Students help lay railway

Two classes from the railroad engineering school at the University of Illinois received some hands-on experience as they helped lay 500 feet of track at the Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello on Oct. 13. The track is being installed for the museum’s new car barn.

Students learned about measuring correct spacing while setting out ties for new track, gauging the rail and spiking down the rail with tie plates. The classes were led by Christopher Barken, director of the railroad engineering program; and Donald Uzarski, adjunct professor specializing in track construction.

Students also were taught how to identify track parts by their weight and profile and just how heavy those components are. They also learned how much time and labor can be saved with the latest machinery versus pounding each spike with a mallet as the students did that day.

The visitors served as “Gandy Dancers,” the traditionally nickname for track layers.


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