Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What was the pace of hammering rail spikes? How fast?

From: "Jane Rohrschneider" keywestjane@kwahs.org

I am trying to find information about railways for our new exhibit "Speedway to Sunshine." It is about the history of the railroad in Key West.

The information that I need, and am hoping you can help with, concerns one of the hands-on areas in the exhibit. This area will contain a large hammer that they used to hammer spikes and people will be able to hold it to see how heavy it was. I found some info. about the contest of John Henry and his 20 pound hammer but could not find out how fast he (or anyone) can hammer a spike into the rail. I would like to know how many blows it took a man to get a spike into the rail and how fast he could do it. I also read that men worked slowly so the other men would not get angry, so I wonder if the boss had some sort of rule that so many spikes had to be put in during a certain time. ...

—Jane Rohrschneider