Trucks. Without them, we wouldn't have anticipated Amazon deliveries, exotic produce on the table, that comfy durable couch on game day, or, really, anything. The trucking industry, the backbone of commerce, has come a long way since its beginning in 1769. Let's take a look at some early groundbreaking machines…
The mid-18th Century was a period of advanced thinking and exponential engineering. Nicholas Cugnot was a military expert in fortitude, but his claim to fame was developing a system of self-propelled transportation- the steam tractor: a 3-wheeled vehicle that proved to be slow but steady, even though it lacked brakes! This "horseless carriage" looked like a normal old-fashioned lorry, except in lieu of horses, it sported a giant steam barrel. At 5 tons, it could haul it's weight, maxing out at 3 mph, but had to be refilled with water every 15 minutes. It was thought that all models had been lost in the French Revolution, but much to the surprise of historians, the first prototype was discovered and now on display at Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris, France.
A Scottish immigrant, Alexander Winton began his career selling bicycles in Cleveland, OH. Eventually, the lure of money and technology lead him to start dealing in the new-fangled automobile. His company was a success, garnering orders from across America. In order to deliver these mechanical beauties in pristine condition, he invented the very first semi truck. This "automobile hauler" was simply a trailer connected to one of his carriages with an attached back motor. While elaborating further on his hauler to incorporate lumber and ships, Winton mostly spent his life challenging the limits of automotives- inspiring makers like Packard and Ford. Although Winton was mostly known for his influence in the automobile craze, his "rough draft" version of the semi provided the engineering fodder of the future.
By the 1910s, trucks still hadn't gotten off the ground structurally. They were still unstable, needed solid roads, and couldn't handle much wear and tear. It wasn't until the rise of World War I that trucks would come into their own. The Liberty Truck was the hero of the battalions; these 4 tons monsters hauled equipment and artillery (much like it's great-grandfather, the fardier) at a whopping 15 mph. This vehicle was so popular, manufacturers like Mack, Sterling, and Pierce-Arrow helped produce over 10,000 models. The real innovation of this truck comes with the standardization and interchangeability of the parts, making repairs swift and easy on the battlefields. This mechanical regularizationrevolutionized haulers throughout the military, streamlining the building, repair, and maintenance processes.
Out of all the important models on the road, these are just a few examples of how far trucking has come since its earliest inception during the mid-1700s. A necessary function of our society, it's encouraging to know that these ancestral trucks' innovators have always had convenience and functionality at the forefront of their designs.