Old 06-30-2006, 03:19 PM   #1
Wonka001
Senior Member
 
Wonka001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Woods Cross, UT
Posts: 203
Default Why 4 feet 8.5 inches for railroads..

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specs and Bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.
__________________
Out of 93 pictures in one night I submit three, get one in, and forget about the rest..

Here is a show of my work here on RPN

Another place to look at pictures if there is more to photography than railroading http://www.picpublisher.com/referral/William_Grow
Wonka001 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2006, 03:59 PM   #2
VirginiaSouthern
Banned
 
VirginiaSouthern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Sumter, SC
Posts: 391
Send a message via AIM to VirginiaSouthern Send a message via Yahoo to VirginiaSouthern
Default

That's a pretty cool tidbit of information. Thanks for sharing it with us.
VirginiaSouthern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2006, 12:06 AM   #3
Wonka001
Senior Member
 
Wonka001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Woods Cross, UT
Posts: 203
Default

I saw one that went a little bit further and explained why the booster rockets were the size they were, and was because of the trains could only carry something not any bigger than that, or they wouldn't fit in the tunnels between the starting point and the destination.. that's a little more food for thought..

oh and btw, I didn't come up with that information myself, it came to me in my email this morning, and just had to share it with you, so it's not to my credit.
__________________
Out of 93 pictures in one night I submit three, get one in, and forget about the rest..

Here is a show of my work here on RPN

Another place to look at pictures if there is more to photography than railroading http://www.picpublisher.com/referral/William_Grow
Wonka001 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2006, 01:36 AM   #4
David Telesha
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

That info was debunked a long time ago -- its been floating around for years...

Go here:

http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.htm

Last edited by David Telesha; 07-01-2006 at 01:40 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 11:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.