• Kensei Area
  • Buildings・Former Residence
  • Industry・Industrial Heritage

Bungo Mori Roundhouse

Photography/TAKEUCHI Yasunori

a Storyteller of the Steam Locomotive Era

 About 80 kilometers from Kurume, and about 75 kilometers from Oita, there is Bungo Mori Station (Kusu), right in the middle of JR Kyudai Line. This is the main reason why the roundhouse is placed here. In addition, it is located in the plain field in the middle of Kusu Basin. The site was also blessed for development.
 In the steam locomotives era, the supply of coal and water was essential for long runs. For this reason, facilities called roundhouses were established in various places in addition to the starting and terminal stations. A railway turntable for changing direction of the locomotive and maintenance facilities was added to the supply functions.
 However, the age of steam locomotives ended, and there was no longer need for roundhouses. Due to this, many were demolished, but Bungo Mori Roundhouse survived. Now, it is one of the very few railroad heritage in the entire country.
 The roundhouse was established in 1934, the same year as the opening of the Kyudai Line. Three years later, the Miyanoharu Line, a branch line connecting Mori and the Housenji Temple, also opened, and Mori Station and the roundhouse contributed as a base for railway transportation. Even after the World War II, it expanded its scale with 25 locomotives and supported the glory days of the regional railways.
 However in 1970, the advancement of diesel progressed and the roundhouse was abolished at last. At the site, the rail has been removed but the railway siding extending radially from the turntable and the fan-shaped roundhouse, with a radius of 48 meters and with storage space for 13 locomotives, remains standing as if an ancient amphitheater. Inside, the duct for smoke ventilation remains, and the glass window is left broken. On the outer wall in the back, there are still bullet marks left as is, shot by the U.S. carrier-based aircraft at the end of the World War II. Several aircrafts attacked while circling around, and three employees were sacrificed.
 Into the 21st century, a preservation committee was founded by local volunteers, after which the town government acquired it together with the land. Then it was registered as a Nationally Designated Tangible Cultural Property, and it is planned to be developed as a railway memorial park in the future. A resort train, limited express “Yufuin no Mori,” runs through next to the roundhouse whose presence is so outstanding that no one can ignore.

The roundhouse kept 25 locomotives after the World War II and supported the glory days of the regional railways. It is the only roundhouse in Kyushu that remains in its original form.