This timeline diverged somewhere in the 1700's. One of the first major
indicators of this divergence was when the U.S. Constitution did not
get passed. Instead, a series of modifications to the Articles of Confederation
were made. This satisfied some states, but as time goes by, others separated
completely from the Union (including a version of the Confederacy). The
U.S. thus was far weaker and had to compete with the separate states for
resources, land, and power.
Indians were able to fight these weaker states to a draw, creating an
Indian Confederation which stretched roughly from the Sierra Nevada to
the Mississippi. This cut off any attempts by these states to spread westward.
None of this really affected California much for three decades - being
the unfashionable end of the Spanish Empire meant that most world events
just passed it by. However, after the Spanish were thrown out of Mexico
and Inturbide installed himself as Emperor of Mexico (in this timeline,
he hung on to the post long enough to make the Mexican Empire a more permanent
polity) he began to do what all those in power do with lands that no one
much cares about (like California at the time), he dumped all his undesirables
By 1831 over ten-thousand people - and that's a lot compared to California's
population - have been moved there. California, which has never been too
keen on the officials that were appointed from afar to rule it, "rebels"
(a bloodless coup) and declares itself independent. Mexico can't really
do much about this because it's having trouble with Indian uprisings, and,
after one brief troop landing, California defacto "wins" it's
independence. The Californian state includes both Alta and Baja California.
Mexico will still claim it for the next sixty-odd years though.
As a separate nation, California makes a series of close ties with Britain,
resulting in several mild waves of immigration from there. East coast Americans,
along with those in Mexico that feel moving would be a good...move, also
immigrate, but not in any great numbers.
While this is going on, Russia throws more support behind it's Northern
California colony than it did on this line. Eventually, this gives them
an area of control covering a large chunk of California north of the bay
area, and some of what would have been Oregon. Along with their Alaskan
territories, this eventually forms what's known as Czarist America
English speakers, while not as large a percentage here as they were
on this line, slowly move into positions of power. However, there is enough
of a Spanish speaking population that many, many loan words get absorbed
into the local English, along with simplified spelling of some things (Spanish
is much more phonetic than English), and some grammar changes. By the 19th
century the language has changed enough that it is pretty unintelligible
to pure English speakers - though speakers of "Espanglish" can
understand English if it's spoken slowly and loudly to them.
California also gets around to formalizing it's government - up till
now it's mostly been run by tradition - and writes a constitution, becoming
The Republic of California
. It should be noted that mostly the same
people remain in power. A flirtation with that government building a railroad
sours (badly) the people of California from having the government build
transport systems (including roads! Though, it must be admitted,
this was sort of an accident of the legislation passed after the S.F.
& Monterey Rwy
collapsed amidst cries of "embezzlement!"
And by the time folk realize this, the railways have enough political clout
to keep it unmodified and on the books).
Over three-thousand ex-slaves, fleeing from the failed "Texas Revolt"
(The "Free Texas State" isn't, and won't be until the early 20th
century) end up in Southern California (or, more correctly in a California
that stretches from the Bay Area to the tip of Baja, "Middle"
California), eventually starting their own town in the Tujunga Valley.
Mexico finally recognizes California as an independent state during
a war with the Indian Nation to the north. This eventually results in the
two becoming major trade partners.
A natural flooding, followed by some artificial help, creates a (mostly)
freshwater lake in the Salton Sink - the Widney Sea. For a while, the
success of this creation makes California a little lake-making crazy. Amongst
others, there is a fair sized (if shallow) lake created north-east of the
Palos Verdes peninsula created by channeling the L.A. River into it, and
a constantly rising and falling lake in the southern San Gabriel Valley
created by damming the Whittier Narrows. These lakes suffer from wild variability
of area, but between them and the Widney Sea, the local climate is ameliated
somewhat. Average rainfall is one to five inches higher than on our line.
The planting of several forests (mostly as tree farms) helps, as do worldwide
climatic changes (see below).
A sort of Farm Co-op/Nation/Company Town (it really defies description)
called the Owen's Incorperacy
splits off (though it was never really
attached all that much) when California attempts to build an aqueduct from
the area. It survives, and flourishes, by farming and an active trade with
the Indian Nation to it's east.
The world continues to roll by. California becomes known as a major
site for scientific research - and fresh produce. By the time of this
story it is, while not one of the major nations on the planet, at least
influential in world affairs. It's main products remain agricultural, but
an increasingly large export is in electronics, power systems, and various
Somewhere around 1965, someone notices that the world's average temperatures
have been dropping recently. This starts a loonnng
argument in scientific
circles about long-term climatic change, but by the 1980's it's pretty
much assumed that - if nothing is done - the world will be in a full
fledged ice-age soon. "What To Do" becomes the next "loonnng
argument in scientific circles" - spreading quickly to political
circles as well (especially in the more northern countries). At the current
time, no real solution has been decided on - though releasing large quantities
has a large following (in spite of it being considered economically
unfeasible to release sufficient levels to warm the planet).
