National Civil Engineering Landmark. The re-construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Roundhouse and Shop Complex commenced soon after the end of the American Civil War in 1865. This complex included two roundhouses and two significant shop buildings. The centerpiece of the railroad complex was the West Roundhouse, which can be seen in the immediate foreground. Roundhouse construction started in 1965 and was completed in 1966. The shop buildings, Bridge and Machine Shop and Frog and Switch Shop, were completed in 1967 and the East Roundhouse was completed in 1872. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad needed to re-build quickly to keep up with the competition. The post-war western expansion of the United States was underway, and the reconstruction and growth of the railroads were a key factor in making it possible.
The shop buildings were designed by architects John Niernsee and James Nielson, and the two roundhouses were based on designs developed by Albert Fink, a noteworthy figure in the evolution of civil engineering in the United States. Fink, a German born and educated engineer working with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, collaborated with Benjamin H. Latrobe, Jr. and developed designs in the early 1950's using cast iron framing components to support the walls and magnificent roof structures for roundhouses at Grafton and Piedmont, West Virginia. The Fink designs were adapted for the Martinsburg roundhouse, which is the only surviving structure using this creative design.
Albert Fink went on to become not only a significant designer of railroad bridges and structures, but also a respected railway economist who helped establish a regulatory framework for American railroads that helped restore their financial health in the late 1800's. As further recognition of his stature as an engineer, in 1880 he served as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
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