No pot bellies on these guys.
There is a town in Wyoming to the NW of Lander named Dubois. There is a monument and other stuff honoring the "Tie Hacks" that cut ties in that part of the world, floated them down the river.
There is a Park of sorts in the extreme NE corner of Utah, you have to want to go there to get there, and it is an all day run in 4 wheel drive. It is called John Jarvie's, he homesteaded and made a place out of ties that he got out of the Green River, those ties were "branded" so a man could be paid for them, don't know how he handled that aspect of it. The house, barn, pens and all are made out of those old ties.
They used to have a Festival of sorts in Dubois and men would compete and show how it was done, it was amazing how quickly they could square up a log, and I swear, the four sides would like it had been done on a saw.
They told stories of how they could square up a log into a tie in just a very, very few minutes. Haven't been up there in many years, so don't know if it still happens.
When I lived down on the Texas Coast in the woods, there was a family called Street that were old time saw mill hands, they made a living going from place to place with their saw mill and working an area out. They were masters with an axe, and could cut and dress a log that would be picture perfect by hand, all a lost art.
They talked about $1.75 a day, I worked for less when a youngster, and glad to get it.
Thank you for posting this Steve. I was entertained by this story.
I had known my future wife in High School in rural St. Charles County (just west of the city). In 1977 when we first started going out she was living with her grand father because she was working in St. Louis County at a bank. He had been alone and she was closer to work living with him. At that time I had been working on our family farm, selling firewood with a friend and working for a landscaping company.(I already had my Model TT truck). What I'm getting at is when I first met my wife's grandfather we hit it off. He was a retired carpenter and businessman. He wanted to know what I was doing. When I told him I was building retaining walls out of used rail road ties, he wanted to tell me about his younger years.
His name was Carl Merritt. He was from down around Salem Missouri and had grown up along the Huzzah River. He was born in 1904 if I remember right, and at one time had been a tie hacker. The ties we would work with building walls were either 7x9's or 6x8's. Most were sawn,some were hewn. When I mention this Mr. Merritt told me how men would go out into the forest and fell trees and use a broad axe to square the logs into ties and make piles of ties. They would sell them to the rail road companies. He had done this work himself. His story fits the story and the timeline in the film just right.
Who knows maybe with a magnifying glass and some imagination someone could pick him out in the film I just watched on youtube!
It's amazing to me that those guys have a green railroad tie put on their shoulder and walk up a ramp carrying it. The video says the ties weighed "several hundred pounds" and I believe it.
Back when I was younger, working hard building houses and stuff, I was a lot stronger than I am now. But I was never that strong! You wouldn't want to tangle with one of those guys down at the local honky-tonk.
What an awesome video.
Interesting little note, the little town of Bagnell,Mo. claims to have been the RR TIE capitol of the world.
Those ties lasted a long time. I have seen many ties that were hand hewn and had the "S" bars in the ends when I was a kid and used to walk along the tracks in NW. MO. in the fifties and sixties. Dave
My Grandfather made $1.00 a day as a blacksmith for the city of Columbus, Ohio in the thirties.
I make less than $1.75 a day when working on my A & T.
Best info I could find was from the Railway Tie Association and they have all kinds of info and history going back to the 1800s. In general a cross tie is a 7" x 9" x 8' piece of hardwood. Average weight of a new tie is 235 lbs.
Man, watching those guys carve out a tie with those big-bladed axes is unreal. The finished product looks like it's every bit as smooth as regular "rough cut" lumber.
That enormous buzz saw is terrifying. The little T-powered one is scary enough but that monstrosity gives me the heeby jeebies.