Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How many spikes were used for the transcontinental railroad?

How many spikes were used for the transcontinental railroad?


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

An eastern newspaper described the work on the railroad:

"A light car, drawn by a single horse, gallops up to the front with its load of rails. Two men seize the end of a rail and start forward, the rest of the gang taking hold by twos, until it is clear of the car. They come forward at a run. At the word of command the rail is dropped in its place, right side up with care, while the same process goes on at the other side of the car. Less than thirty seconds to a rail for each gang, and so four rails go down to the minute ... close behind the first gang come the gaugers, spikers, and bolters, and a lively time they make of it. It is a grand 'anvil chorus' ... It is played in triple time, 3 strokes to the spike. There are 10 spikes to a rail, 400 rails to a mile, 1,800 miles to San Francisco — 21,000,000 times those sledges to be swung: 21,000,000 times are they to come down with their sharp punctuation before the great work of modern America is complete."

So about 7 million spikes!

4/27/2010 9:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

By another estimate, there were between 2,260 and 2,640 ties/mile x 2 spikes/tie x 1,776 miles = 8.1 to 9.4 million spikes used.

4/27/2010 9:28 PM  

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