"This is a cool example of early railroad technology. It's nothing glamorous, but someone would probably pay $2,000 for it."



  • Fact 1: Railroad companies must perform frequent and careful inspections of tracks and equipment to prevent mechanical failures. Each year, US railway companies spend millions of dollars on inspection.
  • Fact 2: After a catastrophic 1911 train derailment in Manchester, New York which killed 29 passengers, states began legislating the inspection of rail lines.
  • Fact 3: Early rail inspections were done by hand, with workers walking the line and visually spotting cracks and defects. Mirrors like this one helped inspectors see obscured rail parts.
  • Fact 4: Most modern rail inspection is done through ultrasound, x-ray or magnetic sensory equipment.
  • Fact 5: In 1927, Dr. Elmer Sperry of the American Railway Association developed a large inspection car that used magnetic induction to sense flaws in the metal rails.

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