Re: Creosote stain

John Stutz

With the recent discussion of creosote tie stains, I am wondering which, if any, of the NG railroads actually used creosoted ties, or creosoted timber in trestles?  

The White Pass did not, 50 years ago.  In 1976 I found a small tie treating plant at Carcross that used a different preservative process.  That year I hiked about 25 miles of the line, Bennett to Glacier, and retain a strong impression that the ties were much the color of the dust in the ballast.  At that time White Pass ballast was native gravel from an Ice Age glacial out-wash deposit at Log Cabin, and the glacial dust had oxidized to a light, slightly rusty tan.  Over recent decades they have used crushed granite, and that ballast is near white.

Similarly, my impression of the track at Cumbres and Tanglefoot Curve on the D&RGw, in '67, was that the ties were much the color of the local dust. 

Considering documentary sources: the circa 1913 edition of Foster's "Treatise on Wooden Trestle Bridges" suggests that use of creosoted timber in trestles was, in the preceding decade, largely limited to the stringers and floors of ballasted deck trestles.  And at the Bridge & Building Association's 1917 meeting, during discussion of the report on water supply, one railroad's recent use of creosoted timber for new water towers was clearly regarded as innovative.  Despite these indicators, there were a few major roads that had already invested in creosoting plants.  But I suspect that widespread use creosoted ties was a product of the limited supply and increasing wage costs of WW-I.

So I ask: Did the railroads we model actually use creosoted ties and creosoted timber for trestles, in the time frames that we model, or are we simply assuming that they did, because that's what we are accustomed to seeing?

John Stutz

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