Sunset at the Tie Hack Monument.
Sunset at the Tie Hack Monument.

Tie Hack Monument

Field review by the editors.

Dubois, Wyoming

As mighty railroad lines grew and crisscrossed 19th and early 20th century America, railroad ties were a vital element supporting thousands of miles of tracks. Ties didn't just grow on trees. Wait -- they did. But you needed beefy woodsmen (mostly Scandanavian and Irish immigrants) to chop, slice and dice the timber -- called "tie hacking."

Tie Hack Monument.

In places like Wyoming's Togotee Pass, two men working a cross cut saw would eyeball where to cut -- each tie was 8 1/2 ft. long. They'd skid the ties down mountain slopes or drag them by horse or mule, and float them downriver. Ties ended up on rails for the Chicago, Northern Pacific railroads. Tie hackers were in big demand from 1880-90 and again from 1910-1940 as each year the nation's railroads required millions of ties.

In 1946, the Wyoming Tie & Timber Company paid tribute to generations of woods and river workers with the Tie Hack Memorial. The memorial sits atop a bluff overlooking the Wind River, where ties once floated. The 12 ft. tall limestone relief was carved by Boris Gilberston and portrays a rugged tie hack clutching a broad-head ax; in the background there's a cross cut saw and other workers cutting and moving ties.

Eventually the manual work of the Tie Hacks was replaced by powered sawmills. Then railroads were supplanted by highways. Then Dubois lost all of its lumber mills. Today the tie hack monument is easy to miss, as is the region's once proud hack heritage.

Tie Hack Monument

US Hwy 26, Dubois, WY
18 miles west of downtown Dubois on US Hwy 26/287. The monument stands on a high bluff on the south side of the highway. Look for the large pullout.
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May 29, 2020

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