The Construction of the Blue Mountain Railroad

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
90,000 cross ties, 8 and a half feet by 7 inches by at least 8 inches is a lot of board footage. Were there lumber yards where this amount could be gotten, or would it require harvesting and milling upon placement of the order?
Lubliner.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
90,000 cross ties, 8 and a half feet by 7 inches by at least 8 inches is a lot of board footage. Were there lumber yards where this amount could be gotten, or would it require harvesting and milling upon placement of the order?
Lubliner.
As I noted, the Chief Engineer requested Bragg to detail men to cut the trees along the line of the road and detail men to run the sawmills that were sitting idle nearby. The demand for lumber was so great during the war that most projects had to locate the wood in the wild and arrange for its cutting and sawing. This included shipbuilding, warehouse construction, fortifications -- everything needed wood and it was not available on demand. At least two railroads were extended to reach sawmills to supply the needs.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
At Fortress Rosecrans in Murfreesboro TN, there were water & steam powered sawmills. The surrounding area, ten miles on a side, had been standing timber in 1860. In short order after the 1862 occupation began, that 100 square miles of trees was reduced to stumps. The only trees left were too decrepit to be worth the trouble.

Rail ties were generally made from tree trunks hand sawn to length to be squared using adze & broad axe. When you examine photos, it is not uncommon to see where ties were cut to length with an axe. That is the kind of thing an illustrator takes note of.

it is tangential, Faulkner’s short story ‘The Bear’ is about the clear cutting of a forrest for RR ties. It is about as good a piece of writing as you are likely to ever read.
 

Lubliner

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Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I know there was a lumber mill near Nickajack near the Tennessee border and Chattanooga. The New Orleans shipbuilders were also contracting out for timber cutting and delivery. So the absolute amount of wood overall is staggering, considering the wide uses mentioned above. Seeing pictures of places such as Brandy Station in Virginia I was wondering if there were ever any ties kept in stockpiles somewhere when these delays occurred. In the article @DaveBrt wrote about the Blue Mountain Railroad, he says the owners explained that without iron the work was not worth the cost. So during the hold ups while contracts were being renegotiated it may still have been feasible to send men into the forests for tree-cutting. This way a stockpile could have been set aside for future use.
Lubliner.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
I know there was a lumber mill near Nickajack near the Tennessee border and Chattanooga. The New Orleans shipbuilders were also contracting out for timber cutting and delivery. So the absolute amount of wood overall is staggering, considering the wide uses mentioned above. Seeing pictures of places such as Brandy Station in Virginia I was wondering if there were ever any ties kept in stockpiles somewhere when these delays occurred. In the article @DaveBrt wrote about the Blue Mountain Railroad, he says the owners explained that without iron the work was not worth the cost. So during the hold ups while contracts were being renegotiated it may still have been feasible to send men into the forests for tree-cutting. This way a stockpile could have been set aside for future use.
Lubliner.
Many annual reports of railroads mention the number of ties on hand for the next year's requirements,frequently many tens of thousands. Ties for new construction were not cut until the grading for the specific area had been completed -- sometimes an entire year before the iron would be laid. Contracts for new ties appear to have been three to five years long and were for major suppliers and for the individual who just needed to earn a little cash (perhaps to get by while waiting for the first crop on a new farm or to cover for a failed crop).
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Many annual reports of railroads mention the number of ties on hand for the next year's requirements,frequently many tens of thousands. Ties for new construction were not cut until the grading for the specific area had been completed -- sometimes an entire year before the iron would be laid. Contracts for new ties appear to have been three to five years long and were for major suppliers and for the individual who just needed to earn a little cash (perhaps to get by while waiting for the first crop on a new farm or to cover for a failed crop).
Contract Bid advertisements for various needs are an interesting read. In the Washington Evening Star these opportunities are scattered through a page every day. Most times they were for 3 years, and with a quota to meet each of the three years, and the amount to be paid, plus the penalties for inability to meet demands. The mention you made of contract deadlines made me first think of southern/northern contracts before the war; whether the bids were ever open giving the south opportunity to supply the north.
Lubliner.
 
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