(Fwd) Fw: How Specs Live Forever

steveo at nexus.flash.net steveo at nexus.flash.net
Fri Oct 18 13:42:10 PDT 1996

The following is an example of medevial history having an impact on 
modern life.

Steffan of the Tall Pines

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
> Truth is funnier than fiction...
> How Specs Live Forever
> 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 ass 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.
> Professor Tom O'Hare,
> Germanic Lanuages (512) 471-4123
> University of Texas at Austin
> tohare at mail.utexas.edu
> **********************************************************

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list