How Many Time Zones Were There In The Late 1700's To Early 1800's?


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It is very hard to determine historical time zones because all towns and cities kept solar time back then.  In other words, when the sun reached the top of its arc across the sky, it was "high noon" at that spot, and the town and city clocks were set to that time.    The trouble is: When it is high noon anywhere in the continental U.S., high noon has already passed towns 50-60 miles to the east, and it is not quite high noon 50-60 miles to the west.  This is because the sun is always moving, about 1 degree of arc every 4 minutes.  In the continental U.S., one degree of arc is about 50 or 60 miles.  So, no standard time existed in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  For example, if it was noon in Topeka, KS, then it was 12:04pm in Kansas City (eastward) and 11:56am in Ogden, KS (westward).  Though the time differences didn't matter before the building of railroads, it wreaked havoc afterwards as time schedule discrepancies led to head-on collisions of trains.    Due to the railroading problems, by the mid-1800s, Britain went to a single time zone and eventually standardized on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  The U.S. Created standard time zones later on the famous date of Nov. 18, 1883.  As a result, many history buffs and model railroad enthusiasts in the U.S. Now celebrate November as National Railroad Month.

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