World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Axe ties

Article Id: WHEBN0005712809
Reproduction Date:

Title: Axe ties  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Railroad tie, Wood products, Permanent way, Broadaxe, Rail tracks
Collection: Permanent Way, Wood Products
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Axe ties

Axe ties are railway ties (or sleeper)[1] that are hewn by hand, usually with a broadaxe. There are 2,900 ties per mile of track on a first class railroad. The early railways would not accept ties cut with a saw, as it was claimed that the kerf of the saw splintered the fibres of the wood, leaving them more likely to soak up moisture causing premature rot.


  • The process 1
  • Wood species 2
  • Production in Canada 3
  • References 4

The process

Geoff Marples wrote an account of being a tiehack in the East Kootenays in 1938 and described the process of making axe ties to include:[2][3] First a suitable tree was chosen and then falling and limbing the tree. Next came scoring which is chopping, by eye without a chalk line, of notches to remove extra wood about every 10 inches (25 cm); hewing the trunks only on two sides unless the log was over 11 inches (28 cm); bucking (cutting to in this case 8 feet (2.4 m)); peeling any remaining bark off; and stacking the ties so a chain can be wrapped around them. Next came skidding each group of ties to a landing with a team of horses, and then loading and hauling the ties to a railway siding by truck and unloading by hand. Scaling was the key event where a railroad inspector accepted or culled (rejected) and graded each tie as a number one (7 inches (18 cm) by 9 inches (23 cm) used for the main railroad lines) or number two (6 inches (15 cm) by 6 inches (15 cm) used for sidings). Loading the 200 pounds (91 kg) ties by hand onto a car was the last task. Marples wrote that he netted 48 cents for each grade one, and 36 cents for each grade two and made $150 for a winters work.

Wood species

Cedar was the most sought after wood for ties, however, as electric power came into more common use in the early 1900s, it was substituted with other species such as Tamarack. In northern regions where Jack Pine was plentiful, that species became a more common source for railway ties. Jack Pine ties did not last as long as Cedar or Tamarack (lying on the ground), but were cheaper to produce. As creosote treatment came into use the axe ties were phased out, but Jack Pine remained best suited for softwood ties.

Production in Canada

Axe tie production was an early industry of importance for many communities in Ontario along the railway in the early 1900s. Examples include Foleyet and Nemegos.


  1. ^ "Railroad n." def. 3.c. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
  2. ^ . No. 60.British Columbia Forest History NewsletterMarples, Geoff. "The Tiehack", part 1.. August 2000. Victoria, B. C., Forest History Association of British Columbia. p. 1-4. print.
  3. ^ . No. 61.British Columbia Forest History NewsletterMarples, Geoff. "The Tiehack", part 2.. December 2000. Victoria, B. C., Forest History Association of British Columbia. p. 1-4. print.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.