Endfield – World Building – Clouds Part Two
Having begun to add to my backdrop with a major catastrophe, “The Rendering”, I think it’s only natural for me, the author, to freak out a bit. Something that major would have rippling effects and touch the lives of all that live there. With that said, wouldn’t it be necessary to create ‘clouds’ for every aspect of life? If so, where to begin? And how to begin, knowing how intricately they are intertwined? Such are my thoughts.
To begin, I’m throwing a dart while blindfolded. I know that one aspect of life affects another, but one has to start somewhere. My dart lands on transportation, of all things. Considering my past work in cartography, it wasn’t such a leap and perhaps more manageable than jumping into, say, racial relations.
So, let the brainstorming begin.
Since I’m writing a fictional story or set of stories based off a real planet, I have an advantage of known history and how the landmasses were pictured at that time. Lucky me! Since my dart landed on transportation, I feel a bit more relaxed in making changes because, to my lucky toss, I have maps available to me that show what the US looked like. Huzzah!
With little effort, I began to search for the first mode of transportation that came to mind; the railroads. My jaw dropped at the massive expanse from the very first image I clicked on (http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/19-century/wagon-roads-1860.jpg) and that was 1860. Continuing on, scratching my head in wonder, I started noting major rail lines as I moved from the generic US maps to state maps. Reading a few dedicated pages of the history behind the railroads and the companies behind them, I was quickly overwhelmed with name changes and dates of expansion. It is a study within itself. A very heady one.
Turning back to my map of mass destruction, I quickly noted that the rail system would be severely impacted. Why? In short, hubs. In the most generic of terms, the rail systems have places (cities) where the lines come together. Chicago had the goods from their ports on the lake, its own manufacturing and the cargo moving east to west and west to east to deal with. A hub with spokes. This takes place in many cities across the land. There are cities on rivers that take in the goods shipped up by riverboat and put them on trains to be transported elsewhere. But here’s the problem. I ripped the country apart with earthquakes and floods. Any hub or port within a location along waterways and at a certain elevation are gone. St Louis, Memphis, Chicago are not there, or in the shape that you might expect. To add to this, I basically wiped out the major cities on the east coast. Why is this important? The forges and factories that were in them are gone. Oops.
Now, had I simply had the eastern part of the country slip gently a mile or so away from the rest, one could imagine, with time, effort and resources, the railroad companies would compensate for the wider boundaries of say the Mississippi. BUT, in my choice to really do some damage, there is no way you are going to span twenty-five miles in those days. I had, unintentionally, divided the nation in more ways than geographical. I severed or certainly impeded transportation of goods and, at that time, railroads where built for that very purpose.
“Well done, Mac”, I state sarcastically.
Okay, so I have to deal with this issue. This country didn’t stop moving forward after September 11th. Nor would this country, so fixated on commerce, in the late 1870’s. What would those dependent on trade do in the face of such adversity? Well, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Obviously, not all tracks running across this land would be damaged so fix only what you must. As for the hubs, the stakeholders would vote to rebuild and in safer locations. Turning to the elephant in the room, the expanses of the waterways, funds go into steamships and riverboats to move goods across them to the working rail lines. Will it happen overnight? Nope. But if it’s a matter of coin, you KNOW it will be taken on by someone.
I mentioned riverboats and steamers. Without delving into the ‘economy cloud’, I would say that this would be the time to build boats. With water ways expanded, what other means do you see in history that deals with moving people and things? As hinted above, it seems a natural jump to think that anyone with means is going to see the advantage of filling the gap as quickly as they can. I can imagine that those that may have made money in the past with the railroads across wide expanses of land are going to jump at the chance of being dominate on water. Will such funds come from the very wealthy that have survived the Rendering? Will enterprising people heap their funds into a pile to begin their own companies? Would a cattleman invest in them to make sure his heard made it east? Will the surviving towns along the waterways attempt to have their own boats? Many questions, but I will say ‘yes’ to all of them and let the chips fall where they may. As for these ports being safe, that will have to be addressed later.
It was easy enough to imagine how the railroads might be affected and the possible boom of river transport, but remember that in that time period, the country still was agrarian. True, it was moving full steam (if you pardon the expression) into the industrial way of life, but many lived in small towns or farms. How did they get their goods to railroads? Wagons. Scratching my balding head once more, I looked at maps of the time. Yes, roads are marked on county maps, but is there anything I should address given the change? I will need to wait a bit before addressing cultural and social changes to answer this. You see, it all depends on the safety one can expect when using roads, something we take for granted today. I suspect, given the psychological impact of a changed world that even taking goods to market will be affected. There were stage robbers before, but can you imagine how much worse it might be after your world is thrown into chaos?
I believe, at this point, I can timidly set the ‘transportation’ cloud aside. As with all that follow, it is dependent on others and will change here and there. With the next cloud to address, I will need to look back and see what might need mending. Basic as this is, it’s a good start and that is what we need to move forward.
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Bless and Keep,