Wes Cheney works for the Norfolk Southern Railway, and he lives in the town that gave the line part of its name: Norfolk, Va.
While out with his video camera one day, he captured an intriguing sound: that of an automated spikedriver.
The machine, which is the size of a dump truck, does the work that in the old days was done by hand, with a sledgehammer: It drives spikes into ribbon rail -- quarter-mile sections of steel -- to hold the rail in place onto the ties.
If you're standing near the machine, the spikedriver makes a pounding sound, says Cheney.
But if you walk further away, you can't hear the spikedriver's pounding -- but you can hear the sound transmitted through the rails. Cheney says it's the "freakiest sound in the world" if you haven't seen the machine.
He compares it to sound effects from a 1950s sci-fi movie or "cicadas on acid."