Date nails

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun Dec 10 21:26:49 EST 2017

Hey Jeff

The last date nails applied, from my understanding, were the 1959 nails, which were applied only to bridge timbers I was told. The 1960 nails were made, and on hand at Material Management when the decision was made to discontinue them, that is why 1960 nails are still out there.

The nails were manufactured by one of several companies for the N&W.

The true story, and perhaps even way more than you want was done by Professor Jeff Oaks and wrote the book on, which is now out of print, but he has it available for download at:

The nails were put in every single tie, at a location specified in the standards drawing of them.

N&W started using date nails on the opening of the Radford Tie Treatment plant in mid 1921, with 1921 nails. There was certainly plans done for specific sections of tie replacement, that might have been covered under Purchase Authorities or VPA, Vice President Authority. Finding specific locations for dates, might be very difficult.

An example, almost 40 years ago, I started looking for the nails, and walked a lot of track, you could do that in those days, not now. I noted a bunch of 1920s nails in cross ties on the VGN connecting track at VN or west Salem, which I know was put in during late 1959, so obviously, they were using relay ties for the new construction, almost 20 years before. I’ve not been down and looked that that track that closely in 30 years now, but I bet not a single tie has a date nail in it, all have been replaced since.

I suspect that virtually all the ties on the mainline today have no nails, and I strongly remind folks that it is trespassing and quite frankly theft, and the railroad is very picky about both of those these days. 

Ken Miller

On Dec 10, 2017, at 3:44 PM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:

> I have some questions about date nails.
> 1 What year did the N&W stop using date nails?
> 2 Where did the N&W get there date nails from, manufacturer, made in house?
> 3 When date nails were put down into the ties, how many ties were there between date nails?
> 4 With the use of date nails, are there any tie replacement documents on this subject.
> Thank you for any help.
> Jeff Wood
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