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In the early 1900s railroads were built and maintained by hand crews. Work crews, called Gandy Dancers would line bars, replace and repair ties, repack loose gravel, and level the track.
A call was used by these Gandy Dancer Crews to provide a tune to synchronize the swinging of hand tools. Fancy footwork and skilled use of hand tools were trademarks of these crews.
The name Gandy Dancer may possibly have originated after the Chicago-based Gandy Manufacturing Company, the manufacturer of railroad tools.
In the spring of 1990 a naming contest was completed for the trail. The name Gandy Dancer was selected to honor those workers who built the railroad.