the outward track (which was the first one built) was laid a wall of boulder (or slate) stone, about four feet in height for the entire length of the road, making fifty miles in all. Across the tops of these walls were laid the granite ties, solid and substantial, that should never wear out or decay.
did not but other things
did. Upon the ties (in which were drilled two holes near either end and these plugged with wood), were placed the iron rails of the ‘fish belly’ type.
The rails were (in section) like a letter T, the top about 2 1/4 inches wide and the upright section which gave support to the top varying in width, being the narrowest at the supporting points where this section rested in an iron casting called a ‘chair.’
Through two holes in each of these chairs were driven wrought iron spikes into the wooden plugs of the stone ties.
Railroads had been built ere this with strap iron spiked on timber rails, the effect of the rolling wheels on the top side of the iron was to curve the same and loosen it also; and an unpleasant feature of primitive railway travel was the ‘snake's head,’ or end of a loosened rail punching through the floor of the car, to the passengers' discomfort not to say danger of impalement.
The stone ties were about eight feet long and a foot wide; generally nine or ten inches in thickness, and were roughly split and slightly dressed, to receive the base of the iron chairs.
One of these may be seen in Wood-brook
Cemetery in Woburn
, with a section of one of the original rails and chair bolted upon it. It marks the grave of Waterman Brown
, who was employed in the construction of the railway, was later an employee of the company and lost an arm in its service, and ever afterward was continued in its employ.
Being a man of natural gifts and a close observer of mechanical matters, he constructed a set of models of the first engines, cars (both passenger and freight), a pile driver with its tread mill for hoisting the hammer, and other railroad appliances, which is a most instructive exhibit of the early days of railroad enterprise in Massachusetts