Creosote Council Blog

Century-Old Tracks: How Creosote Preserved a Beach Railroad Decades Beyond Its Operation

Century-Old Tracks: How Creosote Preserved a Beach Railroad Decades Beyond Its Operation

More than a century ago the wooden railroad ties of the Delaware Bay and Cape May Railroad traversed the sandy beaches of the New Jersey coast. They had just one job: to transport sand to the Cape May Sand Company for manufacturing glass and construction purposes. Its ties lay in direct sunlight all day, exposed to high temperatures and harsh salt water. The tracks were in service for 31 years, transporting hundreds of tons of quartz sand from 1905 until the plant was shut down in 1936 to...

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Wood Treatment in the 20th Century: Wood Preservation Takes Off Thanks to Empty-Cell Processes

Wood Treatment in the 20th Century: Wood Preservation Takes Off Thanks to Empty-Cell Processes

Following a century of experimentation in treating and preserving wood for industrial and transportation purposes in the U.S., at the turn of the 20th century Max Rüping and Cuthbert Lowry developed wood pressure-treatment methods that revolutionized the industry. The Rueping Process and the Lowry Process, which followed just four years later, were both “empty-cell” processes that used substantially less creosote than their predecessor, the Bethell Process. These joint innovations made wood...

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The Bethell Process: The Foundation of the Modern Wood Preservation Industry

The Bethell Process: The Foundation of the Modern Wood Preservation Industry

How did the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and Britain’s Industrial Revolution bring about the need for creosote-treated wood for modern infrastructure? Industrial-era wood treatment began with numerous innovations in Great Britain and took on its modern form as the American economy burst on the scene at the turn of the 20th century. Early Wood Treatment: France vs Britain (1700s – Early 1800s) One of the earliest practical applications of preserving wood was recorded in 1705 when a...

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The Origins of Las Vegas and Creosote-Treated Wood Go Hand in Hand

The Origins of Las Vegas and Creosote-Treated Wood Go Hand in Hand

How did the City of Las Vegas get its start? Certainly with the help of railroad crossties that could withstand the extreme conditions of the Mojave Desert due to treatment with creosote. It's a fascinating story that began at least 125 years ago. To learn the full story, read our article: How Creosote Fueled America’s Western Development and the Birth of Las Vegas

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Without Creosote-Treated Wood, Where Would the Southwest Be?

Without Creosote-Treated Wood, Where Would the Southwest Be?

How Creosote Fueled America's Western Development and the Birth of Las Vegas Background: Railroads and the Developing West Located just south of modern-day Los Angeles, the San Pedro harbor is emblematic of the Spanish missionary history of the United States’ west coast. In the early 19th century, Spanish monks from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel accepted provisions from Spain at San Pedro, although trade with other countries was prohibited. When restrictions ended in 1822, a surge of settlement...

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