Breese Historical Society

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  E28- Breese RR Depot



The Breese Depot stands ready to receive incoming and outgoing freight as well as passengers.

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? A commonly given explanation is that this is the spacing of Roman chariot wheels. As improbable as it sounds, that knowledge of the gauge of ancient Roman chariots survived the fall of Rome, the dark ages and then resurface to be applied to the new invention of steam-powered railroads during the industrial revolution, follow this logic.

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 wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Because that’s the spacing needed to hitch two horses together. And that’s how the modern day railroad is forever connected to Roman chariots.



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