Railroad Construction: Light Ties or Strong People?

I've had this image saved up for a while, so I do not remember the location of the construction. As far as I remember, the photograph was made somewhere in Siberia in the beginning of the 20th century. As you can see, gentlemen are holding railroad ties.


I websearched to find out how much these ties weigh, and here is what we got.



KD: What do you think? Are those light ties or some pretty strong people?
  • I don't see any delivery mechanism of delivery nearby. Did they hump this stuff in?


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Jun 19, 2021
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A bit of research suggests that with training an average man can carry about 145 pounds. So, these guys were either seriously fit or else mega tall individuals.
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  • jd755

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    Jan 8, 2021
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    Depends what tree the sleepers were actually made from. No way to tell obviously but seems the builders of the railroad used many different types. Here's some links.
    With the OP photograph at the top.
    WORKERS CARRYING SLEEPERS for the new railway through the dense rolling woods which are known as taiga. This name has lent itself to the town of Taiga, a junction on the Mid-Siberian section of the line. Through the taiga the railway engineers had to clear a way for the track before it could be levelled and graded.
    This is an abridged and edited version of an article first published in Russian by Dv.land
    As you can see there are six men required to unload/load a length of rail.

    The Chinese threat

    The isolation of its Asian territories is why St. Petersburg was scared when in the summer of 1890 it learnt about China’s plans for the construction of a railway to the periphery of the Russian Far East.
    China with the help of English engineers began to lay its railroad from Beijing to the North, to Manchuria and onward to the city of Hunchun, located at the junction of three countries: China, Russia and Korea, just 100 kilometers from Vladivostok.

    Curiously enough, the proposed Chinese railway from Beijing to the north, which scared Russia so much, was built several decades after the Trans-Siberian.

    At that time China had 400 million inhabitants, and the Russian regions bordering the country had a population of less than two million. In August 1890, the Russian Empire’s Foreign Minister Nikolay Girs said the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway was "of paramount importance.
    Dvlands article run through google translate.
    Just 40 years before the events described, it was China that owned the lands along the Amur and in Primorye. Only in the middle of the 19th century, taking advantage of the weak state power in Beijing, Russia was able to conclude a number of treaties with the Chinese that seriously changed the border in the Far East. Without the use of weapons and a single shot, our country included the lands that today make up the Amur Region, the Primorsky Territory, the Sakhalin Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region and most of the Khabarovsk Territory. These territories were 6,000 miles away from the European part of Russia. A century and a half ago it was possible to get from Moscow to the Amur in a horse-drawn carriage along the Siberian tract, spending at least 11 months on the road. The sea route from St. Petersburg to the shores of Primorye - around the whole of Europe, Africa and Asia - took six months. In fact, the Far East at that time was a distant and cut off from Russia "island". Therefore, almost immediately the question arose about the construction of a railway for new lands on the Amur and in Primorye. Before the founding of Vladivostok, there were still 6 years, when in 1854 the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia Muravyov-Amursky wrote to Tsar Nicholas I about the needs and prospects of the Far Eastern Territory: "In all likelihood, a railway will be built, the need for which will become urgent in a very short time." ...
    A slight aside
    What projects for the construction of the railway were offered by foreigners In 1857, the British engineer Dull and the American Collins proposed to St. Petersburg to organize an international joint-stock company Amurskaya Kompaniyskaya Railway. But in order to create a railway line from Nizhny Novgorod to the Pacific Ocean, foreigners demanded the right to perpetual ownership of the land on which it was supposed to run the road, as well as the exemption of the company from all taxes and duties. As a result, the Russian authorities abandoned such a project, rightly fearing that if it were implemented, the distant and not yet developed Russian land would be completely under foreign influence.
    A Briton and an American interfering in Russian affairs, colour me shocked!

    John Nada

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    Jan 21, 2021
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    It certainly appears that the railroad ties in the OP photo were drawn in, which raises one question...what were they carrying that was then covered by these cartoon railroad ties?


    New member
    Feb 17, 2021
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    It certainly appears that the railroad ties in the OP photo were drawn in, which raises one question...what were they carrying that was then covered by these cartoon railroad ties?
    Not only ties but the people themselves look drawn in...

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