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How Military Specs Live Forever

Interesting bit of trivia:

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 (Military Spec) for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.
MilSpecs 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.
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