# How Long Is A Rail?

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I have come across the term "rail" as a unit of distance on several datasheets but I am unclear as to how long a rail is. Does this represent a standard unit of measure? See MZ0075

look for where the rails are welded together. each rail is welded on both ends. you should be able to figure it out from there.

A 'rail' is being used as a unit of measurement. The length varies from company to company and line to line but it is generally 33-39 feet. Due to newer construction methods, modern tracks can have rails that are much longer. Check these threads for additional info...

How long is a rail?

Unit of measurement: Rail?

Lights and Rails

Length Of A Rail, Old or esoteric measurement: rail

- Kewaneh

Speaking of railroad terms, I ran across a description for a station which was "xxx feet from the west rail and yyy feet from the tack guard."

What's a "tack guard"?

-Paul-

What's a "tack guard"?

It maybe a typo error and was supposted to be a track guard which I presume to be a derailer on a side track.

Edit: Speking of typos.

Around here I've not seen distances in rails, but quite often they are in "poles" from a mile post. I had a lot of confusion between that and the historical land surveyor's poles or rods = 16.5 feet until my brother the track inspector set me straight.

These are telegraph poles along the right of way, which were set at fairly a well controlled distance. Most common was probably 40 poles to the mile, or 132 feet, but some rail lines used up to 48 poles to the mile.

What's a "tack guard"?

It maybe a typo error and was supposted to be a track guard which I presume to be a derailer on a side track.

I'm going to agree with the typo hypothesis. A google search of 'tack guard' turns up virtually nothing, but 'track guard' turns up a definition with some substance. According to US Patents, a 'Track Guard' is a 'Device for use upon railroads designed to prevent animals from passing along the tracks and incapable of use as a gate to permit the passage of the animal.' Also 'a closure which moves to an inoperative position flush with the ground, such as a railroad track, to permit a train to ride over it.'

This definition was found on the Patentec.com website.

- Kewaneh

Around here I've not seen distances in rails, but quite often they are in "poles" from a mile post. I had a lot of confusion between that and the historical land surveyor's poles or rods = 16.5 feet until my brother the track inspector set me straight.

These are telegraph poles along the right of way, which were set at fairly a well controlled distance. Most common was probably 40 poles to the mile, or 132 feet, but some rail lines used up to 48 poles to the mile.

It's true that the telegraph poles were set at a controlled distance, but that distance varied from line to line. The active distance was determined by the height of the poles and the type and quantity of the wires that were to be suspended (ie: more wires = more weight = closer poles). While a surveyor's 'rod' is 16.5 feet long, and a 'chain' is 66 feet, a 'pole', when used in this type of description, was not a set distance. When the surveyors were using poles as a descriptive call to a mark, they were most likely just counting the poles and not assuming the poles to be set at a specific distance.

That being said, in any area where there is a long uninterupted telegraph line, it can be assumed that the poles were set at an equal distance along that line. The best way to determine the distance between poles for a particular line would be to find evidence or remains of the pole line and measure the distance between them. (I know in some areas this may be difficult. In my area, many of the century-old telegraph lines remain in place today, although nearly all have been abandoned.)

For those of you who may be interested in learning more about the origins of surveyor's rods & poles, 'The Surveyors Rod - A value expressed in wood' is a good read. It is from the surveyor's trade magazine P.O.B.

- Kewaneh

In several descriptions of benchmarks along railroads, I have noticed for example: Milepost 508/24. What is the meaning of "24"? It the same as .24? As in 24/100 of a mile? In my area the mileposts are only marked every quarter mile.

Thanks for the clarification (tack vs. track guards). That reading of the description makes more sense.

-Paul-

robtnort,

In the case of 508/24, it is likely to mean the distance from each end of the line. 508 miles to one end, and 24 from the other at that particular location, depending on the direction you are facing.

1/100th of a mile is 52.8 feet. Not a real useful reference for much, though we do commonly use the tenth of a mile, 528 ft... On the 1/1000 scale, 5.28 ft is an attractive height for some people, but we don't generally reference them like that, we are just happy they come in that size!

Or, would you believe that it could also mean 21 and 17/24ths? Well, Roughly... :-)

Paul,

Tack Guard... C'mon... Add the definition to your Glossary... It is what you wipe your feet on to avoid tacky goo on the shoe before walking into momma's house after bench mark huntin'... ((I thought you knew!) Shhh! I won't tell the others...)

(Edited to repair decimal points placed prior to being fully coffee'd up!)

Rob

Edited by evenfall
In several descriptions of benchmarks along railroads, I have noticed for example: Milepost 508/24. What is the meaning of "24"? It the same as .24? As in 24/100 of a mile? In my area the mileposts are only marked every quarter mile.

It means the 'telegraph/telephone' pole will have the mile designation of mile 508 on it and the pole number of 24. It may or may not have the word 'mile' on the tag.

The pole will have both numbers on it.

Hope this clarifies things a bit,

John

I agree with Evenfall, that milepost 508/24 will have both numbers on it--508 on one side and 24 on the other. The post is 508 miles from town X and 24 miles from town Y. The are not necessarily the end of the line--one of the two is most likely the railroad's hometown.

Although it can't be seen in the picture, the milepost in this find LY0259 had two separate numbers on it.

Finding mileposts can sometimes be difficult, especially if the railroad is active and has merged. Often the distances would change, significantly or slightly and the mileposts would be removed or their mileage designations covered. In my area none of the old Reading Railroad markers can be found--the merger into Conrail changed the base of measurement and the markers were replaced. The old Pennsylvania Railroad markers remain however. Here is milepost 113 on the old PRR (measured from Philadephia), with a new sign attached to it.

KW0880

I have seen these old metal mileposts with a new, reflective marker bolted over the raised lettering of the cast iron too.

Speaking of railroad terms, I ran across a description for a station which was "xxx feet from the west rail and yyy feet from the tack guard."

What's a "tack guard"?

-Paul-

In regards to the track guard, it could also be a reference to a guard rail. See this page for guard rail info: http://home.comcast.net/~daletherail/defin...sGuardRail.html

Thanks, Rob......The dictionary of benchmark hunting terms is now complete!

Calif. Bear: Thanks for your input on Guard Rails!

-Paul-

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