Why are railroad tracks
the width they are?
Prepare to be
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the
rails) is 4 feet, 8. 5 inches. That' s an exceedingly odd
Why was that gauge used? Because that' s the way they built
them in England, and English expatriates designed the US
Why did the English build them like that? Because the tint
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
had used for building wagons, which used that wheel
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? Imperial Rome
built the first long distance roads in Europe (including
England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used
And the rum in the roads? Roman war chariots formed
the initial rum, 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. Therefore
the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8. 5
inches is derived from the original specifications for an
Imperial Roman war chariot.
I know, I know fellow Ters, you' re prob thinkin what
horse' s ass came up with this. You' re exactly right.
Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide
enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war
horses. (Two horses' asses.)
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 . The are made by
Thickos at their factory in Utah
The engineers who designed the would have preferred
to make them a hit fatter, but the had to be shipped by
train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line
from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the
mountains, and the had to lit 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
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is
arguably the world' s most advanced transportation
system was determined over two thousand years ago
by the width of a horse' s ass. And you thought being
a horse' s ass wasn' t important?
Reconsider next time you call someone an ass, ass.