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 the 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. 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.
1. Aztec, Central Mexico -- Quetzalcoatl
- Honduras/Nicaragua/Costa Rica)
2. Maya, Yucatán Peninsula -- KuKulcan (adopted Toltec mythology)
3. Kechua (Inca), Perú/Bolivia/Ecuador -- Viracocha (origin of the myth predates Kechua at least 1500 years)
The first two mean Feathered Snake. Viracocha means
"foam of the sea".
the name of the subculture
came from the name of a punk
offshoot music movement pioneered by Siouxsie
and the Banshees, which came from the Gothic books and movies (such as
_Dracula_), which came from the name of the scary dark medieval architecture,
which came from a derogatory name given to the Gothic architects comparing
them to Goths, who were a tribe of barbarians.
604 track _Blizzard Of Ooze_ by Snake Thing possible reference to book/film _Wizard of oz_ and release _Blizzard Of Ozz_ the latter being the title of Ozzy Osbourne's first solo release. also, Nick Taylor (Snake Thing) is heavily involved in the Australianpsychedelictrance scene. their music can be sampled on the release _Wizardy Of Oz_ (in reference to "oz" or "australia") 12"x2 on Transient (1997)