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Railway sleepers

Wednesday 13 August 2014

In the course of some work I have been doing lately, I have been seeing a lot of railway sleepers. I can’t look at them without thinking about the work of cutting, carting and installing them.

stacks of new sleepers in the Aurizon depot at Emerald, Queensland. They look like they have been sawn from fairly small trees, and the coloured stripes across the ends suggest that some of them have been mechanically stress-graded.

I have a sleeper-cutter’s broad axe. Picking it up is a good way to remind myself how sedentary my life is, and how soft the skin on my hands.

A compilation of documentary films made in the 1920s and 1930s about timber getting in Western Australia. A piece entitled The sleeper cutter, about hand hewing of railway sleepers, starts at 9:15.

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