The level of technology on this line can generally be thought of as
equivalent to our late 19th
, early 20th
century levels. The primary reason
for this is that on this timeline, the factors that supported the creation
of massive assembly lines did not occur. Individual parts
rails) and other simple objects (like dishes) are mass-produced, but there
is a cultural blind-spot obscuring the concept of assembling complex devices
mass-productively. For the most part anything people make is made one at
a time by craftsman (though it should be noted that this does not
mean the lack of shoddy merchandise. It's quite possible to make things
one at a time badly
- see the stock of the average Pier One Imports
Still, on the average, many things are made better
than their equivalents here).
There are a couple of exceptions to this general trend. These are the
electronics and power system industries.
Electric traction comes in big in California in the late 1880's, early
1890's - a trifle earlier than on this line. And on this line, electric
railways and trolleys lack competition from government built roads. They
flourish - and spur on the creation of electrical generation facilities.
In 1892, Tesla gives a radio demo at California's Universidad San Pablo.
Impressed, Sierra Foothill Rwy's
Electromotive Division hires him
(bribe of "all the electricity you can eat" - which will prove
expensive in later years) and sets him up in a research facility built
on a spur north of Goldfield. Over the next few decades he puts out a string
of electrical inventions that make California a leading producer of generating
& electronic facilities. And, in 1921, he comes up with his biggest
invention (though he doesn't know it at the time) - a high-energy plasma
containment system which creates artificial "ball-lightning."
Fifteen years later when physicists come up with theories of nuclear fusion
to explain the sun - someone at SFR makes the connection and has a brilliant
The first fusion powerplant fires up in 1937.
Due to inherent limitations of the containment system, any single reactor
is limited to about thirty-thousand kilowatts output. This is rather small, and
results in them being built both in large numbers at a single site and
large number of single units built to power small areas. This decentralizes
the power grid considerably.
Electronics are spurred on by Tesla as well, and by the time of this
story they are in some ways about a decade or so ahead of this timeline.
However the vast majority of devices produced are job-specific, specially
created chips. The idea of mass-producing large numbers of the same
chip - and the concept of the general-purpose chip - is only just catching
on. It's anyone's guess whether the concept of mass producing things will
cross over from the realm of tiny chips to bigger things (like cars or
furniture). This may not be a conceptual leap the residents of "Trolley
World" can make yet.
There is little use of plastic on this timeline. Plastic's big advantage
is in use in injection molding hundred's of thousands of identical objects
on assembly lines - and there aren't any. This lack of wide spread use
makes it considerably more expensive than on our line. Still, some specialized
uses for it are found in the electronics industry and, recently, their
has been a fad for (expensive) plastic jewelry!
Since the mid-sixties, fusion engines have been putting British, German
and Greater Japan spacecraft into orbit. The moon, Mars, Venus, and the
asteroids have all been explored by manned vehicles. However, there are
manned vehicles, so this line's knowledge of the outer planets
is far poorer than ours.
As should be obvious, the vast majority of transport - both of people
and cargo - goes by rail, the largest percentage of that, electrified.
Rail transport there carries a larger percentage of shipped materials than
the combined total of rail and road here.
There are a small (relative to this Earth) number of passenger and cargo
road vehicles out there. The lack of assembly-lines, however, keep them
very expensive and the lack of good roads doesn't help promote them either.
Most cars would be considered "Off-Road" vehicles here.
One place where there are
a lot of cars/trucks is in the emergency
services (fire/ambulance/police) and construction vehicle areas, as their
need to get to more places than those serviced by rail outweighs the cost.
It should be noted that a great many of these vehicles are "duel-mode"
- able to travel both on rails and the ground.
air transport as well. Large number of cargo and passenger
dirigibles are out there. However, they are mainly competing with water
transit, or covering routes that are not economical enough for a rail line
to be built, as the speed/time advantage of a dirigible over a train is
too small in most cases to make up for the additional costs.
Most dirigibles are quite large, to take maximum advantage of the fusion
reactor(s) that power them. The smaller are mostly hydrogen burners.
Airplanes have a much smaller role in transit on this world, primarily
because being about the only vehicle there that uses petrochemical fuels,
the market for such fuels is too small to bring the price down to economical
levels (of course, most governments have quite large numbers of military
aircraft, as they aren't bound by the same economic factors). Trolley-World
has begun experimenting with hydrogen-powered airplanes (hydrogen can be
made cheaply), but the problems of cryogenic storage and range are hampering
efforts. Still, there are
aircraft out there, but their roles (apart
from the above mentioned military ones, and sports-craft for the terribly
well-to-do) are limited to those packages/people who "absolutely,
positively, have to get there overnight", and the numbers of such
packages/people on this world are substantially less than on ours.
There is still horse-transit out there (well, there still is some here,
too). However, horses have always been expensive, so their role is limited
primarily to rural areas, lacking in other options.