Monday, June 30, 2014

Joe's Bees

From the steamer trunk.

Does this picture make you feel bugs crawling on you?

2014-6-30. 17a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Postcard images courtesy of E.H.


These critters are identified by a note on the back of the postcard:

2014-6-30. 17b

"Joe" would be Joseph Mundell. His land lay just south of the Rossow farm; the two families were neighbors and friends.

2014-6-30. Rossow-Mundell 1908
From the 1908 Plat Map. The "J. Mundell" at this time would have been James, Joe's father.

No date on the postcard. Joseph described himself as a beekeeper from his WWI Draft Card through the 1930 Census. The style of stamp box on the postcard dates it between 1904 and 1918. So I'd guess that the picture dates to between 1910 and 1918.



2014-6-30. bees 1923

The two pictures above appeared in a photo collage titled "Industries," in the Hobart High School Aurora yearbook of 1923. Joseph Mundell was then secretary of the Board of Education. He was board president when he place the advertisement below in the 1926 Aurora.

2014-6-30. bees 1926

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Road Trip News! Also, Baby News

Dr. Clara Faulkner, Mary Kipp, and Mrs. George Hatten returned from their four-week road trip on May 25, 1921, and got a big write-up in the News. (The News seems slightly better informed than the Gazette was about Mrs. Hatten's identity, thus suggesting that I correctly identified her as Ida Hatten, of Hobart.) The well-traveled Dr. Faulkner was impressed with Hobart's new camping ground … or at least she was kind enough to say she was.

Four days earlier, Peter and Hulda Palm had welcomed into the world their first son, after two daughters. That didn't get much of a write-up, of course, because a baby was nothing out of the ordinary. (But at least now I know exactly when Elmer Palm was born.)

2014-6-29. Road trip, Palm
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of 26 May 1921.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Mystery of Clifford Stolp

From the steamer trunk.

2014-6-28. 6a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.


Here, in his too-large Sunday best, is Clifford Stolp. I love that little half-smile of his. It seems to say he's planning to do something big as soon as they let him out of those glad-rags.

On the back of the postcard is a date — "Apr 9 '16" — which, assuming it's near the date the photo was taken, would put Clifford at about 14 years of age.

2014-6-28. 6b

If I've got the genealogy right, he was a cousin of Minnie Rossow Harms: the son of her mother's brother, Herman Stolp, and his first wife, Katherine Schrankel.

Clifford is maddeningly elusive. The only official record I can find him in is the 1920 Census, where he is 18 years old, boarding* at the home of Jennie Clifford in Hobart, and working in a steel mill. (His widowed father and a younger brother were boarding at a home in Chicago.)

Before that, and after that, he is invisible. The only clue we have about his fate comes from Minnie Harms' manuscript, "As It Was Told to Me," in which she says that he "died from wounds during the beginning of World War II," leaving a wife and daughter. But I can't confirm any of that.

Even more perplexing, to me, is that I could have sworn I found, a few weeks ago, some kind of military record on Ancestry.com that gave him name as Edward Clifford Stolp. I remember thinking that I had perhaps found the reason he was so elusive — because his official first name was Edward, but he usually went by Clifford among family and friends. However, I dropped the search at the time, and didn't put that record in my "shoebox." And now I can't find it again, which makes me wonder if I only dreamed that whole episode.

And so Clifford remains a mystery.

________________________
*On Ancestry.com, the word written in the "relationship to head of family" column is transcribed as "stepson," but to me it looks more like "boarder."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Amanda's Son by Her First Marriage

The Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society has a three-ring binder full of notes concerning local families — when they came here, and from where; who married whom and begat whom; and in some cases, little details about their farms or businesses, or what motivated them to settle in this area. I get the impression that this is all oral history, based on the memories of old-timers that (thank goodness) someone took the trouble to collect and organize, more or less.

Anyway, I found some information about the Guernseys, and in particular Otis and his confusing wives and children. According to these notes, the DeWell family archivist was correct in her conclusion that Clarence McDonald was not Minnie's son but Amanda's, by her previous marriage.

So here you go: a whole lot of stuff about the Guernseys:

2014-6-27. Guernsey genealogy 1
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Merrillville/Ross Township Historical Society.


2014-6-27. Guernsey genealogy 2

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bad Times

From the heart-rending down to the merely annoying, bad news packed the front page of the Hobart Gazette of May 20, 1921.

