A history lesson for those that think history doesn’t matter:
What’s the big deal about railway tracks?
Yes, I am well aware that there was a time- a very short time- that the Province of Canada’s railways were forced to use Broad Gauge as opposed to Standard Gauge, but in the end, intelligence prevailed. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that Grand Trunk Pacific, Canadian Northern and other early Cdn railways may still be in business today if Broad Gauge had not bankrupt them- but that is another story. The current Canadian and US standard railway gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. So why was that gauge used?
Well, because that’s the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first Canadian and US railways. Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.
So, why did they use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England. You see, that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So, who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And what about the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore, the North American standard railway gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder “What horse’s ass came up with this?”, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important? Ancient horse’s asses control almost everything and…
CURRENT: Horses Asses are controlling everything else.
By – Patrick Robinson