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Discussion Starter #1
Just a disturbing thought to help you through your day.
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 English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did he English 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 have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts?

Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. This accomodated two war horses, side by side.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse's rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

And now, the twist to the story...

There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds.

When we 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. Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had 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 is about as wide as two horses behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a Horse's ass!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Man, Bob, I've had that around for a long time, did not even think about checking it for truth.


sheesh, go and ruin a good story :)

J.
 

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BobShirley said:
An interesting story but not true according to www.truthorfiction.com. To read their explnation , type the subject in the search block.


Bob Schrader
Wentzville, Mo.
'00LTC
Why is anything in the Humor forum subject to Snopes or TruthOrFiction?
 

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Because things like this spread fast on the internet, next person may think it is true and post elsewhere, or send to friends thinking it is true, only to have it continue to spread as a "truth".

At least anyone seeing it here will know not to send it as fact, but fiction.

Also, this one was posted in humor, but does not read as a joke, but something proposed to be true.
 

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dshealey said:
Because things like this spread fast on the internet, next person may think it is true and post elsewhere, or send to friends thinking it is true, only to have it continue to spread as a "truth".

At least anyone seeing it here will know not to send it as fact, but fiction.

Also, this one was posted in humor, but does not read as a joke, but something proposed to be true.
We will have agree to disagree on whether or not things posted in the Humor forum should be subject to the Snopes/TruthOrFiction test. My assumption is anthing thing here is pure humor and not to be taken seriously.
 
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