2014-6-26. Shooting, thefts
(Click on images to enlarge)


The Gazette overestimated George Neimeyer's age. The 1920 Census information and the dates on his grave marker indicate that he would have been 13 years old at the time of his death.

I think the "old Scot Burge farm" straddled present-day U.S. 30 on the west side of Colorado Street, as seen on the 1908 Plat Map (Mary Burge being Winfield Scott Burge's wife):

2014-6-26. Burge 1908

George Niemeyer's parents, Fred and Eda, also had three teen-aged daughters, and a five-year-old son.


The Ridge Road Gardens was a restaurant, and I have the impression that it was near the site of the Black Cat — i.e., on Ridge Road where I-65 now passes over it. "Proprietor" Oleska's first name was Mike, and his wife was Anna.

H.W. Paxton was, I believe, Harry Windle Paxton of Hobart, who worked as a coal and lumber salesman (WWI Draft Cards, 1930 Census).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

McAfee's Woods

I haven't yet posted all the material I have from the steamer trunk, and I haven't yet gotten to the bottom of the steamer trunk! — which I was intending to do, a few days ago, while visiting the trunk's owner, but we got distracted by some intriguing scrapbooks and boxes stored in the same spare room.

As a result, we never even touched the steamer trunk that day, but I have begun a couple new collections. The first consists of a number of photos that apparently came to Minnie Rossow Harms from her nephew, Lester, somehow — either he gave them to her in his old age (since she had come to be the family historian) or they came to her after his death, for she survived him by almost a year.

The photos center around Lester, his parents and sister, his extended family, his wife, his friends, the farm that he eventually owned at Colorado Street and Harms Road, and the cars, horses, cows, pigs and dogs that were part of his life.

Those photos were all stored in a flat box, and in spite of a few other photos in there evidently from another source, let's call everything in that box the "Lester Harms collection."

And for our first sampling of the Lester Harms collection — since we were just talking about McAfee's woods, let's see them in 1932:

2014-6-25. lh019
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of E.H.


Handwritten on the back: "Les hauling logs out of McAfee woods on Cleve. Ave." Clyde and Barney are the horses. Unfortunately, there's nothing here to tell us exactly where McAfee's woods were.

There is some kind of structure back among the trees at right, and it looks vaguely like a picnic shelter, but a lot could have happened between 1921 and 1932, so it may have nothing to do with the Yellowstone Trail camping ground.


… And I still have those scrapbooks of Minnie's, mentioned above, to get to. Folks, I am extremely busy these days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ross Township School Commencement

The new W.G. Haan school's first academic year was nearing its end. The auditorium — in the school's basement, I believe — would be the venue for Ross Township's eighth-grade commencement ceremonies in May 1921.

2014-6-24. Ross Twp. Commencement
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette, 20 May 1921.


We know the District 2 teacher, Elsie Gruel. I suppose District 2 was the W.G. Haan school, considering the number of graduating students in that district and the distribution of their homes around Ainsworth — for example, Vincent Chester came from the northeast, John Mankey from the southeast, Grace Sullivan from the southwest.

Mabel Henrichs, or Henricks, was Laura's sister.


… Also, a progress report on the Lincoln Highway improvements.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Godmother

From the steamer trunk.*

2014-6-23. 1910-03-05-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.


The lady with the fabulous hat is Emma Roecker. The little boy is her son, Norbert. The inscription says (I think): "Fröliche Ostern" — "Happy Easter," and she has dated it at Champaign, Illinois, March 25, 1910.

Things get a little more complicated on the other side.

2014-6-23. 1910-03-05-b

Folks, I did my best to decipher this, with a reference sheet of Sütterlin characters and my pitifully small German vocabulary (and she mixes English and non-Sütterlin script in there too!). For the sake of my own sanity, I had to give up. Here's my transcription, with blanks in the place of words I just could not figure out.
Hello Tony
Kennst du uns? unser kleiner Norbert wird im July 5 Jahr das ist unser baby.
[Do you recognize us? Our little Norbert will be 5 years old in July. That is our baby.]
______ ________ ________ alle.
your
W & E. R.
The "W" stands for William, Emma's husband. Per the 1920 Census, he was a church pastor. They lived in the city of Champaign. Aside from little Norbert, the couple had a nine-year-old daughter, Alpha. Around 1916 they had another son, William Jr. The 1920 Census records them in Chicago, with William serving as a church deacon.

