passenger train trips in pre-amtrak days. Even though the trains and train stations were getting a a bit shabby by then, the sights, sounds and smells (diesel, I am not that old) on the trains and in the stations fascinated a kid who loved mechanical things. Going in to the old passenger car stirred up very fuzzy and pleasant memories of riding a train for the first time.
Fun fact, the toilets dumped straight into the track, you weren't supposed to use the toilet within 15 minutes or so of getting to the station as you would stink up the city and the station
The little guy below was inoperative, a yard engine, it was in use from when it was built in the 1800s until it was retired in the 1950s. I believe the guide said it weighed 44 tons.
They did have an operating steam loco, said the temperature would average 130F and above on a hot day as you worked shoveling coal onto the fire grate. Stay hydrated train workers!