January/February 2014 Lite Challenge: Town of Leak
Here's a circle, and a square, and a triangle. This will get a bunch more details - I'm shooting for a style like that of circa 1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps... start rummaging among those at your own risk - Perry-Castañeda alone has hundreds, and many other US states have online archives.
A bit of story, that I'll elaborate on as I go - in some land on some planet, a major city had to import its water with a truly massive aqueduct. No big deal - any major empire with hundreds of thousands of forced laborers over a hundred years could construct such a project. Thing is, one part of the aqueduct route was subject to quakes, and had to be repaired every so often. The location of this trouble area was up in the mountains above a desolate desert plain. Nobody lived anywhere near, nor was there much of a way to support a community to do repairs. For a while army camps sufficed, since one can order one's army into really crummy conditions at will. But eventually an administration with some engineers and some civil ambition set up a permanent solution: an oasis town watered by a fraction of the flow of the very aqueduct that needed servicing.
Hardy pioneer types (i.e. unscrupulous ruffians, profiteering entrepreneurs, jailbirds, and persons of low repute and less opportunity) were set up downhill from the typical area of fractures, and masons were hired to provide the expertise. A land route was needed through the area, so the town doubled as a waypoint on a desert highway, and the officials permitted a defined fraction of the flow to be diverted, in return for perpetual responsibility for repairs. The place and the people were mostly left alone, so long as water continued to flow.
Fast forward a hundred years or two. The setup has matured to a prosperous town. The desert highway is gone - bypassed by a better automobile route to the east. On the other hand, a trans-desert railroad has a need for a water stop, and wells don't flow here. Leak, though, has a dependable flow from uphill, and constuitutes a sort of civilization, so the railroad has been filling locomotives here for a good forty or fifty years. If you want a rough equivalent in technology and tone, picture the American southwest, maybe between 1880 and 1910.
Desert means dry, not necessarily hot, and the area indeed suffers bitterly cold winters. This frequently ices over the flow from the diversion station uphill, so the town has an ample reservoir to store months worth of their needs. Once the top freezes, the depths tend to stay liquid, so trains and townspeople never lack for a drink.
A large water tower or three would have been good enough circles for this contest, but this freezing bit tends to solidify aboveground tanks. Plus they're teeny, compared to a town plat. So I gave the railroad a turntable. Any locos needing maintenance park in a nice square engine house. And there's a big triangular city park around the reservoir - the only green for hundreds of miles in any direction. What you see below is just a street layout, and the required elements. Tracks will come later, since I'll have to lay them out carefully.
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