The "Tony" in the salutation, of course, was Antonia (or Antonie; I find her name spelled different ways) Rossow.

Now, as to that scrawl at the bottom — "Mom's godmother" — I suspect "Mom" was Minnie Rossow Harms, if only because this postcard was in her steamer trunk. Emma wasn't old enough to be Antonia's godmother.

Here's another postcard (same source) of Emma, undated and unexplained.

2014-6-23. 12a

2014-6-23. 12b

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What Dan Maybaum Had

Dan Maybaum, now living in the village of Ainsworth, had a car to lend, and $10 to help out a friend who got in trouble in the big city …

2014-6-22. Fleming, Maybaum
(Click on image to enlarge)

… and land to sell:
Mrs. Chas. Henning last week purchased the house and one and a half acres of Fred Carbine at Ainsworth, located north of the new school building, and also an acre of ground from Dan Maybaum.
"Mrs. Chas. Henning" was Henrietta, a 62-year-old widow and mother of Elsie (Henning) Nelson.

Fred Carbein described himself in the 1920 Census as a salesman in a "grain house" (perhaps William Raschka's?), and based on his neighbors, he and his family (including a 13-year-old orphan girl) did appear to be living in Ainsworth, near the schoolhouse.


Source: "Local and Personal." Hobart News 19 May 1921.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Unknown Young Woman

The photographer was John Naumann of Hobart, Ind. — that's all I know.

2014-6-21. Unidentified by Naumann a
(Click on image to enlarge)

This portrait was probably taken to commemorate her 8th-grade graduation, or her confirmation.

The postcard is unused. What I know of John Naumann's studio in Hobart would put this photo between late 1913 and early 1919, which is also consistent with the young woman's fashions, and the stamp box on the back:

2014-6-21. Unidentified by Naumann b

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Camp Ground in McAfee's Woods

Since January 1921 the Hobart Commercial Club had been working with Paul Newman, trailsman, to develop a camping ground near Hobart for tourists on the Yellowstone Trail. At a Commercial Club meeting in March, the camping-ground committee reported on its progress: it had entered negotiations with William McAfee to rent four acres of his "7-acre wood lot east of town"; it had planned what improvements would be built and roughly how much those improvements would cost (about $250, to be raised by subscription); it had already received donations of over $100.

I do not know exactly where these four acres were. William McAfee had owned land along the south side of Cleveland Avenue, east of town, for many years (indeed, his parents had owned land there at least since the 1870s), but it's in different places per the 1908 Plat Map

2014-6-20. W. McAfee 1908
(Click on images to enlarge)

…and the 1926 Plat Book.

2014-6-20. W. McAfee 1926

Nor can I see anything recognizable as a camping ground in the 1939 aerial photos, though we do see what looks like a wooded tract on the southeast corner of Cleveland and S.R. 51. But it's a long time between 1921 and 1939, and the camping ground may not have been in existence by then, even if it could be identified from the air.


Anyway, work went forward during the spring of 1921, and by the end of April, the camping ground was nearly completed.

2014-6-20. Camping ground

The Commercial Club had exceeded its own goal in raising money. So many local individuals and businesses had contributed that I can't index them all. The Kulage Brick Works even donated bricks.

2014-6-20. Report


Sources:
♦ "Commercial Club Holds Good Meeting." Hobart Gazette 11 Mar. 1921.
♦ "Report on Tourists' Camp Ground." Hobart News 19 May 1921.
♦ "Tourists' Camp Ground About Ready." Hobart Gazette 29 Apr. 1921.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Little Boy"

From the steamer trunk.

2014-6-19. 1912-10-12-a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of E.H.


And who was sending this flirtatious postcard to Herman Harms? For once, it wasn't Minnie Rossow.

2014-6-19. 1912-10-12-b

Those aren't her initials, and that's not her handwriting. Even when she disguises her handwriting, it looks nothing like that. And she doesn't include "Lake Co." in addressing her cards.

Herman and Minnie weren't really going steady yet, so he was free to receive all the flirtatious postcards he liked. What puzzles me is why Minnie kept this one. Perhaps she knew the sender, too, and knew it was all just playfulness. How I wish his admirer had signed her full name!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lincoln Highway Update, and a Party at the Lutes'

Aside from road workers nearly killing each other, work on the Lincoln Highway was "progressing very nicely" in the late spring of 1921.

2014-6-18. Lincoln Hwy progress, etc.
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News 12 May 1921.


The right-hand column includes a few items about acquaintances of ours. Dr. Mary Faulkner and Mary Kipp had arrived at Millertown, Pennsylvania (where they had also stopped on their previous year's road trip), and William Jahnke demonstrates how much it cost him to serve on a jury in Crown Point.

We haven't talked too much about the Lutes yet, but "Will Lute and family" probably included the 12-year-old Clarence Lute, Mildred Lindborg's future husband. William Lute, Sr. had come over from Germany in 1868, at about 14 years of age. His wife, Louise, was a native Hoosier with German-immigrant parents. They lived in LaPorte County, Indiana, when the 1880 Census came around, and in Porter County (Portage Township) for the 1900 Census. The 1908 Plat Map shows them in Hobart Township, on the farm at 61st Avenue and Arizona Street, where they would remain.

2014-6-18. Lute land 1908
(Click on image to enlarge)

I'm guessing the Shults, Schnabel and Berndt connections came about through marriages of the Lute daughters. I know nothing about Fritz Miller of LaPorte.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grand Trunk Passenger Train

These photos weren't taken in Ainsworth, but still they caught my fancy. They show a Grand Trunk Western passenger train pulled by a steam engine. To judge by the number of gawkers, it's some kind of special train. The slides are stamped "Oct 60F," and a date of 1960 would be consistent with the automobiles in the first picture (thanks, R.F.!).

I especially like this first one, where the photographer climbed atop a boxcar to get a better view:

2014-6-17. Grand Trunk excursion train 1
(Click on images to enlarge)


The second picture immortalizes the backs of some spectators' heads. It was a good spot for a view, I gather, though I haven't a clue what they were standing on.

2014-6-17. Grand Trunk excursion train 2

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Cheerful Liar and the Hot-Headed Shooter

Here's what was going on in the new Ainsworth school in May of 1921.

2014-6-16. Cheerful Liar
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News, 12 May 1921.


I gather that the Palmer Stock Company got its name from the village of Palmer, in Winfield Township (where Randolph Street crossed the CC&L/C&O railroad). While I haven't identified C.H. and Mrs. C.H. Burge, the other cast members appear locally in the 1920 census.

In searching (unsuccessfully) for the text of the play, I came across a story of some Minnesota high school students who decided against performing it, I gather, because of its potential to corrupt young people.

Above the Cheerful Liar ad is another for a baseball game to be played at the Hobart Speedway … a novel way to use a motorcycle racetrack.


Meanwhile, at the old Ainsworth school …

2014-6-16. Shooting
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette, 13 May 1921.


The Gazette speaks of "Mike Murphy" as if local readers would know him, but he's a mystery to me. As is Dan Maybaum, still.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Former Nolte House, 1947

Here is the saddest house in Ainsworth, in happier times.

2014-6-15. Deep River Farm 1947 001 detail
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Chester Wasy.


This image comes from the 1947 property assessment report prepared for the Wasy family.

2014-6-15. Deep River Farm 1947 001

I do not know how much remodeling this house went through between 1934 and 1947 — not enough to make it unrecognizable to a former neighbor of the Nolte brothers!

As you may remember, this house stood on the west bank of the Deep River, on the north side of Ainsworth Road, east of Big Maple Lake. Mr. Wasy has told me that the property assessment report included a map showing the layout of this farm (houses and outbuildings), which he will send me when he is able; I am hoping that map will help me make sense of the ruins in the woods. I already have photos of the outbuildings and will get around to posting those eventually.

The Wasys lived here for two years before moving to the former Chester house.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pigs and Cows, and People I Just Can't Find

The Nolte Bros., "Hen" and "Lou," are selling Duroc Jersey pigs; Herman Harms took his teen-aged nephew, Lester, to a sale of Holsteins; Mary Yager* hosts a former pastor … and someone I've never heard of and can't find in any records dies an untimely death.

2014-6-14. Pigs, cows
(Click on image to enlarge)

I've looked in my blog and my notes, and can't find any previous mention of this John Bromberg. I've looked for him without success in the census and death records. I've looked in the NWIGS's all-name listing for Deer Creek Cemetery in Lake County — he's not listed.

