Bill Bryson, you say? His comments and observations about Twain and Hannibal in _The Lost Continent_ are suspect--to a point. Them's fightin' werds!
> On Dec 10, 2014, at 6:16 PM, Steve Hoffman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Funny, I was just reading (in Bill Bryson's
> delightful In a Sunburned Country) about how
> inconsistent gauges hindered development of
> efficient train travel in Australia.
> According to Wikipedia, it was Victoria that had
> the wider gauge, New South Wales the narrower
> gauge. So assuming Wiki is correct, Twain's words
> are correct and the printed illustration incorrect.
> Funny how this happened. In the mid-19th century,
> as Australian railroads were being built, the
> chief engineer of the Sydney Railway was an
> Irish-born fellow who persuaded the New South
> Wales legislature to utilize the Irish gauge
> (5'3", 1600 mm), and the other colonies (including
> Victoria) adopted it. But when the Irish chief
> engineer of the Sydney Railway was replaced by a
> Scottish-born guy, the Scotsman convinced New
> South Wales to switch to English standard gauge,
> which was narrower (4'8", 1435 mm) .... thus
> requiring these changes of gauge to travel between
> Australia's two major cities, as Twain experienced.
> Other parts of Australia (such as Queensland)
> adopted yet a different gauge, the very narrow
> 3'6" (1067 mm).
> --Steve Hoffman
> Takoma Park
> (p.s. I'm planning a trip to Australia in 2015
> that includes train travel across the continent,
> from Sydney to Perth -- all standard gauge
> nowadays). Will also spend time in Melbourne,
> after flying there from Perth.)
>> On 12/10/2014 1:52 PM, Scott Holmes wrote:
>> Just a bit of a puzzle. Chapter 14 of Following the Equator has Sam and
>> party railroading from Sydney to Melbourne. The border of New South
>> Wales and Victoria has an abrupt change in railway gauge requiring the
>> passengers to disembark from one train and board the next. This was
>> done in the early morning chill. Twain's narrative has it with a narrow
>> gauge to the frontier and a wide gauge to Melbourne. The illustration
>> and chapter abstract has it the other way around.