Nowadays, it can be hard to imagine a world that isn’t obsessed with automobiles. It isn’t uncommon to see households with a car for every age. So what did we do before cars? How did we become car obsessed? We have the answers.
It may seem obvious, but in the beginning, we walked. This method was by far the most uncomfortable way of travel. Our ancestors made rudimentary sandals from plant fibers and animal skins. Their best chance at a road was a worn-out dirt path making for a rough journey. We had to carry every load, either piling it on our back or pushing and pulling it along with us on our travels.
Luckily by 6000 BC, things started to get brighter. Around this time, when the first cities were being built, we domesticated some animals to carry items. Oxen and donkeys were among the first to help move our loads. At around 4,000 BC, tree trunks were used as rollers to make the loads easier to pull. In 3500 BC, Mesopotamia, where modern-day Iraq is, created the first wheel. This invention was originally three pieces of wood to form a circle. Unfortunately, this version was way too heavy to be helpful, but our ancestors carved out the wood and added spokes to increase the speed and stability. Mesopotamians put these wheels onto sleds to create the first carts. The following change was critical to getting the loads off our backs. In 3000 BC, the first horses were being ridden in central Asia. They were the first animals to be ridden. This discovery quickly led to horse-drawn carriages, making our travels much more effortless.
Rise of the Horse-Drawn Carriage
Even though this made it easier for us, travel was still very slow and uncomfortable with our essential carts for several centuries. People from the Hungarian village, Kocs, in the 15th century attached smaller wheels to the front of the wagon to increase the stability and turnability of their carts. They also put the suspension between the axels instead of on top to make the rides more comfortable. Over the next two centuries, the Kocsi or coach spread widely among wealthy Europeans. By 1625, the coach-for-hire business became very popular in London. Few could afford to take care of a horse, so stables opened for this business.
Increase in Road Quality
The roads were so uncomfortable that despite this popularity, people still preferred riding on horses without a coach if they could. In 19th century America, roadways were usually dirt paths that were Native American trails following animals to water sources. These roads generally had two ruts and a grassy strip that were susceptible to the dangerous effects of weather throughout the year. In addition, they were so narrow that if another buggy met one on a trail, one would often get stuck in a ditch. In 1820, Americans took the idea of turnpikes from Medieval England to improve their conditions. This road was a wider path made of layered crushed stones to help drainage for dangerous weather conditions. By 1904, the United States had built 2 million miles of public highway.
Transition From Horses to Cars
Horse-drawn carriages were essential to building cities and connecting rural America to the rest of the country. Horses kept us alive by aiding firefighters when most homes were made of wood, and any heating or lighting came from open flame. The brigades relied on horsepower to carry heavy equipment and quickly navigate dense traffic to the hundreds of yearly fires. Even in the early 19th century, the steam railroad industry, which took over the horse’s transportation job, became the horses’ biggest owners. They used them to offload the trains once they got to their destination. Several decades later, the first gas engine car was invented by Carl Benz. By the beginning of the 20th century and through mass production, it would be common to see horse-drawn carriages alongside vehicles on the road. Cars weren’t in favor of the American public until 1915, when cars were discernably more reliable and affordable than before. In 1914, there were 4,600 US carriage companies. By 1925, that number was down to 150; by 1929, it was less than 90. Many of these companies grew to accommodate the change on the road and either became assemblers of automobiles by using parts from carriage makers or made their automobiles. Like other auto manufacturers, Henry Ford succeeded by bringing both processes under one roof.
Today, the automobile industry produces more than 70 million vehicles worldwide. With the rise of oil and gasoline in the world, there have been many advancements in the field with their shapes, speeds, and even paint colors. Our cars become sleeker and shinier, making them a big spectacle on the road. Many see a car as a status symbol that can say a lot. What does your car say about you? Consider fixing the little dents and scrapes that come with owning a car to have a ride people will be ogling on the road. Performance Collision Centers offers many services, including paintless dent repair, which leaves your car looking brand new. Our Gold-Class certified technicians will maintain the original factory paint color and finish to remove any surface flaws. Not sure if that is what you need? Check out a location near you, or even get a free estimate from your phone!