(As for the "Hayward farm south of Ainsworth," I believe it was the southwest quarter of Section 29, so it lay on the west border of part of the Hurlburt land that gave Hurlburt's corners its name.)

The following day's Gazette carried an item that brought to mind another person I just can't find:
Mrs. W.H. Wagoner of Goshen, Ind., came to Hobart Wednesday to visit at the home of her daughter, Mrs. C.H. Messick. She was joined yesterday by her son, W.B. Wagoner, and wife, from Chicago, the occasion being their mother's birthday.
It's clear enough that Mrs. W.H. Wagoner was the mother of Bertha Wagoner, who married Cephas Messick in 1905 — thus the grandmother of Dalia Messick. And while I don't know her given name, I don't really care … except that all this reminds me of W.N. Wagoner, the mysterious saloonkeeper who flitted into and out of Ainsworth between September 1905 and March 1906, leaving behind no trace but a remonstrance. His identity has thus far completely eluded me. I wonder if there was any family connection between him and these Wagoners?

__________________________
*I hope I've identified her correctly. She was about 66 years old, the wife of our strawberry-growing Jacob Yager, living in Union Township, Porter County. Adam Yager was their son (who lived with them per the 1920 Census), and the Jake Yager mentioned as attending may have been another son, unless that was the News's very strange way of naming Jake Sr.


Sources:
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 12 May 1921.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 13 May 1921.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hollyhocks

From the steamer trunk.

One summer morning, on the Harms farm east of Ainsworth, the hollyhocks were blooming so beautifully that someone wanted to memorialize them … as well as they could be memorialized on black-and-white film.

6-13-2014 st204
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of E.H.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Death of Fred Hillman

Fred Hillman and his wife, Bessie, had just moved into the flat over the soft-drink parlor when a car accident took his life in May 1921.

6-12-2014 Fred Hillman accident
(Click on images to enlarge)

Fred's funeral was in keeping with his status as a prominent, life-long citizen of Hobart, a member of the Elks Lodge, and an army veteran of the World's War.

6-12-2014 Fred Hillman Funeral


William J. Killigrew was appointed administrator of Fred's estate. Ed Scheidt and Emil Scharbach carried out the appraisal of its value.

♦    ♦    ♦

Fred's grave marker in Hobart Cemetery.

6-12-2014 Fred Hillman grave marker

He lies beside his mother, Mary — John's first wife …

6-12-2014 Mary Hillman grave marker

… and a brother, Wallace, who was born in August 1892 and died in October 1892.

6-12-2014 Wallace Hillman grave marker


Sources:
♦ "Fred Hillman Killed This (Thursday) Morning When Car Turns Over." Hobart News 12 May 1921.
♦ "Fred Hillman Killed." Hobart Gazette 13 May 1921.
♦ "Fred Hillman Laid at Rest." Hobart Gazette 20 May 1921.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 19 May 1921.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 20 May 1921.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1952 GMC Fire Truck

Another slide photographed by Chuck Madderom outside the Ainsworth-Deep River Fire Department station on September 19, 1983.

6-11-2014 1952 GMC 9-19-1983
(Click on image to enlarge)

Handwritten notes on the original read:
1952 GMC
250/500
55C
… which is Greek to me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Derailment on the Grand Trunk

We haven't heard much from Ernest and Myrtle (Nelson) Sitzenstock since February 1919, when they moved onto the "Henning farm." I've mentioned before that I couldn't find them in the 1920 Census, but just recently I took the trouble to start reading through it, looking for them, and luckily found them without having to read all 30 pages! Their surname had been transcribed incorrectly. Anyway, the enumerator* listed them as farming rented land, and judging by their neighbors I'd say they were still on the Henning farm.

Now it's May 1921, and they have just rented D.T. Case's 160 acres (which formerly belonged to D.T.'s brother, Benjamin).


Elsewhere in the countryside, a little excitement when a minor derailment on the Grand Trunk sends lumber spilling down the "steep embankment" west of the Deep River bridge, and I can tell you that even today the embankment there is very steep, and very high.

6-10-2014 Grand Trunk derailment
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News, 5 May 1921.


____________________________
*Sam B. Woods, who adds an intriguing note on the census form, seemingly about a neighboring farm that is standing empty: "The man that farmed this last year has moved away and the man that is here has been taken" — wish I knew what that was about!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Wasy House, 1947

Formerly the Chester house, by 1947 it had been remodeled into (more or less) its present-day form.

