Antique Railroad Date Nails – Lot of 10

Common place in the late th century through the mid th century, Date Nails were driven into railroad ties, utility poles, bridge timbers, and other wooden structures for record keeping purposes. Today, Date Nails are highly sought after artifacts by Railroadiana collectors. Following the Civil War , the railroad race was in full swing. In one such race, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific would compete for government favor; with the line that built the most miles being rewarded with cash and land. In order to keep pace with this expansion, the timber needed to produce crossties was in high demand. Left untreated, wooden crossties had a life expectancy of only five to seven years. Based on the frenetic pace of laying new track and the subsequent demand of timber supplies, rail companies hatched the idea of treating the ties to increase their life expectancy. Not knowing which type of wood and treatment methods would be the most effective and economical, railroads began to experiment with varying treatments in the mid to lates. To monitor the results of differing test sections of crossties, railroads settled on the idea of using Date Nails for record keeping purposes.

Cross Tie Date Nails

Highway 79 where it passes the Texas Basket Factory, you may have noticed the many new railroad ties set alongside the tracks. During the early days of railroad construction, stone blocks, with wooden stringers running length-wise, supported the iron rail. Prison deliveries were so slow that construction foremen had their workers substitute wooden crossties taken from tree stands along the right of way. Turns out the wooden crossties produced a smoother ride, were readily available and far less expensive.

Wooden cross ties were here to stay. Bridge crews wove spidery trestles across streams and ravines.

I was told that the copper nails were used for marking telegraph poles instead of railroad ties. Does anyone have more information in regards to railroads using.

Briefly, a date nail is a nail with the date stamped in its head. For example, a nail with a “41” is from Date nails were driven into railroad ties, bridge timbers, utility poles, mine props, and other wooden structures for record keeping purposes. I concentrate primarily on the nails used by railroads. Most date nails are steel, though many are copper, aluminum, malleable iron, or brass.

The nail heads can be round, square, diamond, pentagon, as well as other rarer shapes. Over 2, different date nails were used by North American railroads which show the year. Add to that the nails which tell wood, treatment, and other information, and toss in all date nails used in poles and other timbers, and the total number of different nails from this continent easily exceeds 3, A typical date nail.

The date 18 is stamped in the head. Note the crude, somewhat faint diamond on the shank to the left of the anchor markings. It might look more like a horizontal blob on this nail. There is a standard notation to describe date nails. These and all other photos of single nails on these pages were taken by Tom Meyer.


This collection is founded on the premise of giving a loved one their birth year to wear on their sleeve. Due to the nature of this program we cannot guarantee the availability of every year. This item is temporarily out of stock. If there is a suggested Online Retailer s below, please visit their site to complete your purchase. Otherwise, to receive a notification when this item is available, please enter your email address below.

Between and , railroads placed date nails in ties to keep a record of the life of the ties. Utility companies followed later with the use of.

Printable version. Add to cart Add to wish list. Ask a question about this product. Date nails were driven into railroad ties, bridge timbers, and other wooden structures for record keeping purposes. The dates on the nail head tells the date the timbers were put into place. Over 2, different date nails were used by North American railroads, and utility and other companies also used them, making the kinds of different nails from this continent available to collectors easily over 3, There is even a national club related to date nail collecting.

All of our date nails come from either railroads or utility poles in the Plumas County area Western Pacific, various logging railroads, etc. Some have square heads and square shanks, while others have round heads and round shanks. Most are approx. We have numbers that are impressed into the head as well as numbers that are raised on the nail head. A unique, historical way to commemorate someones birth date! Stock is limited to what’s on hand – so please call to check date availability before ordering.

railroad date nails price guide

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Check out our railroad date nails selection for the very best in unique or custom, Free Shipping Railroad Tie Nails, Dated Railroad Nails, Train Track Nails.

Please use the navigational links on your left to explore our website. Railroad Tie Date Nails. Whats the oldest you have found? I was cleaning up around the place and decided this stack of old ties that my father had delivered here in the late 70’s, which he never used, needed to go to the burn pile. It was interesting sorting through the pile, there were some oak ties, oldest one had a ’30 nail in it, was oak, others were a needle bearing species, it looked like a fir species, all but one were just waterlogged and crumbling, parts of them were intact.

I was imagining what went over these all those years ago, mostly steam, but I did find ties with ’50 and ’54 nails. I always wondered what species they typically used for ties, the date nails are nostalgic for sure, I think I have all that came from this pile, hopefully the creosote is dissipated, they are on top of a huge brush pile, so they ought to burn good LOL!

UP just opened a new concrete tie-making facility in Iowa. UP is restoring one of their series “big-boy” steam locomotives more info at upsteam. I have ,8,9,10,16 all the 20s,up till But looking for a This is an article about the next town to the South of me. My farm drains into “Little Gravois” creek as they call it.

Most locals call it Blue Springs Creek.


Unusual collectibles hold fascination for many. Certainly barbed wire and brick collecting would be in this classification. There are some who specialize in aspects of transportation, such as railroads. Some collectors have a very wide variety of memorabilia, including tokens and date nails.

A date nail is a nail with the last two digits of the year stamped on its head that was used in railroad ties and other wooden structures to show.

I’ve never seen those before. Thanks for sharing. I had heard of them before but this is the first time I’ve managed to actually find any. Those are cool! I personally haven’t even seen or heard of them before, at least till now. Thank’s for posting them. You’re welcome, Kansas Dave. The number on the nail corresponds to the last 2 digits of the year.

Thanks, LMace and Siggi Palma. I’ve been trying to research the history of this railroad as well. There used to be a station about a half mile away. I’ve never heard of them, either. Why were nails used in railroad ties? I know about spikes, having worked maintenance on a scenic tourist railroad.

Date Nails

He returned the next morning at 2 o’clock. Wiswell and a friend who accompanied him, John Evans of Mountainside, N. Between and , railroads placed date nails in ties to keep a record of the life of the ties. Utility companies followed later with the use of date nails in their poles. The nailhead carries the date, often the last two figures of the year.

Spike is a railroad spikes dating railroad tie. Type like rusty steel railroad spikes were using date nails were driven into railroad spikes dating site flirting dating.

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