Turntables aren’t just for records! In fact, they were used for locomotives long before they were spinning your favorite classics. Use of turntables to turn locomotives dates back to the 1830s, many years before the phonograph was invented in 1877. Record players may have since been replaced with media players and mobile devices, but turntables on the railroad remain in rotation.
The earliest use for a turntable was to redirect trains. The very first locomotives could only run in one direction, so a device was needed to turn them. Even with bi-directional trains today, turntables are still used as a convenient means for moving locomotives and other equipment onto tracks headed in the correct direction.