Historic Markers Across Georgia

Boyles Yard Turntable named Summerville Railroad Turntable

Marker ID:  
Location: located in J. R. "Dick" Dowdy Park on University St at E. Washington St, Summerville, GA.
County: Chattooga
Coordinates: N 34° 28.729    W 085° 20.780
  34.47881666    -85.34633333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMC8TN
Boyles Yard Turntable named Summerville Railroad Turntable Marker  


Restored to its current site in 2003, prehistoric Summerville Railroad turntable was made during the era when railroads served as the primary means of long-distance commerce and travel. From the days of railroad yards and round houses, the turntable was used to rotate locomotives and place them in the desired direction while using a lesser amount of land that otherwise needed to maneuver such a turn. This massive 90 ton steel structure was built in 1916 in Cambridge, Pennsylvania by the American Bridge and iron Company, which later became part of US steel. Measuring 100 feet in length, the turntable was constructed of two I-beams and connected by support beams which were riveted together to form its fish belly design.

For many years, this turntable served in the Boyles Yard in Birmingham as part of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. There it was surrounded by the largest round hounds on the L&N system having 36 stalls. During the height of the railroad era, the turntable was used to direct the steam locomotives of such famous L&N passenger trains as the Pan-American, the Azalean and Florida Arrow as well as the Silver Bullet fast freight train and numerous other regional and local freight and passenger trains. The turntable continued to operate at the Boyles Yard after L&N and was merged into CSX railroad. It was retired from the Boyles shard in the late 1900's.

As a donation from the CSX railroad, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum acquired the historic turntable and saved it from being turned into scrap metal. The massive load was moved from Birmingham to Lafayette, Georgia by large trunk and then placed on a railroad car and transported over the rails to J. R. "Dick" Dowdy Park in downtown Somerville. Appraise is a railroad artifact at $1,250,000, the turntable was used by Somerville as a matching fund for two grants from the Georgia Department of Transportation. The installation of this railroad antique restored one of a very few operational turntables in the United States.

Extensive engineering and support were required for the foundation of the complicated structure which holds the turntable and includes a large circular concrete pit, drainage system, peripheral track and electric motors. Steel pilings were driven eighty feet into the earth to support the weight of this massive structure as well as the weight of the diesel or steam locomotive it must turn which weigh approximately 150 tons.

Since its dedication and renaming in May 2003, the Summerville Railroad turntable has provided growth in local civic pride in growth and tourism. It has been used to turn steam locomotives on excursions from the Tennessee Valley Railroad, diesel locomotives on local passenger excursions, and railcars on excursions by the North American Railcar Operators Association.

For further information on the steam locomotive excursions from Chattanooga to Somerville is located on the website www.tvrails.com. Information on local diesel excursions may be found at www.summervillega.org and information on railcar excursions at www.narcoa.org.

The Summerville Railroad Turntable has provided both pleasure and income to the present generation and shows great promise for a source of poor as some in civic pride for future generations. The restoration of this valuable railroad antique has contributed to the establishment of Somerville as a historic railroad town.

Boyles Yard Turntable
Boyles Yard Turntable named Summerville Railroad Turntable