6-9-2014 Wasy house
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Chester Wasy.


This photo was taken for the same property assessment report that gave us a look at the guest house.

6-9-2014 Chester Wasy Residence 001

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Double Sapper Wedding

The last of April 1921 was a joyous day in the home of Charles and Minnie Sapper, as two of their daughters, Matilda and Rosella, became wives.

6-8-2014 Sapper wedding
(Click on image to enlarge)

I don't know what Caroline (Sapper) Nelson did about her nine-day-old infant — perhaps she wasn't able to attend her sisters' wedding. On the other hand, I'd be surprised if Albert and Frieda Witt didn't drive up from the Kegebein farm to see his brother married.


6-8-2014 Sapper-Witt-Henschel wedding
(Click on images to enlarge)
Photos courtesy of the Ewen family.
Back row: Wilbert Wagener, Lillian Fasel, unidentified, Annabel Sapper, Albert Kraft, unidentified. Front Row: Emil Henschel, Rose Sapper, Matilda Sapper, Paul Witt.


6-8-2014 Emil and Rosella Sapper Henschel
Emil and Rosella (Sapper) Henschel.

I don't know much about Emil Henschel. He was born in Germany in 1890 and came to this country in 1905. I can't find him in the 1920 census.


Sources:
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
♦ "Double Wedding." Hobart Gazette 6 May 1921.
WWII Army Enlistment Records.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Railroad Maintenance: New Ties

It happened Thursday morning. The first machine to come rumbling along was yet another tie crane, moving the new ties around a bit to distribute them more evenly along the right-of-way.

Then the real work started.

This guy removed the spikes from the old ties.

1a spike remover
(Click on images to enlarge)

He did that by lining up a little notched plate on the arm of his machine with each spike. Precision work and patience!

1b notched plate and spike

They were working on the north track only. The south track was for trains. Work had to stop while this train passed through, since (I'm guessing) the tie crane didn't have room to rotate.

1c spike remover v. train

Step 2 was the tie exchanger, pulling the old ties out from under the rails. Most of the ties came out all in one piece, but the more rotted ones fell apart, and the exchanger had to spend some time getting all the fragments out.

2a tie exchanger

The front mechanism raised the rails off the ties to make it easier to pull them out.

2b tie exchanger business parts

This machine makes it look so easy! Think of the manpower this work required, before the invention of the tie exchanger.

2c tie exchanger

Speaking of manpower — these guys had to walk the line behind the tie exchanger, retrieving the anchor plates from the old ties. Those plates would be re-used on the new ties.

3a collecting plates

Then another tie crane picked up the old ties and stacked them at intervals along the way.

4a tie crane

Now, I don't know what this machine is, or exactly what it was doing — it appeared to be clearing ballast away from each tie position.

5a mysterious machine

Tie Crane No. 3 just moved each new tie into position to be slid under the rails …

6a tie crane no. 3

… and the sliding-under-the-rails part was done by Tie Exchanger No. 2.

7a tie exchanger no. 2

7b tie exchanger no. 2

A small sweeper followed, clearing away ballast, fragments of tie wood, and any other debris from atop the new ties.

8a sweeper

Walking behind the sweeper, several men picked up anchor plates the old-fashioned way, with low-tech metal tools, and put them atop the new ties, ready to be slid under the rails. That job was done by the guy at right in the picture below. His metal tool was anything but low-tech, being electronically connected to that little machine; he'd push a button, the machine would raise the rail, he'd slide the anchor plate into position under it, then instruct the machine to let down the rail. And so on for each tie.

9a replacing plates

Next came our old pal, the ballast tamper, firming up the ballast under each new tie.

10a ballast tamper

Bringing up the end of the parade was the spike-driving machine, pounding the spikes through the anchor plates to hold the rails to the new ties.

11a spike driver

It sounded like a machine gun firing short bursts. You couldn't really see the hammering action, as that part of the mechanism was shielded by a heavy metal screen.

11b spike driver close-up

One crew member sat in the cab hand-loading spikes into the feed tube.


And that was how they put in the new ties. I watched them all morning, and by the time they got through I was as tired of railroad maintenance as you people are. But I just had to post this. The railroad probably won't need new ties again for 10 years, by which time I don't expect to be blogging!