120 Miles of Track in 2 Months: Where Did They Get All That Timber?

Author(s): Elizabeth Hora; Matt Bekker

Year: 2021


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Transitioning from Commemoration to Analysis on the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah: Papers in Honor and Memory of Judge Michael Wei Kwan" , at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Dendroprovenance testing has been commonly used to determine the species, provenance and cutting dates of wood from historical structures. We examined 60 core and cross-sectional wood samples from trestles, culverts, and crossties at sites across northwestern Utah, from Corinne to Lucin. Our study aims to track changes in raw material provenance on the western side of the Golden Spike, the track laid by the Central Pacific Railroad. Species were identified through macro and micro wood anatomy characteristics. Cutting or outer-ring dates were evaluated through comparison of ring-width patterns against existing tree-ring chronologies that overlap with the railroad period. Preliminary determination of provenance was evaluated through both comparison of ring-width patterns and strontium isotopes. We compared the data against bridge inspection reports from 1920 that indicated species used and dates of construction, to evaluate the accuracy of reported information, and to shed light on continual upgrades to railroad structures.

Cite this Record

120 Miles of Track in 2 Months: Where Did They Get All That Timber?. Elizabeth Hora, Matt Bekker. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459455)


Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology