Dating from the 1840s, the Martinsburg Roundhouse complex is a rare example of 19th century railroading technology in existence today. The Roundhouse is located in Martinsburg, West Virginia and has experienced two major historical events: The Civil War and the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.
Backstory and Context
During the Civil War, Confederate General Thmas "Stonewall" Jackson was given strict orders to stop all train activity at the Martinsburg Roundhouse. Following orders, Jackson blew up bridges at the railroad as well as pirated some of the B&O trains. In total, 42 locomotives and 386 cars were stolen and destroyed, 36 and ½ miles of track, 17 bridges, 102 miles of telegraph wire, the “Colonnade” Bridge and the B&O roundhouse and machine shops were destroyed."1
On July 14, 1877 angry railroad workers went on strike because of wage cuts at the B&O. Known as The Great Rail Strike of 1877, the event began at Martinsburg Roundhouse complex. The work stoppage lasted a little over a month, was the nation's first nationwide strike, and ended when President Hayes sent in federal troops to suppress the angry workers.
In the late 1980s, one of the two historic roundhouses was destroyed by an arsonist. However, the site still contains numerous antebellum shop buildings and one roundhouse. It is now a National Historic Landmark; the surviving historic roundhouse has stood the test of time with very few architectural changes. The Martinsburg Roundhouse has a deeply rooted history and can be toured today by appointment only.