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Dusty Zima <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:32:15 -0500
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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! 

Dustin Zima
Elmira College

> 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.