Mode of Travel and Transport

Figure 1.--.

Early man walked or ran for short distanes. This limited interactions and movement as well as trade. The domestication of beasts of burden gradually changed this. The ransport of goods over long distances became possible. caravan trains crossed the trackless plains and deserts of Central Asia. The costs were, however, were enormous which limited commerce. Roads were a rarity and the marvel of civilizations like Persia and Rome. For the most part, the efficent transport of goods had to be conducted by water. But this long distance warer trabsport required advances in technolohy. Basic boats or river barges were developed, but long distance ocean transport required important advances in technology. Cinsidrable distances can be achieved by hugging coastlines, but the lack of true ocean tranport kep many people isolated until the modern era. Canals were built by ancient people both for irrigation and tarnsport. The technology fot ocean transport finally was achieved (15th century). Efficent new methods of transport were developed utilizing steam engines, both the rail road and the steamboat (19th century). Finally the automobile and airplan appeared at about the same time, primrily because both used efficent engines to power them was the primary technological problem that had to be solved.


Early man walked or ran for short status. Actually an errect posture and efficent walking is an attribute of mankind. No other porivate developed efficent walking and running caoabilities. Not only did walking greatly improve t mobility, but it freed the hands for tasks like carrying loads and making tools. Walking is a slow, but effective mode of tranport. Archeologists now believe that the human speecies spread around the planet by walking long before beasts of burden and eventually the horse were domesticated. Walking is not, however, and effective method for transporting goods. Man can only carry small loads when walking and minimal loads when running.

Beasts of Burden and Caravans

As horses and other large animals were domesticated, transport of goods over long distances became possible. The first caravans were donkey caavans. The donkey was the first somesticated beast of burden. The donkey is, however a small animal which limited the the loads which could be transported. And donkeys required food and water, limiting movement--especially across desert areas. Mountains also created barriers. The deserts were finally breeched with the domestication of the cammel. Caravan trains crossed the trackless plains and deserts of Central Asia. The costs were enormous. The caravan track accross Central Asia was called the Silk Road because it brought silk and other valuable Chinese products to Europe. Romans and subsequent Europeans coveted silk, but for centuries Chinese emperors retained the secret of silk production as a state secret. While commerce was conducted through caravans this was a extremely expensive way of conducting commerce. and pasage through political jurisdictions also meant dded cist. Thus the cost of goods trnsported over the silk Road were astronomical. Only the rich, the very rich, could afford such goods. Arab and Ottoman domination of the wesern terminus of the silk road created a desire among Europeans to establish direct trade routes to the East. Chinese silks and porceline as wll as the spices owere the principal empetus for the European voyages of discovery in the 15th century.

Oar and Sail Boats

For the most part, the transport of goods had to be conducted by boat or river barge until the mid-19th century. Boats were faster and less expensive. This made rivers a major factor in commerce and communication, making possession of rivers of great strategic importance. No where was this more obvious than North America. New Orleans because it sat at the mouth of the Mississippi, which drained half of North America, was crucial in determining who would dominate the continent. Farmers west of the Aplachaens had no way to market their crops other than to flot them down the Mississpi.

Stage Coaches


Canals were built by ancient people both for irrigation and tarnsport. As European economies developed, the existing rivers proved in adequate to the needs of commerce. Canals were buolt in England, France, and elsewhere in Europe. The canals played a major role in the early phase of the industrial revolution in Europe. Extensive canal construction began in England during the mid-18th century. The Duke Bridgewater at age 22 began the constructiin of canals hen he deciuded to connect his coalmines with cotton mills in Manchester 6 miles distant. The canal eventually extended 46 miles. The cost was enormous and the Duke had to sell his estates and borrow momey. He engaged a millwright, James Brindley, to construct his canal. Brindley had no formal education, but was inventive. He reportedly modeled his aqueducts in cheese. His designs set the standard for canals in the English midlands. The Duke's canal accomodated wide river barges. Brindley worked on many other canals, designinging them more narrow to sav money in construction. Narrow canal barges wer bilt which required little water in relation to carrying capacity. Bridgewater finally opened his canal in 1761, making him a fortune and helping to inspire canal building projects throughout the Midlands. Joseph Wedgewood and other 18th century industrialists were impressed. The economic advantages were starteling. Coal delivered by land had cost 65 pence a ton, delivered by canal it only coist 35 pence. Wedgewood proceeded to organize a group of potters to finance a canal to connect their factories with Liverpool wearhouses. Wedgewood and other English potters had a large domestic market, but faced severe difficulties in shipping raw marials to their factories and the finished product to markets. [Hornik, pp. 53-54.] An extensive canal system was never built in America, but some canals were built in the early 19th century. The Eire Canal in particular played a major role in the economy of the northeast and the opening of the American West.

Steam Power


Efficent new methods of transport were developed utilizing steam engines, both the rail road and the steamboat. Railways appeared in the early-19th century and were a major factor in the economy by the mid-19th century. The new railroads which rapidly spread across Europe and America helped spread the new iundustrial economy. Railways pre-dated the steam engine. By the mid-18th century the plate or rail track were being used to move coal from the pithead to the colliery or furnace, especially in England. The coal was powered by ponies or people. After the turn of the 19th century, flat were being used outside London, Sheffield, and Munich. Soon they spread to other large cities as well. Europe's rapidly expanding industrial economy created a need for improved and more efficient transport. Richard Trevithick first employed an engine to pull trucks--at a Cornish mine. A railway was opened in the 1830s from Liverpool to Manchester. It was here that George Stephenson employed "Rocket" to pull a train of cars reaching 14 miles per hour. The histoy of railroads varied from country to country. England was the first country to be heavily covered by railroads in part because England led Europe in the industrial revolution. England experienced a railroad building boom in the 1840s. Railroads faced many difficulties, including vested interests. Canal operators, turnpike trusts, and horse breeders opposed the railroad, but the effiency of moving goods over rails made the railroads impossible to resist. Falling prices for iron and improvements in machine tools were other factors. England by the 185os possessed an extensive network of railways. Trains were transporting both people and goods 30-50 miles per hour--speeds unimagineable even a decade earlier. It was freight that became the minstay of the railroads. The British Government in the 1850s intervened to regulate the railroads, creating monopolies to prevent caotic bulding, but limiting prices. Even so, by World War I (1914-18) British railroads had developed problems--overcapitalization, rising costs, and state regulation. British railroad construction was soon followed by construction on the continenbt, in many cases financed by Britsh investors. British equipment and technicians also played an important role. France in the 1840s built a railway system combining private and public enterprise. German railway construction was complicated by the many different states. Army commanders by the 1860s saw the military potential of railways. Railways played an important role in the America Civil War (1861-65) and Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Railways were especially impotant in linking large countries like America, Canada, and Russia.



The bicycle is a wheeled vehicle having a tandem arrangement of the wheels with a saddle for the rider, a steering handle, and gear for propulsion by the feet. The modern bicycle is the result of a long history of technological development. Bikes were originally developed for adults. Bikes at first were quite expensive, too expensive for children. Versions for children appeared by the late-19th century, but because of the cost, these were only for children from wealthy families. After World War I the bicycle became more afordable and in some countries such as America became a standard play item. Boys in particular liked to be photographed with their bikes. Thus many photographs exist of boys in casual clothes with their bikes. Early photographs, however, are staged shots, some times with the boys wearing their sunday best suits.

Motorized Vehicles

Before the turn of the 20th century the automobile appeared. No mechanical device affected American culture more than the automobile. Much of the growth in the American economy after the turn of the 20th century was centered on the new automobile. The American economy by the 1920s was to a large extent centered on the automobile. It was the industry centered on the automobile and trucks that peovided the back bone for the arsenal of democracy that helped defeat the NAZIs and Japanese militarists in World War I. The autmobile also have a profound cultural imapct on America. City planning began to take place when the automobile in mind. Sometimes more attention was given go the automobile than people. The autmobile made possible the move to the suburbs, especilly after World War II. There wre many other cultural impacts of the automobile. Few events were more important for an America boy than obtaining that all important driving license. Other countries were similarly affected, but not to the same extent as the United States. Historical images of boys' clothing sometimes appeared in automobile adverisements. Many American families would have photographs taken around the family automobile. It is interesting to notec when searching through E-Bay, the number of American portraits picturing the children and parents with the family car.


There are two kinds of aircraft, lighter and heavier than air craft. Working with lighter-than-air craft was the technologically simplier effort. The first flight was with a hot-air baloon in France (18th century. These ballons had little commercial interest, but som military applicatoins, especially battlefield observation. It was Count Zeppelin in Germany that built the first rigid structure lighter-than-air craft. His Zeppelins were used unsucessfully in World War I, but found some commercial success until the cartratrophic Hindenburg disaster. The related non-rigid blimps proved to have greater military value. They were used by the British as barage balloons during the Battle of Britain (1940). There real importance was the use by the American Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic (1942-45). The Wright brothers in 1903 accomplished the first sustained flight of a heavier than air craft. This was an accomplishment that a numbr of Europeans had been working on for several years. Surprisingly two American bicycle repairmen with little funding and only basic educations accomplished it. For several years the Wright Flyers were the only safe airplanes. The airplane proved to be of enormous military and commercial importance. Air power in just a few years revolutionized warfare. It also revolutionized travel. What began has a very expensive mode of transport for the wealthy after World War II with the introduction of jet engines became the primary mode of transport for people of all classes.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main transport page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: June 28, 2003
Last updated: 10:53 PM 2/5/2016