(Photos from the Detroit Public Library Digital collection) We’re back with a fresh installment of Truckology! This is our look back at trucks and the world of trucking from more than 100 years ago. The images here all come from the Detroit Public Library’s sprawling and massive online digital collection. It is an awesome resource and it provides a literal portal into the past of this country on just about every topic you could ever dream of searching up.
As a little kid I became obsessed with the history of trucks and of the trucking industry because of a book my grandfather game me. The book, called “This Was Trucking” was filled with the same types of images you will see below. Images of the brutish, simple, and punishing looking machines that literally loaded the country onto their collective backs each day and moved it around. The open cabs, the hard tires, the stuff hanging off of the rigs, all captured my imagination and it still does today.
Truck manufacturers, like those making cars were obsessed with getting their name out and making some publicity for themselves. They went on tours with the trucks, they drove them up mountains, and they did all kinds of endurance runs to prove that their stuff worked better than the rest. Of course no one mentioned that to go 1700 miles it took a month or to climb Pikes Peak it took weeks, the fact that they did it was the payoff. Incidentally, when you see the image of the truck that “climbed Pikes Peak” imagine driving it DOWN the mountain! Yes, it was geared to go slow but you’d still need the brakes!
Chain drives, cool moving trucks, and a little GMC pulling a trailer up the hill, these images are so awesome.