Through a finely tuned system of iron laying, the first railroad came to Salina in April of 1867. Long before Henry Ford introduced the assembly line, railroad construction used the same principles. Rapid, sure and systematic, track layers rolled out one to three miles of track a day with just simple hand tools and brute force.
Joint-tie men, working in sets of two, bedded a tie every 14 feet. Close behind, fillers bedded the remaining ties. Iron men or rust eaters, five per rail, precisely dropped the rails on each side of the roadbed. Track liners armed with crowbars perfectly aligned the rails. Spike peddlers divvied up spikes as the head spikers anchored the rail with six spikes. Back spikers finished spiking the rails while screwers or bolters screwed on the fishplates, thoroughly bolting the joints. Tampers leveled the track and filled spaces between ties with dirt and gravel ballast.
Railroad workers near Salina, date unknown.