Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Horsepower: where it all started

Americantrails.org - Full Article

Horsepower. The term oozes petroleum, big diesel pickups, Harley’s and cut-off flannel shirts in the garage. In an age where television is riddled with ads for vehicles boasting “the most” and “the strongest,” we often forget where it all start- ed from; the horse.

By definition, horsepower is what it takes to lift 33,000 lbs one foot in height over the course of one minute. A healthy human can sustainably produce approximately one tenth of one hp, not very much by any standard when the big trucks on television tout 300-500 horsepower.

Now contrast that to designated Wilderness areas where motors are no longer allowed and the options for accomplishing work and moving equipment are limited to either human power or horsepower. Moving downfall off the trail, digging new tread, and building turnpikes are examples of work that must be done without the assistance of motors.

In order to accomplish many of these tasks, backcountry managers use horses and mules. While livestock can’t pull a crosscut or swing an axe, they can provide the needed torque to move heavy objects around in the backcountry.

The majority of the gear necessary to work and recreate in the Wilderness is packed in on the backs of horses and mules. However, what most people don’t see is the work that was done and still continues to occur using mule teams to drag and skid objects...

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