GREEN library kids’ event today & Roman Empire stuff

“Get Your Green On” Thursday, May 14th @ 3:30 pm, Main library We celebrate Children’s Book Week (May 11-17) as the library goes green. Children will receive a special seed packet just for checking out 5 books. Children will decorate a recycled cup and plant some seeds in it to grow a plant.

I just got home from tutoring at school.  When I got there, the kids were watching a Brain Pop video about Cleopatra.  The boy I was working with had lots of questions about “why did she kill herself?”, “why did they build pyramids?”, “what happened to the Roman empire?” and I tried to give him some insight into the whole Roman Empire thing.  I’m not sure I’m qualified, without reading up more, first, but I’m glad he was so interested.  Not sure how I can get that interest to translate into helping him read better… Mr. Hanna told me that he wasn’t positive that it is true, but it is rumored (off to look it up soon!) that the Roman chariots made such indelible ruts in the roads/tracks, that in all the countries where they ruled, wagons were made in the same dimensions so they could ride in the ruts.  And that this carried over even into the new world, as the Connestoga wagons had the same axel/wheel spacing and so do railroad tracks.  FASCINATING!  LMK if you have info on this, as, while I am going to look it up, I can’t do it right this second because I have other work to get done today.

Did find this:From http://www.naciente.com/essay94.htm 

American railroad tracks are 56.5″ wide (the “gauge”) because the English built the first railroads in America and they used that width. Why did they use that width? 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 were used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Why did wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Because older wagon ruts throughout England used that spacing, and if they changed it, wagon wheels would break by either falling into or being forced out of the old ruts, which were 56.5″ wide.

The old ruts were that size because the roads were built by the Romans, who arrived in England in 54 BC and left about 400 AD. Their wagons, and their chariots before their wagons, used that spacing, and that spacing was used all over Europe and wherever Rome conquered, because their wagons used the identical wheel base everywhere. So the modern railroad track width derives from the Roman chariot.

Why was the Roman chariot track width 56.5″? Because that was the width of a chariot that would equal the width of two “standard” Roman horses. Thus, wagon and horses would fit through the same narrow street. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever!

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