Frogs Bearing Flanges Come to EaDo
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:09 PM
The following guest post was written by Margaret O'Brien-Molina, senior media specialist.
Amazing progress as I look downtown and to the extensions being built to the Main St. (Red) Line. Amazing because it's happening fast, and amazing because it's such complicated work. This transit evolution is introducing a whole new vocabulary to people like me who expect nothing more of trains than a clean seat and an on-time arrival.
When I took the job of telling the story of METRO's rail expansion program, I was asked if I spoke Spanish. I said "yes," before I knew I'd be challenged to decipher the work in my primary language, English. The real test came as I decided to introduce a frog that's built into Turnout No. 8 in front of Dynamo Stadium. There are 52 "special track work" items on the project - shown are eight of the 52. The frog and associated components weigh a whopping 17,000 pounds and are 78 feet long.
Our contractor HRT says this special track-work in front of the Dynamo Stadium will allow trains to travel to the East End (Green) Line or the Southeast (Purple) Line from downtown.
An important job, to be sure, still I was surprised to hear what the steel rail had to go through to earn its place on our light-rail system. The frog in the turnout was subjected to "explosive hardening." Dynamite, huh? It's unfortunate our engineers couldn't make it hop or turn into a prince.
To add insult to injury, the turnout is commonly called a "switch," but the switch is in the front part of the turnout. What? Okay, back to the basics. The frog was made in Decatur, Ill. The rail was made in Pueblo, Colo., and everything was then machined, and assembled in Birmingham, Ala. It got blasted here in the U.S.A., too, but I'm not sure which state is responsible.
Finally, the word "frog" does not refer to an amphibian. No, the origin of the term "frog," as used in the railroad industry, is the part of a horse's hoof it most closely resembles. Holy Toledo! Maybe a blacksmith decided to bang out some railroad track on his off-time. When I go to my Spanish/English dictionary to explore this new lead, there is no railroad frog word. Busted, again.