Rocklin Roundhouse Site

Rocklin History Tour – Stop 7. 

Rocklin’s roundhouse was at the intersection of Front Street and Rocklin Road east of today’s Crossroads Church. A plaque near these remnants of the west-facing roundhouse wall marks the spot.

The Central Pacific Railroad built the roundhouse in 1867 to service extra engines that trains needed surmount the Sierra. They chose Rocklin as the site because it is close to the point where the rail bed steepens as it heads toward Auburn. Also Rocklin’s was close to large stands of oak and pine. An engine could consume 16 cords of firewood on its strain to the Sierra summit.

The roundhouse included 28 engine stalls, a turntable, and an 8,000 square foot woodshed.

In 1906 the railroad intended to expand their Rocklin facilities but decided that there was insufficient room. They gradually opened roundhouse operations in Roseville and closed the Rocklin facility in April 1908.

By 1912 Rocklin’s abandoned roundhouse had become a dangerous eyesore and Rocklin’s City Council required the railroad to demolish it.

In its heyday, just prior to its operations moving to Roseville, Rocklin’s roundhouse employed 300 people with a monthly payroll of $25-30,000.

A report from the time asserts that, from 1906 through 1908, while the roundhouse was closing, Rocklin’s population declined by 80%. This could be an exaggeration since this was also a time when Rocklin’s granite quarries were busy providing curbstone and granite blocks to rebuild San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

To learn more about the History of Rocklin, visit www.rocklinhistory.org.

  • Gary Day