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Transportation: General

This pictorial focuses on the progress that has been made in transportation over the years to mobilize society. From the horse and buggy era to our motorized buggies of today.

Transportation History.

From Horse and Wind Power to Engines.

Horses dominated as the primary form of land transportation for over 5,000 years, while water transportation used wind to power their small sailing ships. For 3,000 years prior to the advent of horse power, sailing vessels were the only power available to transport humans. The world remained like distant islands isolated by the limits of transportation. Discovery was a long arduous and dangerous proposition that only a few dared to attempt. Most of the first explorers never survived the ordeal to tell the folks back home about their experience.

The accidential discovery of fire is the single most important event in the evolution that set mankind apart from all other forms of life on our planet and began the path on which we traveled to thus far.

However, it wasn't until the 1600s when [Thomas Savery] demonstrated a practical use for steam power that the evolution in transporation began. A century later, [James Watt], Scotsman, refined Savery’s steam engine and in 1787 the first boat powered by a steam engine was produced by in America by [John Fitch]. Then in 1804 [Richard Trevithick] built the first steam engine that replaced horses used for pulling wagons over iron rail system, which led to the first railroad being started by [Stockton & Darlington Railway Company] in 1825.

In spite of the progress brought on by steam engines, individuals still relied on a horse to get around locally. The idea of a means to transport individuals by means other than a horse back had been thought of by [Leonardo da Vinci] and [Isaac Newton], both had drawn plans for such a contraption. In 1769 Frenchman [Nicholas Joseph Cugnot] came up with a steam engine to power a vehicle, but it wasn't very practical because it had to stop about every 10 minutes to build of steam to power it -- not nearly as efficient as a reliable horse. The combustion, which was first invented in 1680 by Dutchman [Christiaan Huygens], was what would eventually relegated horses to pastures, but not before a long period of development. Finally, [Gottlieb Daimler] patented an improved design of the Otto internal combustion engine which he put to use in 1886 on a converted stagecoach, the first [four-wheeled automobile]. These noisey motorized buggies weren't very reliable and they were relegated to a status given novelty items. No one believed they were a serious contender to a horse and buggy. That is until [Henry Ford] came along and in 1913-14 invented an assembly line using conveyor belts to mass produce a reliable motorized buggy, which caught on like wild fire. Also see: [Car Creator Henry Ford]

Local Transportation History.

The first settlement in the valley was at Saginaw in 1815, for more than a century people traveled around the valley by foot or horse over land and by boats over the available waterways. Steamships plied to and from ports hauling goods to the early settlements until railroads arrived around the later 1870s to haul timber from the deep forests to mills along riverbanks. Even then, the people relied on horses or boats to get around.

As the population of settlements grew to a significant size, railway service between them and large cities became available, and locally, mass transit systems which were streetcars pulled by a team of horses. Electrically powered street cars replaced horses, but horse and buggies still remained important in meeting the transportation needs of individuals until around 1920 when the presence of Henry Ford’s loud motorized buggies overwhelmed and scared the heck out of horses to the dismay of their owners. Imagine all of the progress that has been made in the short span of two life-times. Gone are the beaten paths that were paved over with asphalt; blacksmiths have been replaced by auto repair shops, and streets that once were filled with droppings from horses to avoid, are filled with potholes. One can only wonder about what tomorrow will bring that will replace our present forms of transportation.


Transporation for Aviation, Railroads and Maritime are covered in separate pictorials. presentation.

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