© Photographed May 4, 2018
Mazomanie, Dane County, Wisconsin
The railroad yards included a turntable on which locomotives and their tenders could be either turned around or directed into an adjacent engine house. The turntable was built of wooden beams and planks resting on a lubricated shaft. Vertical trusses supported the edges. Once on the turntable, an engine and tender were turned by hand. Wooden bars, attached to the outer edge, improved the leverage so that only a few men were required to rotate the structure.
The first turntable, built in 1856, was located about halfway between Brodhead and Cramer Streets. It was replaced in 1875 and again in 1909, the second time with one previously used in Saginaw, Michigan. In 1933 another turntable of stronger construction was built to accommodate the newer, larger locomotives. When a wye was built on the Sauk Branch line in 1942, the turntable became obsolete and was removed.
The Engine House
An engine house, where minor repairs could be made on locomotives, was built in the Mazomanie railroad yards in 1856. Its location just east of the turntable allowed placing a locomotive and its tender in either direction inside the house. In 1882 a larger structure was built on the same site for housing or servicing two locomotives at one time.
Between 1856 and 1874 Mazomanie was the home of a construction and repair train. On call at all times, a crew could be rushed to the aid of a derailed train or to repair a washed-out bridge. Runs were frequently made as far east as Madison and as far west as Prairie du Chien. The engine house was used until 1939 when it was removed for use as a cattle shed.
The Water Tower
Wood and coal burning locomotives needed to make frequent fuel and watering stops. Mazomanie had an abundant supply of water affored by the millpond. In 1856 the railroad built a water tower to service its steam locomotives. This facility at Mazomanie was the railroad's only source of water between Lone Rock, twenty-two miles to the west, and Madison, twenty-five miles to the east.
A flume from the lower millpond brought the water to an undershot waterwheel which raised the water into the water tower tank. When the water level in the millpond fell, making the wheel inoperative, a steam- powered water ram, located in an adjacent pump house, was used to fill the tank. When both systems failed, the local fire department was recruited to fill the locomotive tenders with water from their hand pumpers.
The first water tower was replaced in 1907 with a tank twenty-four feet in diameter. The tower was permanently removed in 1950 when the dam on Black Earth Creek was washed out as the result of a storm. Water from the village main was then used to fill the tenders until diesel engines replaced the steam locomotives in 1954.
The marker kiosk is located at the city park (a reclaimed former railroad yard), and is accessible from southbound Crescent Street, between Broadhead Street (to the north) and Cramer Street (to the south), behind the Mazomanie Electric Water city offices located at 133 Crescent Street, Mazomanie, Wisconsin 53560.
NOTE: The park and marker are not visible from Crescent Street.
These are also at this location:
- Crescent Street Factories, Mazomanie Blacksmiths, Coal Buildings
- Freight and Coal Buildings 1915-1929
[Photo captions from top to bottom]
Engine on turntable - about 1890
The construction train engine - 1878
The water tower - 1909
The nearby depot building . . .