LumberJocks

The Railroad Tie Story !

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dick, & Barb Cain posted 03-28-2007 07:04 PM 932 reads 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

You may have noticed that many of my projects have been made from Black Walnut from railroad ties.

Here’s a little story about them.
Quite a few years ago, back in 1953, I was working as a Track laborer at an Iron Ore Mine, operated by United States Steel Corp.

They did their mining by running their own railroad down in the ore pits.
Everyday the tracks had to be moved in order for the trains to get close enough for the power shovels to reach, & load the rail cars. That’s because they dug such huge quantities of material operating the mine 24/7 .

They used untreated White Oak ties to hold costs down, because there was an awful lot of damage from constantly shifting the tracks, & moving them. They used to get multiple box car loads of ties.

I sometimes was put on the crew to unload the box cars, & I noticed that once in awhile there would be one of these dark brown ties. The guys told me they were Black Walnut. Those were always set aside, & someone would come with a pickup, & haul them away.

Also the employees were allowed to take the old unusable ties for firewood, so a lot of homes were heated with ties.

Many years later, in 1990, a widow of an old friend gave me a call, & said she was cleaning out her garage, & asked me to come over. She showed me the three railroad ties stacked up against the rear wall of the garage.

She told me I could have them if I wanted them, because I had helped her with some repairs at her home.

I accepted them, but I gave her $25. I would have felt a little foolish taking them for nothing.

_I was thinking to myself later, could these ties be the same ties I had handled almost 40 years earlier, because her husband had worked for the same company.

Now! what shall I do with them ?_

A new wood processing plant, that manufactured hardwood wainscoating, had recently started up just down the highway from where I worked. I stopped one day, & took a tour of the plant. I got aquainted with the owner.

I told him about the three ties I had. He suggested that I bring them to him, & he’d have them resawed for me.

When I went to pick the boards up. I asked him what I owed, & he kindly said, ”nothing”.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1



26 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15714 posts in 2942 days


#1 posted 03-28-2007 07:13 PM

You must be one heck of a smooth talker, Dick.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3023 days


#2 posted 03-28-2007 07:18 PM

I have slivers in my tongue.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Drew1House's profile

Drew1House

425 posts in 2811 days


#3 posted 03-28-2007 07:27 PM

Around here… I have never seen a hardwood tie… I would think that you would not be able to put a spike in them?

Drew

-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3023 days


#4 posted 03-28-2007 07:34 PM

My fingers used to swell up like Banana’s after swinging a spike hammer all day. It tempts a person to look for a different job. That’s the job everyone starts out with in the mines.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Max's profile

Max

55978 posts in 2996 days


#5 posted 03-28-2007 08:23 PM

I have a cousin that worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a bridge and tunnel engineer, he acquired some timbers from some of the old tunnels that were clear northern cedar and redwood. These timbers were about 106 years old and were 14” x 14” and 8’ to 16’ long. I was able to get some of these and have them re-sawn. I will be making something from them also one of these day’s…..

He use them for building a cabin and made some furniture from them…

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Diane's profile

Diane

546 posts in 2846 days


#6 posted 03-28-2007 08:54 PM

Loved the story, what size are these now that they have been cut?

Diane

View BassBully's profile

BassBully

259 posts in 2820 days


#7 posted 03-28-2007 09:07 PM

When I first read your title I cringed at the words, “railroad tie”. Of course, I’m thinking of the ties soaked in creosote.

My first job in high school was at a lumber yard and it never failed, someone would come in during the hottest days of the year or hottest part of the day and want eight or more ties loaded in their truck. Ties soaked in Creosote are heavy and the “S” bars at the ends, which prevent the boards from splitting, would always seem to pinch my fingers. On top of that, the customers would want to sort through the stacks of those ugly things for the best ones.

Your tie experience is much better than mine. Thanks for enlightening me to the fact that ties do have a good purpose.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3023 days


#8 posted 03-28-2007 09:11 PM

3/4” X 8X 8’ and some ended up 5/8” thick.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3023 days


#9 posted 03-28-2007 09:20 PM

I think Creosote is considered a hazardous material now.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3038 days


#10 posted 03-28-2007 10:51 PM

Good story Dick!

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3050 days


#11 posted 03-29-2007 03:47 AM

Great story… I imagine after the swelling came down you could do your carving without a mallet (as well as any sawyering, nailing and general (if not circus-level) feats of hand strength! ;)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View RobS's profile

RobS

1334 posts in 3030 days


#12 posted 03-29-2007 05:30 AM

Dick Cain and the Train Gang. Good name for a band. Nice story, thanks for sharing!

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3050 days


#13 posted 03-29-2007 05:58 AM

Yeah, and they all play guitars (and drums) that he made!

Maybe Mark can come in for a session as a guest musician with one of his flutes!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3038 days


#14 posted 03-29-2007 06:02 AM

Obi on the Mock Guitar!

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3050 days


#15 posted 03-29-2007 06:03 AM

YES!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

showing 1 through 15 of 26 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase