The history of the road

It could be said that the history of roads began tens of thousands of years ago, or even further back if you consider the fact that the first roads that humans might have followed were also trails formed by animals on paths leading a food or water source. Dirt roads are still in use today, though modern roads, and the methods by which we travel upon them, have evolved and expanded. From the dirt roads our ancestors walked on, to the smooth, paved asphalt that we take for granted every day, roads are immensely important to our civilization. The evolution of roads spurred the development of new technologies, and helped improve existing ones.


Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

The Carriage

Wagons and carriages have existed almost as long as the wheel. From a simple box on a wooden axle with stone wheels, to the carriages of royalty, embroidered in gold and made by master craftsmen, carriages were the first means of transporting large loads, or transporting smaller loads, like people, slightly more comfortably. Pulled by domesticated animals, mainly horses, carriages allowed people to travel long distances with most of their possessions, enabling them to populate otherwise uninhabited areas. In essence, wagons were the first mobile homes.

The Automobile in America

With the invention of the internal combustion engine came the innovation of the internal combustion engine automobile. The first internal engine, gas powered vehicle was made by Charles Edgar Duryea, who later formed the Duryea Motor Company, in 1892 and was the start of the booming auto industry in the United States.  In 1908, Henry Ford developed the Model T, and improved the assembly line process, both increasing the production and reducing the cost. Ford’s Model T was significantly cheaper than the other vehicles in production around the time, and as such, the number of cars on the road increased exponentially. This led to the development of the many automobile  industries that we see today such as mechanic shops and gas stations, as well as creating suburban developments. Before cars became affordable to the average person, workers had to live near their place of business. Afterwards, workers could live farther away, and just commute to and from their jobs every day.

Henry Ford next to his Model T, one of the first American mass produced cars.  Image courtesy of autolife

Image courtesy of auto




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *