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The early Zetetic movement occurred in tandem with the "Golden Age of Railroads," in which hundreds of thousands of miles of railroad were laid worldwide from the early 1800's to the early 1900's. During this time there was lively discussion on how railroads, often over hundreds of miles, are always assembled, cut, measured, and laid out horizontally level without the mathematical calculation or allowance for any curvature.

  “ The London and Northwestern Railway forms a straight line 180 miles long between London and Liverpool. The railroad’s highest point, midway at Birmingham station, is only 240 feet above sea-level. If the world were actually a globe, however, curveting 8 inches per mile squared, the 180 mile stretch of rail would form an arc with the center point at Birmingham raising a full 5,400 feet above London and Liverpool. Adding the station’s actual height (240 feet) to its theoretical inclination (5,400 feet) gives 5,640 feet as the rail’s necessary height on a globe-Earth, more than a thousand feet taller than Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Great Britain! ” —David Wardlaw Scott, Terra Firma (1901)

Zetetic Cosmogony

Zetetic Cosmogony (1899)
by Thomas Winship
Full Text Link

p.23

  “ Let those who believe it is the practice for surveyors to make allowance for ‘curvature’ ponder over the following from the Manchester Ship Canal Company (Earth Review, October, 1893) "It is customary in Railway and Canal constructions for all levels to be referred to a datum which is nominally horizontal and is so shown on all sections. It is not the practice in laying out Public Works to make allowances for the curvature of the earth." ”

p.107

  “ In projecting railways on a globe, the datum line would be the arc of a circle corresponding to the latitude of the place. That the datum line for the railway projections is always a horizontal line, proves that the general configuration of the world is horizontal. To support the globe theory, the gentlemen of the observatories should call upon the surveyor to prove that he allows the necessary amount for ‘curvature.’ But this is what the learned men dare not do, as it is well-known that the allowance for the supposed curvature is never made. ”

p.109

  “ One hundred and eighteen miles of LEVEL railway, and yet the surface on which it is projected a globe? Impossible. It cannot be. Early in 1898 I met Mr. Hughes, chief officer of the steamer ‘City of Lincoln.’ This gentleman told me he had projected thousands of miles of level railway in South America, and never heard of any allowance for curvature being made. On one occasion he surveyed over one thousand miles of railway which was a perfect straight line all the way. ”

  “ It is well known that in the Argentine Republic and other parts of South America, there are railways thousands of miles long without curve or gradient. In projecting railways, the world is acknowledged to be a plane, and if it were a globe the rules of projection have yet to be discovered. Level railways prove a level world, to the utter confusion of the globular school of impractical men with high salaries and little brains. ”

p.126

  “ That in all surveys no allowance is made for curvature, which would be a necessity on a globe; that a horizontal line is in every case the datum line, the same line being continuous throughout the whole length of the work; and that the theodolite cuts a line at equal altitudes on either side of it, which altitude is the same as that of the instrument, clearly proves, to those who will accept proof when it is furnished, that the world is a plane and not a globe. ”

Earth Review

One surveyor, Mr. T. Westwood, wrote into the January, 1896 “Earth Review” magazine stating that, “In leveling, I work from Ordinance marks, or canal levels, to get the height above sea level. The puzzle to me used to be, that over several miles each level was and is treated throughout its whole length as the same level from end to end; not the least allowance being made for curvature. One of the civil engineers in this district, after some amount of argument on each side as to the reason why no allowance for curvature was made, said he did not believe anybody would know the shape of the earth in this life.”

Engineer, W. Winckler, wrote into the Earth Review October 1893 regarding the Earth’s supposed curvature, stating, “As an engineer of many years standing, I saw that this absurd allowance is only permitted in school books. No engineer would dream of allowing anything of the kind. I have projected many miles of railways and many more of canals and the allowance has not even been thought of, much less allowed for. This allowance for curvature means this - that it is 8” for the first mile of a canal, and increasing at the ratio by the square of the distance in miles; thus a small navigable canal for boats, say 30 miles long, will have, by the above rule an allowance for curvature of 600 feet. Think of that and then please credit engineers as not being quite such fools. Nothing of the sort is allowed. We no more think of allowing 600 feet for a line of 30 miles of railway or canal, than of wasting our time trying to square the circle.”