Tie Hack Memorial

Skidding ties in the winter

 

Located approximately 12 miles northwest of Dubois, Wyoming, along the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway, the Tie Hack Memorial is dedicated to the hard-working men and their families whose sweat and toil contributed to the first transcontinental railroad linking our country from coast to coast.

Ties were made from trees hacked and cut by hand....hence the name "tie hack." Tie hacks were a special breed of loggers who could quickly fell, limb a tree, and fashion the tie down to the specifications demanded. A horse and wagon hauled the ties out to specific spots where ties would be stacked. Often the cutting was done in the winter because it was easier to strip off bark and drag ties over the snow. Tie hacks were paid 12 cents per tie in 1913, which grew to 30 cents in the 1930s. By World War II tie hacks earned almost 50 cents per tie. An efficient tie hack cutting 50 ties could earn $25 a day.

In the early days, ties were delivered to the railroad by floating them down the Wind River on the annual "long walk to Riverton." This walk took place just after the Wind River peaked in spring runoff so the ties would move swiftly downstream, but it was dangerous and difficult. Wooden water channels (which can still be seen in the area) called flumes were built to carry logs down steep canyon sides to await downriver transport.

Ties were released into the river current along with a driver who poled the ties down river. Poor timing and high water could result in injuries, drownings, and an entire season of timber cutting lost. 

Tie drives and tie hacks disappeared, being replaced by gas powered sawmills, sawyers, cutters, and skidders that pulled the logs to a mill. Railroads closed as the trucking industry flourished and gasoline was cheap. With no market for railroad ties, the business died.





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