That round table is not very large or heavy duty so I'm guessing it was built just to handle turning the truck around on a siding.
That looks strange. The purpose of a turntable is to turn a locomotive (or truck) so it can roll onto another track. This one doesn't seem to have any other track.
Dennis & Steve - The fairly large building in the background might indicate that this photo was taken at a fairly large railroad headquarters where there might be a RR freightyard, freighthouse, repair shops, maintenance of way facilities, etc. Sometimes, smaller equipment than locomotives (which were turned on a roundhouse turntable) but larger than sectionmens or signal maintainers hand cars or motorcars (commonly called "speeders by non-railroaders) had to be turned one direction or the other, depending on the intended direction of travel. This could of course be accomplished on a "stub track" like the one here, as once the vehicle is heading the right way, it could then be switched and led out of the yard like a locomotive would be. In this case, you can bet that there is a switch somewhere down this stub track to the right which connects to a yard track or lead track to the mainline.
Oops! Forgot to say,.....great picture Jay! Lots of interesting details here,....notice that there is no steering wheel, and probably no steering column. Also, there is an interesting piece of equipment visible between rear of truck and freighthouse. Probably an old piece of freighthandling equipment built with wagon wheels!
Locomotives can be pretty effective in either direction. That ol' TT is not. They needed to turn it around so it would face the direction they intended to go. It's slow enough going forward in high. Imagine going down the tracks for a long distance in a TT in reverse!
Steam locomotives, while they may have a "face" if you will that would denote a front and a rear, are actually bi-directional: they can be equally run forwards or backwards with no ill effects.
Let me add: there are always exceptions to that.
I like this one, was changed to run forward through the snow sheds in the Sierras, No smoke in the cab.
My Grandfather was an oiler on the railroads in Pennsylvania in the '20s and 30's. All his railroad gear...hat, bib overalls, heavy coat and oil cans hung in his basement from the rafters. They hung there as long as I can remember and disappeared when a relative came to visit shortly after he passed away.
Better then holding your foot on the reverse pedal all the way to where you were going!
The photo you posted demands a simple Vulcan logic question: Why weren't all steam engines configured in this manner? Even in the days of wood then coal fuel the tender could have been put ahead of the engine.
How do they stoke that thing? The firebox is still up by the cab.
Also, I wonder how airtight that passenger car is. That must have been miserable going through the snow sheds.
Don't know. My guess no one thought of it until S.P. lost a crew from smoke in the cab and they started using oil to fire the boilers. Possibly pushing the tender would have lead to more derailments of the tender. Just guessing.
oh, oil fired, that answers my question
The Milwaukee railroad electrified through the mountains in early 1920's to get away from the smoke through the tunnels. Several of the railroads ran huge blowers at either end of the tunnels to either pull or push smoke and steam ahead of the engine. There was a crew at each end of the tunnel and big fans mounted in doors that could be opened and closed for the train to pass through and the smoke to be blown. One of the worst rail disasters in history was a train that parked in a tunnel in Idaho and everyone on the train died of carbon monoxide. A guy told me, and I don't know if this is fact or not - that the floor of a tunnel always has a grade so the train can roll out and the smoke will rise better to clear the tunnel after the train rolls through.
I imagine you're right about pushing the tender and the increased chances for a derailment. It's interesting (at least from what I've observed) that even after coal was replaced by oil forward cab locomotives were not common until the advent of diesel/electric locomotives.
I believe that the first cab forward(called the AC class) was built around 1928 in the Sacramento shops after the crew deaths,and were designed just for the Roseville to Truckee runs, they could pull 70 lorded cattle cars over the pass. They were used in other areas later. I have a copy of the last one to run over and back pulling a fan train Dec 1 1957, Eng. No. 4274.
The Cab Forward and the coastal Daylight engines are my favorites. Bob