[Updated May 23, 2012]
A large two engine train was crossing America. After they had gone some distance one of the engines broke down. “No problem!” the engineer thought, and carried on at half-power. Further on down the line, the other engine broke down, and the train came to a standstill. The engineer decided he should inform the passengers about why the train had stopped and made the following announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines have failed, and that we are stuck here for some time. The good news is that this is a train and not a plane.”
Railroads in America have a rich and colorful history. Before the car, airplane and Internet, Americans on either coast had no easy way to stay connected or transport goods. Enter the First Transcontinental Railroad, which after many decades in the making finally connected the east to the west, on May 10, 1869.
Because of the railroads, jobs were created, communities were connected and America experienced a population boom and a boost in economic growth. In fact, American economic historian Robert Fogel states that without the railroad, America’s gross national product would have been 7.2% less in 1890.
We’ve been fascinated ever since!
Railroads are made up of steel tracks, ties (made from wood, steel or pre-stressed concrete), crushed stone, and iron/steel railroad spikes. Each mile of track uses up to 3000 ties and there is 223,000 miles of track in the U.S. Depending on use, steel tracks can last up to 150 years. Wooden ties need to be replaced more often. More than 13 million crossties are removed from the railroad system each year. Many of these ties go to landscape companies; some even go to energy companies (in St. Louis, ties are used as fuel) and others are used as architectural elements.
Railroad parts are a natural source for upcycled products because of the history, beauty and durability. At Hipcycle, although we do not currently have products made from ties, we do have many made from the spikes.
The materials of our railroad parts products are reclaimed and repurposed materials that are recycled by a number of specialized RR companies. Reused, new ties wood ties are still used, spikes and anchors are refab and reused or recycled.
Creosote is used on railroad ties and wood products dipped in creosote at the factory. The steel has no creosote. There is little if any contact with creosote and wood and RR ties in the hardware used on the railroad.
In the finished upcycled product , there is no creosote residue on the steel surface. This steel hardware is sun baked, cleaned, acid washed, re-rusted, grinded and polished with other products to give them new life. No longer are of a bygone era, NOW they are upcycled into beautiful and nostalgic home décor.
Next time you're on a train, think about our rich history and if it breaks down... remember... at least you're not on a plane! Click here to view upcycled railroad parts products from Hipcycle.
What are your favorite upcycled railroad products? Comment below.
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