For the first century and more of the Commonwealth, the history of transport is essentially the same as in our timeline:
- most personal-travel is on foot, with some horse for urgent travel, and increasing use of horse-drawn carriages and wagons for group-travel
- light-freight carried on roads by pack-animal, or on shared-transport by wagon
- bulk-freight carried on land by ox-drawn wagon, on the river via barge, and by sea via coastal sail-powered freighter
Again as per our timeline, these are supplemented in some places by local tramways – man-pushed, horse-dragged or, later, powered by steam-winch – and also, from the mid-18th-century onwards, by purpose-built canals, and, onward into the 19th-century, by steam-powered railways and steam-powered traction.
The big difference from our timeline is the contributions from vinery:
- from the mid-18th-century, the first type of mobile ‘viner-beast’, the Crawler – in essence a long, flat living tree-trunk that can move slowly along a road by a rippling action of its undersurface – takes over the slow-but-heavy-haulage tasks of the classic ox-train (and in doing so also flattens the existing ruts and potholes of the road, improving transport for everyone)
- in the late-18th-century, the advent of the load-carrying Walker – an eight-legged ‘viner-beast’ frame, sometimes nicknamed the Sleeper, after Sleipnir, Odin’s horse from Nordic myth – capable of ‘walking’ and, later, ‘running’ down a road
- early in the 19th-century, the development of liquid-nutrients – most often derived from sugar-beet – greatly extends viner-beasts’ range, speed and carrying-capacity
Within a few decades, variants of the Walker – such as the Runner, the Cab, the Truck, the Waggon, and the Omnibus – have become so ubiquitous and, beyond the cities, so fast, that they have all but supplanted horses and horse-drawn transport.
The arrival of the steam-train in the 1830s, and the bicycle in the 1860s present the only real challenges to that dominance – the steam-train for its speed, distance and bulk-carrying capacity, the bicycle for its compactness and practicality. For short- to medium-distance load-carrying, though, the various trade-offs are usually so far in viner-beasts’ favour that there is no contest at all.
As for any other transport-technology, cities and infrastructures adapt themselves to support the viner-beast traffic. Much as the haymarket and the coaching-inns’ stables were essential to support the horse-drawn transport-systems of our own timeline, so too is the Commonwealth’s network of feedstores for liquid nutrients for viner-beasts, and the ‘viner-fields’ in towns and cities where viner-beasts can put down temporary roots between tasks and replenish energy through their surface foliage – the latter more often like pine-needles or cypress-sprays than deciduous leaves. Unlike grazing horses, viner-beasts are as motionless as trees when at rest – other than when being worked on by pruners and branchers, who do the equivalent tasks as grooms and farriers do for horses.
Last Update: August 31, 2017