Nail Notes--January 2005

Subject:  Nail Notes 1-28-05
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 10:04:21 -0500
From: Jeffrey Oaks <>

 #.###.#.#.###.## NAIL NOTES #.#.###.#.###.#.##

WE, <>, have been trying to sort out the type
(05) square nails in recent days.  As some of you may have seen, there
is a definite point difference in several of the type (05)’s.  As far as
I know this has never been fully looked at.  So at this point several
collectors are assisting in trying to sort all of this out.  So that
everyone is on the same page here I would like to show a scan that shows
the two distinct different styles of points used in the type (05) square

The diamond point is the one used by every nail company on its square
shanked nails. The point follows the contour of the shank itself to form
a normal diamond point. I have termed the other style, used only by the
Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., a "spear" point. While talking with Buz
Johnston one day we came up with this term and I feel it adequately
describes the point. It follows the contour of the shank and then is
offset by 45 degrees at the point.

At this juncture I am trying to determine what point was used on what
variety and year of (05) square nails. And where possible, trying to
find out what railroads or utilities used each particular nail. If you
check Jeff Oaks' cross listings in Vol. III you will see that the
Mississippi Central is credited with using the square raised from 30-44,
and with a few exceptions the Northern Pacific is credited with using
the square indents during the same period as a pole nail.  At this time
I have learned from Charles and Cheryl johnson of Montana that almost
all of the square indent, type (05) nails used by the Northern Pacific
had the "spear" point. Also found by them was a 1946:c (05) square
indent that had a diamond point!  This is not shown in the books, and is
attributed to the Great Northern as a pole nail!!

So at this point I am appealing to collectors to let me know what nail
they have, square raised or indented type (05), and what point is on
that nail. Even more helpful would be to know who used that nail. But
please be certain that you pulled it or have first hand knowledge of it
being pulled before you attribute a user to that particular nail. Once
an association is made to a particular nail it is very hard to undo that
association. So I would like to get it right the first time around! <;>)

I would really appreciate some response from all the collectors out
there that remain unheard from to this point! Thanx. [ed.]


Here is a major item sent from Charles and Cheryl Johnson
<> of Kila, MT:

When Cheryl and I are not out nail hunting, I have to return to my real
job in life as superintendent for Flathead County Road and Bridge
Department, here in Montana. The Bridge Department had acquired some
bridge timbers from BNSF that had come off of one of the Great Northern
lines. These timbers were 8 inches thick by 2 feet wide and 16 feet
long. We received roughly two semi-truck loads of them. While examining
them, I noticed some metal tags 2" X 2" secured to the ends of these
timbers. In addition to the tags, there were also some timbers that had
stampings that indicated a GN number 330 and also another number B 73 on
opposite ends from where the tags were placed. On the end with the tag
was also a stamped number into the wood that corresponded with the
number of the tag. These metal tags, 51 in all, started with T3 and
ended with T11. However, the majority of the tags sported the number of
T4, 30 of them to be exact.

Now, while out nail hunting we’ve tried to examine a lot of the bridges
for nails and tags. But until recently we had never found anything to
indicate that the GN had marked their bridges with either nails or tags,
although we had seen these kinds of stampings on many of the timbers in
bridges currently in use. On a trip a month ago to eastern Montana, I
found many 31s placed in bridge pile caps on a GN trestle located at
Spring Creek Junction, Montana. Now, here these tags show up on definite
bridge timbers with GN stamping on them. The unfortunate thing is that
none of the railroad workers seemed to know where these timbers had come
from. They had been stacked in the rail yard in Whitefish, Montana prior
to the merger between GN & Burlington, and they were just happy to get
rid of them. As I talk to some of the older railroad workers in the
future, maybe we can get a better handle on what bridge they came from.

All these timbers are made of Tamarack. That could possibly be what the
T stands for. And one would naturally assume that the number behind the
T could possibly be related to the year that the timber was treated, but
that is only a guess at this point. Could these tags indeed have
indicated the type of wood and the year of treatment? If so, why didn’t
they use the same date nail lettering system that they had in place for
ties that were being treated? Or, were these bridge timbers treated
someplace different than where the ties were treated and they came up
with their own dating system? Or, just for the sake of conversation,
could there be a T3 nail in ties that has yet to be found and reported?
Or, do these tags have another meaning all together? Some of the
conversations have led to the speculation that they were used like code
nails on other railroads, but maybe further examination of other bridges
while we are nail hunting will lead to solving this puzzle. Never the
less, the GN did, at least at one point, use tags and/or nails to mark
at least some of their bridges.


