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 English
expatriates built the US Railroads.
Why did the English build them
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who
pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and
tools that they used for building wagons, which used that
Why did the wagons have that
particular odd wheel spacing?
they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break
on some of the old, long distance roads in England,
the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and
England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever
And the ruts in the roads?
war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had
to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.
Since the chariots were made for
Imperial Rome, they were all alike
in the matter of wheel spacing.
United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is
derived from the original specifications for an Imperial
Roman war chariot. And
bureaucracies live forever.
next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done
it that way and wonder what horse's ass came up with that,
be exactly right, because the
Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide
enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.
Now the twist to the story...
When you see a
Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two
big booster rockets attached to
the sides of the main fuel tank.
These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are
Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred
to make them
a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to
be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.
railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in
the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.
The tunnel is
slightly wider than the railroad
track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide
as two horses' behinds.
major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the
world's most advanced transportation system was determined
thousand years ago by the width
of a Horse's ass.
And you thought being a horse's
ass wasn't important ??
GEORGE "ON THE RIGHT TRACK" RAIL
BEARTOWN RAILROAD AFICIONADO