🔎 UNIDENTIFIED Old Iron...something. Railroad related?

Chris717

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Sep 5, 2019
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Hello! My son and I were detecting around a 19th century railroad bed and we kept finding these in the ground. They appear to be iron but cannot figure out what they are or their purpose. They're pretty heavy and there were about a dozen of them within 20 feet of each other

Thanks for any assistance with the ID!
 

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pepperj

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Worked on the R/R for years unloading steel, replacing steel on the gangs,
Never seen anything related to your discovery.
It'll be interesting to read the ID of it.
 
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Chris717

Chris717

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Chris717

Chris717

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Sep 5, 2019
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South Central PA
Primary Interest:
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The maintenance idea makes sense to me. I went back out again this evening and I believe two rails intersect right there, maybe it has something to do with that also.

I am fortune to live very close to a steam engine association, I think I'll bring that out to their next steam show and see what they say.

Appreciate both of the comments.
 
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ANTIQUARIAN

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What first came to mind when I saw these was a worn-out... 'antique steam shovel teeth'? :icon_scratch:

Steam shovels and often referred to as ‘navvies’ in the UK – a name derived from the pick-and-shovel-wielding labourers who toiled in 19th century railway construction. The birth of the mechanical excavator used on land occurred in America when thousands of miles of railways across the country were needed. The 1835 steam shovel designed by William S Otis, and patented in 1839, is the earliest known, single-bucket excavator for use on land.

Otis was a partner in a firm of contractors which used its own machines for railway construction. When William Otis died of typhoid fever in 1839 at just 26, the shovel patents were strictly held by the family contracting business for over 40 years. But the machines were only built in small numbers. This was true in Great Britain, where almost all of the railways up to the early 20th century were built by hand-labour, supplemented with horses and mules.
 

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