Pennies on a Railroad Track, Part 2

by Larry Hehn on September 7, 2012

two penniesJust a couple of days ago I published a post about leaving some pennies on a railroad track. My friend Mike and I were hoping to see what happened when they got squished by a train.

Sadly, I missed the train when it came by yesterday (I was out golfing with my Dad), but today I got to see the results!

A few things surprised me about this whole “penny on a railroad track” thing.

First of all, I never noticed how wrinkly my palms have become. What is up with that? Hmmph…

I was also amazed that we only recovered three of the eight pennies that we left on the track. There were eight obvious impressions on the track – copper “skid marks” that showed where they had been. But they must have stuck to the train wheels, or shot out like Tiddlywinks across the parking lot, because five of them were nowhere to be found.

Of the three that we did find, only one had been completely squished. The two others only had portions crushed before being squeezed off the track.

As you can see, the one that was squished doesn’t look much like a penny any more. If you ask me, it looks pretty darn cool!

I’m glad we went to the trouble of putting out eight pennies instead of just one. Of course, it taught me some unexpected lessons.

1. Even when you work, watch and wait for something, not everything always goes as planned.  With the train moving as slow as it was, I fully expected to easily recover eight perfectly squished pennies. I was shocked to only find one. Expect setbacks and opposition.

2. Don’t count on the bare minimum to get you by. If we had only placed one penny at a time on that track, it could have been weeks – maybe months – before we got what we were hoping for. David only needed one stone to take out Goliath, but he put five in his pouch. Be prepared to invest up front.

3. You just might be surprised at how many people say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to try that too!” Yeah, we got some snickers from onlookers while we were out scouring the parking lot (that’ll happen too), but I was impressed with how many people got behind and followed our penny squishing adventure. Putting your dream into action might inspire others to do the same.

Next week, Mike and I are graduating to nickels!

Have you ever put a penny on a railroad track?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy September 10, 2012 at 12:42 am

My great grandmother was married for decades to a train engineer in rural South Carolina. They lived in the old station house which had been moved about 50 feet back from the tracks, but it was still like a 6.0 earthquake inside anytime a freight train would go by outside. My brother and I used to put pennies on the tracks every day when we were there. Sometimes we stood by and watched as the train hit them. If you look close you might see a couple of them fly, but usually will just have to hunt around afterward.

We would put about twenty down for each train. After we realized we were only finding about two of the twenty, we started taping them down with Scotch tape. I don’t have scientific results of this experiment, but I like to think that we were more likely to find the pennies that were taped than the ones that were not. We did find a lot, but I, like you, was very surprised at how many we never found.
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Larry Hehn September 10, 2012 at 8:14 am

Wow, that sounds like so much fun! I’ll have to try the tape and see how that works. I’m relieved to hear that it’s normal to only find a fraction of the pennies once they’ve been hit. The others must go to the same place as those socks that go missing from our clothes dryer and leave their single partner behind.

I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story here, Jeremy. Thanks!

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David Rupert September 10, 2012 at 10:32 am

You guys are actually analyzing this and it cracks me up. My brother and I did put pennies on the tracks — and my mother was just certain it would derail the train. Oh boy. My mom worried about everything!
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Larry Hehn September 10, 2012 at 11:52 am

Can you picture us out there with labcoats, clipboards, and engineer hats? The scary part is, I can! Yep, I’m still a little kid at heart. 🙂

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