Railroad ties about to be heated by fire
and then twisted and bent to make them useless
That statement gets thrown around a lot. “The first time in history”; just what the heck is that supposed to mean? The first time in whose history and just how do you know what the history is? Well, the reason I ask this question is because today while searching for a certain “You Tube” that I haven’t been able to locate, I stumbled across a video (that I’m not going to post) with a discussion about the circumstances of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 of 2001. The hostess was exclaiming that it was physically impossible for the buildings to have fallen without the help of explosive devices and for the “First time in history fire had melted steel”.
I took a deep breath and thought to myself this must be some type of expert on metallurgy and that everything that I have learned about steel in my whole entire life was a complete lie. I started packing up all my books on metallurgy and my Machinery’s Handbook along with all my scientific instrumentation handbooks and I started to head to the trashcan with all my books. I had determined that this person on TV knew so much about this subject that in order to be taken so seriously by so many that I must be wrong and so were the authors of the books I was about to toss in the trash can.
I then stopped for a moment and I thought again to myself; let me go across the street to my neighbor Jim and have a talk with him maybe he could straighten me out. Jim is a retired welder from the steel mill that many of my neighbors work at not five miles from house. I asked Jim ”how in the heck do they melt steel down at the steel mill Jim?” My neighbor Jim is a very nice fellow and sometimes believes me to be a bit eccentric but we understand each other and are good neighbors and friends. Jim just stood there and looked at me incredulously when I asked him that question about how they melt steel at the steel mill. Jim said they use heat; they melt steel with heat he said. Jim also asked me "are you OK?" Jim seemed like he was a bit worried about me.
I told Jim why I was asking him this question. I said I had heard on a TV show in the morning that “for the first time in history fire had melted steel”. Jim shook his head and told me don’t believe everything you hear on that infernal box and he went back to what he was doing. Jim was welding a piece of steel and as I was walking back across the street to my house I thought to my self yea, Jim is probably right. I shouldn’t believe everything I hear on TV.
The neckties were created in accordance with an explicit order from Sherman in his Atlanta Campaign, dated July 18, 1864:
...twisting the bars when hot. Officers should be instructed that bars simply bent may be used again, but if when red hot they are twisted out of line they cannot be used again. Pile the ties into shape for a bonfire, put the rails across and when red hot in the middle, let a man at each end twist the bar so that its surface becomes spiral.
*Update* See what Popular Mechanics has to say about the statement "for the first time in history fire has melted steel"
Fame is a fickle food
Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set.
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the Farmer's Corn--
Men eat of it and die.