A sharp-eyed reader pointed out to me a math error on page 10.

.583 ft. X .75 ft. X 9 ft. = 3.94 board feet/tie

3.94 board feet X 3,249 ties per mile = 12,786 board feet of lumber per mile of track.

3,249 ties per mile X 11,500 miles of track = 37,363,500 ties = 147,039,000 board feet of timber

Multiplying the 0.583′ x 0.75′ x 9′ dimensions gives 3.94 cubic feet of wood per tie, but this then needs to be multiplied by 12 board feet / cubic foot to arrive at 47.28 board-feet per tie.

47.28 board feet X 3,249 ties per mile = 153,613 board feet of lumber per mile of track.

1.8 billion board feet of lumber for ties.

No matter how you cut it (pun intended) that is a lot of wood dedicated to building railroad tracks, and it does not take into account ties needed for replacement. Railroads were as dependent on loggers to build their track as loggers were on railroads to haul the timber and finished products to market. Shipping depended on wood either as crates, railcars, or crossties.

Math was never my strong suit and I beg the readers’ forgiveness for the error.


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