A Brief History of Getting Stuff from One Place to Another

Over the course of human history, if a person wanted to get an object from one place to another place, there was always one sure way and for a very long time, only one sure way: He walked it there.

(Though sometimes a short note could be sent via homing or carrier pigeon or owl if you are in one particular fantasy world or raven if you are in another.)

Horse domestication was huge. Big deal. Big thing. We could move more stuff, more quickly. But still only as fast as a horse could ride—and only as much as a horse could hold. (Love you, horse.)

 

But then! The Romans built a system of roads. Horses could run faster, and they could pull carriages!

But then … the Roman empire fell and the roads crumbled. Horses got slow again. (It’s okay, horse.)

There is evidence that the first formal postal service was in China. Posts were set up with fresh horses so that messengers could ride at a gallop the whole way. Then Louis XI established a royal postal service in the fifteenth century, and soon after Henry VII did the same thing in England. BUT: These systems were for official government use only, so no one got to use the galloping horses to send care packages to their nephew several states away even though that is obviously the best and only reason for a mail system to exist.

Boats and ships were also an important part of getting things from place to place, especially as Empires expanded!!

But where there were no waterways, there were still horses. (Still love you, horse.)

As more individuals began writing letters and sending mail, taverns served as central drop points. A tavern in Boston became the official dropping point of all mail going in between the colonies and the England.

Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General of the U.S., having already served as a postmaster in the colonies FOR THE CROWN before he was fired for being a rebel.

The Industrial Revolution was great for a lot of things. Air quality was not one of them, but moving things around was. Motorbikes, cars, and trucks increased the amount of stuff that could be transported and decreased the time it took to do it.

Ships got bigger and better and faster. They moved lots of stuff really quickly (most of the time).

And soon stuff as well as people were flying through the sky.

“Containerization” in 1953 sped the movement of stuff up even more by cutting down on “breaking bulk”—the time it took to take packages and parcels from the boat to the land to the train or the truck. And that’s where we are now. Planes, trains, automobiles, boats … and still, when all else fails, horses. (Love you, horse.)

 

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