Transportation in Meinah[An excerpt from the condensed volume of “A Brief summary of the dispersion of the human population in Meinah, Primary Cities in the Meinah Economic Web and their Primary Exports and The methods and practices in the modern times which have overcome the adverse limitations in population growth faced by past generations” Published by T.T.Long, Meinan Council Keeper of Records, yr.1776]
Item I.a : Advancement in Byways
With the construction of the Nidarie-Thaan road [completed in 1763], merchants found the transport or goods from longer distances, or in the case of some of the more weathy the far western lands across the high sea, suddenly much easier. The ingenious level surface and packed stone of the nearly four-cubit (7 feet) wide road permitted the use of wagons and carts, and snowtime sleds, where the old road-trail had allowed only packmules and yoked burden-beasts.
Seeing the success of this road, which connects the Capitol of Nidare and the farm-trade city of Gril with the growing economic and social center in the old dragon city of Thaan, many investors have begun construction of their own roads to other communities throughout the nation. Some of these roads are simply glorified versions of existing roads – narrow enough to only allow one or two travelers wide. Though they are flattened with weights after being carved out, most lack the packed stone surface of the great road, often being left as soil or having trees burned in place to form ash beds to mark out the road. These private roads are provided as tollways even so, the wider and better surfaced the road, the higher the toll. Even with these negative features, the new roads that have been constructed within the past decade are seen as more desirable than the old and have shown themselves profitable. This has resulted in greater travel, greater merchant traffic, quicker supply of materials to-, and higher demands for employment and skills in growing communities, and in turn has lead to rapid growth in those places.
The most ambitious of the stone-road projects are the widening of the Telan-Thaan road and the future Pan-Brenach desert highway; the road to Telan being most laborious to construct. This road will needing to pass through the often avoided Xreda Forests and for safety provide a much wider road cut through the trees than any point on the Nidare road.
The majority of travel between Telan and the communities to the north and west has been through shipping and a precariously narrow mountain road along the often steep outer slopes of the Dakkar range, on which only narrow wagons can pass and they taking the entire trail at most points. There is a main road, which the project shall widen, but in its present form it can become impassable and is burdened with many wild beasts. Some small villages have formed along the river and this road, however these are small and dangerous; in the thick and dark forest here those without good hunting and fighting abilities can often be hunted and viciously slain by a wild beast or the occasionally savage wood-elves native to the area. The villages primarily trade lumber, cured meats, and animal pelts.
Item I.b : Advancement in transportation
Our fathers spoke of the days when merchants traveled with only high priced or small items what they could load on a couple of mules, and most goods one needed were supplied as best as could be managed within the local area. This left little variety in foods, technology, and building materials. Even as new roads were being constructed, stronger carts and wagons began appearing on city streets which have proven themselves most useful. A sturdier design and metal wheel-shoe allow salesmen and shippers to transport large quantities, up to five times the amount of a pack-mule in some cases, using only one animal. This is more cost effective and allows for quicker travel to farther distances. Under-wagon storage allows for the hidden placement of sleeping and camping materials as well, to increase cargo capacity. Though this has resulted in some smuggling of controlled or banished goods the criminal usage of the space is minimal.
Traditional wagons have been heavy but simple constructions built of thick planks and round-cut disks of planks (or for smaller applications, a large log with the bark removed) for wheels, rope and pin holding the assembly together and in all requiring two or more horses lead from the front. Near the completion of the great road, a blacksmith in Gril named Volke Smythe began offering a new wagon of his own design which he called the Road Wagon. Volke’s new wagon design introduced spoked wheels, hung-rope suspension, and iron reinforced panel construction which allowed for a lighter weight but stronger bed, and a somewhat springy feel to the travel so that a seat or bench could be affixed to the front. Volke’s lightweight design and a new yoking system made it possible to haul a light load with only one horse.
The success of these wagons lead Volke to expand his smithy and devotee his business entirely to their construction, modifying the design for various uses and within this past year replacing the rope suspension with a tightly bound cluster of metal plates which offer more reliable and comfortable travel. A greatly modified of the wagon which Volke has called the ‘Kamb’ has a lowered floor between the axles and a cabin overtop with curtained windows and a door in the side, which has proven popular among the wealthy for both city and traveling use. Another design which has proven popular for those that travel with little baggage has been the Volke Bud, a small contraption which hitches close to a horse or mule and requires only one axle. The Bud seats two.
Volke’s successful wagons, like the Nidarie-Thaan road, have inspired others to develop wagon and hitch designs. We can expect advancements from other frontrunners in the new industry over the next few years, including Tiaf Rotom from north of Nidarie and Merchaty Ben of Rhen.