Definitions for gandy dancerˈgæn di
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word gandy dancer
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
gan′dy danc`erˈgæn di(n.)
a member of a railroad section gang that lays or maintains track.
Origin of gandy dancer:
1915–20; of uncert. orig.
a laborer in a railroad maintenance gang
A railway laborer, especially a member of a crew which carries rails and affixes them to ties.
Gandy dancer is a slang term used for early railroad workers who laid and maintained railroad tracks in the years before the work was done by machines. The British equivalent of the term gandy dancer is "navvy" from "navigator", originally builders of canals or "inland navigations". In the U.S. Southwest and Mexico, Mexican and Mexican-American track workers were colloquially "traqueros". In some texts, the term is described as specific to those workers who built the track. One text states that "layers of railroad track are hardly ever called gandy dancers," asserting, rather, that the job of the gandy dancer refers to "track examiners", ascribing their responsibilities as "checking ties, bolts, track, and roadbed for necessary repairs." However, most sources refer to gandy dancers as the men who did the difficult physical work of track maintenance under the direction of an overseer. There are various theories about the derivation of the term, but most refer to the "dancing" movements of the workers using a specially manufactured 5-foot "lining" bar as a lever to keep the tracks in alignment.
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