This is one of my favorite Jack Delano photographs. I posted it over two years ago during a discussion about wooden floors sometimes seen in roundhouses, and thought I’d re-post the scene in this series of Mr. Delano’s images.
We’re at the Chicago and North Western’s yard in Chicago, and it’s December of 1942. The roundhouse could be a rather chilly environment, and these workers helped combat the situation by burning coal in open steel “drums” to provide a bit of warmth. I suspect that these heaters were fabricated right there in-house, and I’m sure that they are contributing to the haze inside. Also note the tool carts and acetylene bottle. One can barely discern the silhouette of a worker in the distance just above the pilot of the steamer at center (click on the photo to see a much larger view).
If you look carefully you’ll notice the wooden block floor in this roundhouse. Such floors were fairly common in industrial facilities many years ago. They provided a surface that was resilient and “kind” to the heavy, metal components that would be placed (or dropped) on them. Click on the link above if you’d like to read the post on the topic.