Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Transportation


Possibly a very stupid question, but I am somewhat stuck.

If you have a huge amount of stone to transport and a big river as well as a road is available. What would you take?




Re: Transportation

Oh, a river. Right up until well into the 20th century, coal was moved by barge. Definatly the river. Lighter on the water, see, and less annoying bumps, hills, trees in the way and bandits.



Re: Transportation

Would stone float? It seems like that would be the real trick. If it would, I agree with Soubrettina, river is better. But my first thought is that in a lot of cases it wouldn't, so road would be better.

I may be wrong, but the coal I've seen is fairly light as far as stone goes. I suspect it would matter about the type of stone, the shape (flat sheets versus chunks), and things like that. If it would float and if the river goes anywhere near you would I'd probably do that.




Re: Transportation

A river.  In the 1800s granite was quarried on Dartmoor near where I live, and carried by a specially constructed granite railway to the canal.  From there it was carried by barge to the docks, and then by ship along the coast and up the River Thames to London.




Re: Transportation

You move anything heavy by water if you possibly can.  The energy savings from friction alone is tremendous.

Here are some figures to show you the savings, based on historical transport costs.

Roman Empire   sea:river:land     1:4.9:28

18th century England                   1:4.7:22.6

So, it's five times as expensive to ship a ton of stone by river than by sea, and 23-28 times as expensive to ship it by land...presumably on a good road.  If you don't have good roads, the cost only goes up.  One estimate for Roman trade beyond the Rhine frontier puts the land costs around 62 times the cost of sea transport.

This is why Laketown is such a great place for trade.



Re: Transportation

Thank you all so very much. I now have a good deal less to worry about.




Re: Transportation


I am in awe - great job of research - I hope this info is in the resource area!

Thanks for sharing!



Re: Transportation

Hi Vilwarin,

Here is a passage from Tolkien's words that I believe reinforces what others have already said (emphases mine):
Therefore the roads of Númenor were for the most part unpaved, made and tended for riding, since coaches and carriages were little used in the earlier centuries, and heavy cargoes were borne by sea. The chief and most ancient road suitable for wheels, ran from the greatest port, Rómenna in the east, to the royal city of Armenelos, and thence on to the Valley of the Tombs and the Meneltarma; and this road was early ex­tended to Ondosto within the borders of the Forostar, and thence to Andúnië in the west. Along it passed wains bearing stone from the Northlands that was most esteemed for building, and timber in which the Westlands were rich.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, A Description of the Island of Númenor

The Northlands are Forostar, and the Westlands are Andustar (containing Andúnië). My theory is that the road was extended to Forostar and Andustar partly because they had such heavy products, and partly because there are no rivers big enough to show on the map in that area of the island. So these heavy products would be taken by that road to the port city of Andúnië, then transported by sea.

So, I interpret the passage as suggesting that transport by sea was the preferred option, then possibly transport by river (it's not clear whether the two rivers that show on the map were navigable), then transport by road... but that it had to be a good, sturdy, paved road.

Hope this helps!

- Barbara



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