History of Trucking

The History of Trucking

Everywhere you look on today’s highways you’ll see long-haul trucks transporting freight, materials and goods from one location to another, whether across the state or clear across the country. Trucking jobs take people places, every day of the year!

The Trucking Industry has an Old and Rich History

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. At one time it was rare to see anything larger than a delivery truck on the road – and it was just a road. We’re talking before there were any real highways. Back in the early 1900’s, any trucks traveling on the roadways rode on solid rubber tires, making the trip very rough and very slow. It wasn’t until around 1920 that most trucks were equipped with pneumatic (air-filled) tires, making the ride much easier on the driver and also allowing the truck to travel at much higher speeds. There were about 10,000 trucks in the whole country in 1910, with many of them being used for deliveries in and around larger metropolitan areas. The Seattle Chamber of Commerce sponsored a truck and driver to travel from Seattle to New York City in 1916. This trip showed the manufacturers and merchants of the country that highways and truck transport were going to become major influences in their lives. The trip from Seattle to New York City took a grand total of 31 days!

Note – if the history of trucking is interesting to you then also look into railroad jobs on JobMonkey. It’s another fascinating transportation field.

In 1912, trucks were equipped with electric running lights to allow them to be driven at night and make up travel time that was previously spent sleeping until the morning light. The fifth wheel innovation came to be in the 1920’s, greatly enhancing the speed with which loads could be picked up and dropped off. During this time, the semi-trailer was becoming more popular and this innovation made a huge impact on the way that freight and cargo were transported. The 1935 Motor Carrier Act presented a set group of regulations for all trucks operating within the country upon the nation’s highways. In 1914, there were less than 15,000 miles of paved roads throughout the whole country, but during the next decade the federal government spent $75 million on new road construction along with the improvement of existing roadways. By the 1930’s there were 329,000 long-haul trucks registered in the country.

During the 1950’s, diesel fuel was a whopping 14.9 cents a gallon! Quite a difference from the fuel costs of today. Trucks with refrigerated trailers ran them on propane which made it necessary to fill up on propane as well as diesel fuel in order to keep frozen items on ice. During the years of World War I, many trucking companies began manufacturing trucks for the war effort. In total, 227,000 new trucks were produced, giving rise to many trucking companies of today including Michigan Motor Freight, Yellow Freight, and Interstate Motor Freight, just to name a few. It’s hard to imagine how our society would be able to function without the aid of the army of truck drivers that transport goods and materials back and forth across this country. With any luck, we won’t have to imagine such a world.

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