About the Santa Fe Historical Society

Santa Fe Rail

The Santa Fe laid its first steel rails in 1876. They were probably #56 or
#60. By 1900 the railroad was laying #75, then #85 in time to be used on the
Belen Cutoff, and #90 was used by 1910. By the mid Twenties, #112 then #115
was in use until #131 became standard.

Santa Fe practice was to buy only the heaviest rail standard and lay it on
the main line somewhere. If new rail replaced old rail, the old rail was
lifted and relaid on a secondary line. The old rail from the secondary line
would be reused for yards and sidings. A particular rail might have been
used in a half dozen places. That is why a section of 1876 rail was recently
discovered in service in a siding of a line built in 1910.

Another practice: When a line was relaid with heavier rail, the rail in old
passing tracks would be removed and the old track would be moved over a few
feet to become the new siding.

Other railroads used "A" rail, but not the Santa Fe. "A" rail was rolled
from the tops of steel ignants, where bubbles collected in the molten metal.
This type of rail was inferior and was used for yard tracks. But the Santa
Fe had plenty of hand-me-down rail for yards, so that steel was instead
rolled into tie plates.

Tie plates began being used about 1900 only on grades and curves. Within a
decade they were being installed on all ties.

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