Our warehouse in North Little Rock, Arkansas, is old. It originally was built as a Lion Oil depot adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad maintenance yard. There is a gate in the fence between the two companies that is still used from time to time, thus far for us to coax from our neighbor to the west a few used cross ties and and to share with them some of the tomatoes and watermelons we have grown in the side yard.
In its heyday, the warehouse boasted a railroad spur right up to its southern doors. When we acquired the warehouse we noticed that the roots of a huge cottonwood tree over the course of time had ruined the spur for future use, so we took up the rails. As we started to cut the rails into manageable pieces with a torch, we realized we had our hands on some very old iron. In some places the iron was marked “Carnegie”; in others was the date “1910.”
For the most part, the rails have been cut into 16-inch pieces for use as anvils, andirons, bases for portable outdoor fireplaces or cookouts, or as historical conversation pieces. A few smaller pieces can be used as a jeweler’s anvil, bookends, or a boat anchor. We have even welded iron chain to some of the smaller ones (4-6″ to make their use as an anchor easier). We even polish up the end-cut scraps for paper weights.
As an anvil, the metal is quite good. They are guaranteed to ring! They will work in almost any fireplace as an andiron. We can torch cut a hole in one for a gas pipe starter, if you like, or you can do that yourself, as we see these as a good starter for the beginning metal worker.
Each one is torch-cut and then hand-hammered, ground, and filed on one end and cut smooth with a saw on the other. Each is drilled on opposing diagonal ends so that lag bolts or nails easily can hold the anvil in place. Each is sequentially numbered, branded, and then finally hand-rubbed with linseed oil.
Choose from 12-inch or 18-inch.