This email from a new contributor, Brian Gregg <>. The
inclosed photos include the Eagle Tunnel, the pole nail is just north of
Glencoe, KY. The stubby pole nail shown has a one inch shank:

I found my first pole nails on 11-6-04 on the CSX (L&N) CC Sub near the
Falmouth KY area. I found 2 that day. Those being a 34 and a 42. I also
found 2 tie nails that day that were cast over the bank. The one that
really surprised me was a 17 that my son Tyler found that was about 3
feet from the Licking River. The other was a 39.

On 11-29-04, I was headed back from our shop at work and decided to look
around the CSX (L&N)Shortline for pole nails. I ended up finding 3 1940
pole nails between Sparta and Glencoe KY. One pole that I found a nail
in had been cut about a foot above the nail. They had replaced it with a
newer pole. I had been driving past these now for the last 4 years
regularly and never thought to take time and look around that area.

I decided that my son and I would go back on 12-4-04 and look for more.
We started just north of Glencoe, KY along the roadway and within the
first few poles we looked at we found our first. We went all the way
into Worthville and found eleven 40 pole nails. On the way back we
stopped at Eagle Tunnel to look around at some more poles and ended up
finding 2 more for a total of 13 for the day and 16 for the week. All
the 40 nails were type (19) steel 2" shanks but one. I found one nail
that had a 1" shank with a head on it that was not as round as any

Thank You

Brian Gregg


Bruce Gordon <> is hosting the next TDNCA date
nail show to be held in Shelbyville, Kentucky. It is set to go on March
4-5, 2005. On Friday, the 4th, the hours will be 8AM-6PM and Saturday
from 8AM-3PM.

The admission is free (as in NO CHARGE!!). Tables are available for
$25.00 each. The address for this event is the Waldridge Center, Burks
Branch Road (Park Access#1), Shelbyville, KY 40065. Bruce Gordon can
also be contacted at:

5249 Taylorsville Road, Finchville, KY 40022.

This show will include not only date nails but other railroadiana
including Timetables, Lanterns, Locks, Keys and other railroad
artifacts. Should be lots of fun there and if true to form for the past
few shows held in the east there should be a good turnout.

More details on motels and directions should be available in the next
Nail Notes.


With sadness we heard of the passing of Harold Hurd, an old time nail
collector fromm Ridgely, TN. Harold had number 746 with the Texas Date
Nail Collectors Association. We received a Christmas card from Harold
last year so gave a call this year to learn of his passing last March.


For those collecting the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. set of nails. The
2005 (10) nail will be used this year, continuing that series used by
them since 1982. (See scan of this nail)


Bruce Gordon <> started his New Year off right.
He went out nail hunting and found a couple of LH&StL nails in some
fence posts. Pretty good finds.


A correction to the Boston and Albany set of nails has been reported.
The listing of the 1924 (11) 2 1/2 x 1/4 round raised, malleable iron
nail should be changed to read indent. In Jeff's books the correction
should be made in Vol. 1, page 109.

and in Vol. III, page 180.

The listings should read as follows:

2 1/2 x 1/4 round indent, mi (11) used by Boston and Albany, Seaboard Airlines

2 1/2 x 1/4 round raised, mi (11) used by Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
and second hand ties on the Prattsburgh.

The need for this correction was noted by John Iacovino who pulled
several of the 24 indents on the Bo&Al. and the raised 24's from the DL&W.


One last item before these Notes go out. Tom Meyer
<> recently traded with for a box of nails from
the far north. All of the nails in the box he received were Grand Trunk
nails. In the lot were four 1948 type (09) 1 1/2 x 1/4 round raised,
steel nails. Tom found this very interesting as they are not listed in
the books as being Grand Trunk.

In fact they are not listed in the books at all! Tom has asked several
other old time collectors and they have this nail in their Grand Trunk
set. The Grand Trunk used this variety and size nail for many years and
is almost a signature nail for that railroad. Without a doubt I believe
that this nail should be added to the Grand Trunk set of nails. Nice
find Tom.


Don"t forget to attend the next NAIL SHOW in Shelbyville, KY on March
4-5, hosted by Bruce Gordon. Contact Bruce at <>

Also don’t forget to submit Date Nail articles and stories to <>

Thanks!  ---Rolland

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