Creosote Council Blog

How Creosote-Treated Crossties Turned Cowboys into Legends

How Creosote-Treated Crossties Turned Cowboys into Legends

At the start of the 19th century, there was no Texas as we know it today. Rather, west of Louisiana—the French colony-turned-state at the conclusion of the War of 1812—was a dry and rugged patchwork of native American and Mexican-held lands. After two rounds of war with Mexico and a period of independence, Texas became a U.S. state in 1845. This was fortuitous timing, for the most critical innovation in wood preservation technology, the Bethell pressure treatment method, had just been invented...

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In Brief: The Development of Railways and Creosote-Treated Crossties

In Brief: The Development of Railways and Creosote-Treated Crossties

Crosstie wood preservation methods have been vital to the development of railway transportation, infrastructure, and supply chains around the world. This timeline illustrates the role that coal-tar creosote and other wood preservatives have played in economic development through the years. For a more complete description of this history, visit our page, Timeline: A History of Creosote Wood Preservation. "Kyanizing" in the Early 1800s In 1832, John Howard Kyan patented the first popular wood...

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What Is Coal-Tar Creosote Used in Wooden Infrastructure?

What Is Coal-Tar Creosote Used in Wooden Infrastructure?

“Creosote” Used in Wood Preservation, Explained In the United States, the term “creosote” is pretty confusing. There are many substances referred to as “creosote,” which makes it hard to figure out which type has been used for over a hundred years to preserve wood infrastructure - notably, wood crossties that support railroad tracks. Sometimes the type of creosote used in wood preservation is called “coal-tar creosote” to indicate that it’s formed by burning coal. Another common description,...

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Railways and Crossties Connect Baseball and Fruit to America

Railways and Crossties Connect Baseball and Fruit to America

By the early 20th century, a shared national identity was emerging in America. Fresh fruit and baseball would become a part of this new reality, fueled by the railroads and crossties that increasingly connected Florida to the rest of the nation.  In the first half of the 19th century, commodities and experiences in the United States were localized, varying greatly from town to town and state to state. But localization was not to last, as newly minted railroads and their creosote-treated...

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Coal-tar Creosote Puts Trees to Work, Bringing Energy and the Internet to Millions

Coal-tar Creosote Puts Trees to Work, Bringing Energy and the Internet to Millions

Believe it or not, there is an internet meme about utility poles. It “went viral” in 2018 because it was both funny and thought-provoking. It was just a thought posted in a Reddit forum, lacking any visuals: “Telephone poles are trees that cleaned up and got a job.” It has received over 40 thousand up-votes, the Reddit equivalent of “likes”.  And what a job they do! To think that people found a way to capitalize on all the time and energy trees have already spent becoming large...

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