Trucks, like this 1920s die-cast model, were featured in the Ship-by-Truck movement.
Today, big trucks are everywhere on the highways and highways, hauling everything from cattle and sheep to large wind turbine blades. But this has not always been the case.
Prior to the early 1900s, shipping was by rail, and freight wagons pulled by mules, horses, or oxen transported goods from the railhead to the towns. Cattle and sheep were driven by horseback to railheads for shipment to eastern feedlots.
HS Firestone, President of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, was one of the first to see the benefits of truck shipping, as well as seeing a new way to sell auto tires and repairs.
In 1918, he launched the Ship-By-Truck advertising campaign, as seen in this October 1919 article from Rock Springs Rocket:
FIRESTONE BEGINS A NATIONWIDE MOVE SHIP BY TRUCK The Ship-By-Truck movement was born with HS Firestone, President of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Offices were established in virtually every city in the country by the Firestone Company. These offices operate completely independently of the tire business. The main function of these offices is to correlate the activities of shippers and trucking companies; locate and establish return offices in all rural communities where agricultural produce can be collected for shipment by motor truck to city markets; obtain data relating to the cost of trucking operations in intercity service; work with truckers and shippers to establish fair truck shipping rates and initiate education campaigns in the interest of trucking among farmers and other freight shippers. It will be seen that the work of the offices corresponds to the work carried out by the road transport committee.
To use trucks to ship goods, better roads were needed. The first National Highway Census in 1904 found that only 141 miles of rural U.S. roads were paved, only 18 had a black tarred roof. Most were little more than gravel county roads.
With a 5,500% increase in motor vehicle registrations between 1900 and 1910, paved roads became a necessity, and the movement of ships by trucks also drew government attention to the condition of the roads. In 1913, the Post Office Appropriations Bill allocated $500,000 to improve roads for rural mail delivery.
This notice below appeared in The Wyoming State Tribune, July 16, 1920. The advertisement for REO Trucks appeared in The Guernsey Gazette, April 1920, also promoting the movement. The copy is below.
ROE TRUCKS Nearly a quarter of global transport is now done by truck! This fact is so heavy with meaning that it deserves more than a simple reflection. “Ship-By-Truck” is the slogan that is adopted across the country, wherever business is conducted, so the truck is quickly becoming a powerful factor in global transportation.
The day of the trucks has arrived. It’s the most convenient hauling method ever devised… It’s an industry that will soon surpass that of the self-tying and threshing machine combined. It’s a growing business that will soon command respect around the world.
The REO Speedwagon was the pioneer light truck. It was the first truck to adopt pneumatic tires and electric lights and starter. Its competitors laughed it off at the time, but have since crumbled to build something as close to REO as possible. It’s a tough, honestly built truck. It’s a fast wagon that will haul more tons per day for a given number of miles than many trucks twice its capacity. A full stock of REO repairs will be carried out right here in Guernsey to provide the consistent service that people demand from a truck. Don’t overlook this feature… If you want a truck this spring, select an REO and place your order NOW to ensure delivery. REO Motor Company DIVER & SHEDRON, AGENTS “THE GOLD STANDARD OF VALUES” REO CARS AND TRUCKS.
Although the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada this week is a protest movement, marches, like the one mentioned below, have been used to promote the idea of using trucks to ship goods across the country.
February 7, 1920 Sheridan Enterprise. TRUCKS PARTICIPATE IN THE GRAND PARADE HERE The “Ship-By-Truck” plan is boosted wwith Big Parade on the main scout roster. 20 large trucks demonstrate significant development opportunities here
At 3 p.m. sharp this afternoon, there was the rhythmic sound of drums and twenty big trucks lined up outside City Hall for the parade held for the first time in Wyoming in an effort to boost the Ship movement. -By-Truck. The truck leading the parade carried the Boy Scouts Corps. Each truck carried a banner reading ‘Ship-By-Truck’
The parade went from City Hall to Algiers Avenue, then to Main Street and south to Burkitt Street. Here it turned and went around the block from the east, back on Main Street, then Main Street to Tiger Ave……
Four quads represented the state highway department, the Sacles Motor company entered two Ford trucks, one with a one-ton capacity and the other half-ton. The Riley Motor Company was represented by two white half-ton trucks. The REO garage had a REO Speed-wagon in the parade…. (Several other brands were included in the parade, Patriots, a Maxwell and a Kissel.) There were also…two Stewarts and Ford trucks carrying a Fordson tractor.
The parade was not intended to advertise various brands of trucks, but to create interest in the Ship-By-Truck movement, which is currently sweeping the country and is being taken up locally by a committee representing the Commercial Club .
Perhaps nothing since the advent of the passenger automobile offers greater opportunities for the rapid development of the country than the Ship-By-Truck movement. It’s about bringing the farms closer to the market by reducing the time needed to reach them, and by making it possible to pull much larger tonnages, provided of course that there are good roads. The Commercial Club makes every effort to develop routes and generate interest in the Ship-By-Truck movement.
Je Sheridan Post Sunday, February 8, 1920. PROMOTING THE ‘Ship-By-Truck’ MOVEMENT Many trucks in the parade yesterday afternoon. The “Ship-By-Truck” parade scheduled for yesterday afternoon kicked off at the stated time, 3 a.m. About 20 truck owners and dealers lined up with their trucks. The parade was led by the Boy Scouts Corps of Drums, with twelve drumming boys and two flag bearers. The guys showed great skill and kept a great time as they walked the streets. In the parade there were all kinds of trucks, large and small, from four-ton monsters to the three-quarter utility truck of “farmers”. On either side of the vehicles hung banners reading “Ship-By-Truck” and usually bearing the name of the truck and the dealer handling it. Each dealership was limited to two trucks, so the number online was not as large as it would have been had there been no restrictions. Some of the dealers loaded tractors onto their trucks and others filled them with tires and other accessories. If the parade was not as big as some had expected, it was nevertheless very believable for the first attempt.
Although some people thought the trucks would compete with the railroad, most disagreed, believing that the trucks would help the railroad and be used only for “short trips”.
In The Sheridan Enterprise, April 24, 1920, there is this article, SHIP BY TRUCK THE PLAN OFFERS MANY REASONS TO CONSIDER With good roads, the truck is very convenient for quickly transporting goods and for bringing agricultural products, especially in an emergency, such as when there is a stop on the railway or when there is a need. a fast service that cannot afford to wait for freight train schedules that are not always respected. Of course, there is no idea that they can ever quite replace steam-powered cars for long-distance transport; but for relatively short distances, freight trucks are ideal. When service is established, we will be more independent of strikes, washouts, freight congestion and the like on the railroads.
Then, too, when we begin to ship by truck, we will have a greater appreciation than ever of the value of good roads, and place greater emphasis on multiplying them and maintaining them until there are no more bad ones. roads in any part of the country to vex the farmers or any others who cross them with any kind of vehicles, and cause them heavy losses. So it is clear that the Ship-By-Truck movement promises to be an excellent uplifting movement in more than one direction, complete convenience and beautiful economy which will mean much for the general good of urban and rural communities and their multiple companies.
In 1956, President Eisenhower expanded America’s transportation system by introducing what was called the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, which later became known as the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. This bill provided $25 billion to develop road infrastructure across the United States. .
These highways are still used today, creating a system of freeways to transport goods and services across the country. Trucks and railroads work in tandem to keep our shelves stocked and our country running. Without trucks, the world would be very different.