Railroad Photographic History Museum
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Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper Collection.

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A Runaway Turn-Table.

(The above turntable is hand operated, but here is a story about
a steam operated railroad turntable incident published in Railroad Gazette, 28 July 1882.)

A singular occurrence took place recently at the Pittsburg round-house, on the Pennsylvania Railroad. A laborer was engaged in whitewashing the pit, when it became necessary to have the turn-table moved. Although there is an engineer in charge of the little engine which runs the table, the laborer thought to save time and trouble by starting it himself. He turned on the steam and the table started around, but when he attempted to stop he made a mistake and turned on all the steam in the boiler. The table went faster and faster until it made about 40 revolutions a minute, the whitewasher vainly attempting to stop it. Workmen stood on the edge of the pit and tried to shout to the laborer to turn the little wheel in the other direction, but for a time the experimenter failed to catch the idea. In the meantime an old man who had been upon the table when it started had thrown himself down and was holding on to the railroad track for dear life, thinking every minute that he would be hurled off and ground up. Fortunately nothing like that occurred. The whitewasher finally got the right idea. He began to reverse the wheel and soon the table was brought to standstill with no casualities whatever.
Courtesy Wendell Huffman, from the R&LHS Newsgroup.