Monday, October 1, 2012

Taking a Truck Load of Freight Cross Country Didn't Used to be So Simple

They Do Not Make Lorry Drivers Like They Used To
Shipping News Feature

US - Taking a truck the breadth of the country is never an easy feat, when the equipment needed to ensure safe and successful passage includes planks, shovels and ‘skidding boards’, and the lorry only has a measly 40HP out put and the route involves transiting areas with absolutely no made up roads, plus one is carrying a full load of freight, the task becomes positively Herculean.

So Teamsters, next time you are sitting in your upholstered, air conditioned, well heated, power steering equipped cab complaining that your sat nav is playing up spare a thought for what life was like for the original truckers, would be pioneers of the highway (when in fact there wasn’t even a highway in many places to pioneer).

A century ago four hardy souls set off in a three and a half ton Alco truck to make the first ‘intercontinental’ crossing of some of the USA’s then forty eight states from Philadelphia to San Francisco by way of New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Cleveland and Toledo through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska on to Denver, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Reno and finally Sacramento.

The trip was as much a publicity stunt as a commercial transaction attracting as it did huge interest for the products of both the three tons of soap which the Charles W Young company had consigned to its customer and the various products consumed by the crew en route which were strategically placed in the shots taken by the crew’s photographer before forwarding to a host of publications from the New York Times to Commercial Vehicle magazine.

The hardy souls who made this trip found themselves repairing around one hundred wooden bridges which collapsed under the weight of the heaviest vehicle ever to try and cross, they dug mountains of soil, were caught in floods, suffered under baking skies but eventually delivered their cargo safe and sound some ninety one days after setting off – hardly an acceptable performance today but a triumph of the age.

To read a full account of the epic journey click HERE.

Photo: The Alco breaks another bridge.