Cross Ties of the future may be made of glass


Publication: St. Louis Globe-Democrat

St. Louis, MO, United States
vol. 10, no. 75, p. 6, col. 2

The Cross-Tie of the Future.

[From the Houston Post.]


The Rumbler sat down yesterday evening on the shady side of the Union Depot to get cooled off. his exuberant fancy was attracted by a green glass insulator on one of the Western Union telegraph poles, which commenced to crack its sides with laughter.

"What are you crackling about?" asked a surly old cross-tie on the International and Great Northern Road.

"Because you've got the dry-rot so bad," said the green glass insulator, "that your toes are turning up."

"I'd have you understand," said the cross-tie, "that I am much stronger in the back than any of you kind, and have held up enough weight in my time to break the backs of all the glass factories in creation."

"You catch on fire every time a spark from the locomotive gets in your back hair," continued the little glass insulator.

"You're so little you daren't crack a joke, for fear of breaking up your constitution," retorted the cross-tie.

"But I've got big brothers who are not little," said the green glass insulator, "and they are going to take your place and hold up the rails, and the locomotives and the big freight trains, after you are dead and rotten."

"Glass does very well to hold whiskey, to put on back fences to keep tom cats from climbing over them, or for girly girls to dress by," replied the cross-tie, "but when it comes to anything sunstantial, like the work I'm doing, your kind of material is entirely too thin."

"Don't they make car wheels out of me now?" yelled the glass insulator, green with anger.

"Yes, toy car-wheels, for children to play woth," answered the cross-tie.

"Don't they pave areas on banquettes over cellars with slabs of me!" howled the little glass insulator, gritting its teeth against the telegraph wire that passed through its transparent bosom.

"That's true," admitted the cross-tie; "but your constitution is too frail to stand such hard work as railroading."

Just then a boy came along with a nigger-shooter and let fly at a bird that was perched on the telegraph pole. The missile missed the bird but struck the little glass insulator on its abdomen and broke up the conversation, and the little green glass insulator likewise.

Thereat a paper car wheel on one of the trucks of a passenger coach near by began to chuckle and said:

"When wood is played out my family will furnish the cross-ties of the future."

"You'll do very well for furnishing dudes with shirt fronts and collars, or making stuffing for dolls, but you can't hold up anything, except when you hold a man up to ridicule in the daily papers," growled the old oak cross-tie.

Then the paper car wheel got its back up and ran right over the old oak cross-tie, and there was no telling what the cross-tie might have done if a couple of steel rails hadn't held it down so tight it could not budge.

The Rumbler went up town and met Master Mechanic W. S. Morris, of the Missouri Pacific, in Mose Raphael's ticket office, and told him about the debate between the old oak cross-tie and the little green glass insulator and the paper car wheel.

"Our forests are getting cleaned out rapidly," said Mr. Morris, "and the question of supplying the place of wood with some cheaper and more durable substitute for cross-ties is becoming the main thought that bothers the heads of railroad builders. In such States as Texas this matter is particularly the subject of pressing consideration. Wood is scarce in this State, and becoming scarcer every year. It is no exaggeration to estimate the cost all round of the ties now in use in the various roads in Texas at 50 cents a piece. We estimate 8,500 ties to the mile.There are over 6,000 miles of rails in the State and it takes 21,000,000 cross-ties to hold them up. About six years is the average life of a tie. Who can tell, with the extensive denuding of forests everywhere that is being caused by saw-mills, ship building, house building and the thousand and one other uses to which lumber is applied, not to speak of the immense amount of wood consummed for fuel, what the cost of a cross-tie will be six years from now? Modern science will have to bridge the difficulty, and it is highly probable that the cross-tie of the future will be of glass, vulcanized fiver or paper made impervious to climatic influence."


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:July 18, 2008 by: Bob Stahr;