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Did you know?
Receiving nation attention during the 1960's and 70's, songs and movies about truck driving were major hits. Finding solidarity, truck drivers participated in widespread strikes. Truck drivers from all over opposed the rising cost of fuel. Not to mention this is during the energy crises of 1873 and 1979. In 1980 the Motor Carrier Act drastically deregulated the trucking industry. Since then trucking has come to dominate the freight industry in the latter part of the 20th century. This coincided with what are now known as 'big-box' stores such as Target or Wal-Mart.
The Motor Carrier Act, passed by Congress in 1935, replace the code of competition. The authorization the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) place was to regulate the trucking industry. Since then the ICC has been long abolished, however, it did quite a lot during its time. Based on the recommendations given by the ICC, Congress enacted the first hours of services regulation in 1938. This limited driving hours of truck and bus drivers. In 1941, the ICC reported that inconsistent weight limitation imposed by the states cause problems to effective interstate truck commerce.
“Country music scholar Bill Malone has gone so far as to say that trucking songs account for the largest component of work songs in the country music catalog. For a style of music that has, since its commercial inception in the 1920s, drawn attention to the coal man, the steel drivin’ man, the railroad worker, and the cowboy, this certainly speaks volumes about the cultural attraction of the trucker in the American popular consciousness.” — Shane Hamilton
In the 20th century, the 1940 film "They Drive by Night" co-starred Humphrey Bogart. He plays an independent driver struggling to become financially stable and economically independent. This is all set during the times of the Great Depression. Yet another film was released in 1941, called "The Gang's All Here". It is a story of a trucking company that's been targeted by saboteurs.
Trucks and cars have much in common mechanically as well as ancestrally. One link between them is the steam-powered fardier Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, who built it in 1769. Unfortunately for him, steam trucks were not really common until the mid 1800's. While looking at this practically, it would be much harder to have a steam truck. This is mostly due to the fact that the roads of the time were built for horse and carriages. Steam trucks were left to very short hauls, usually from a factory to the nearest railway station. In 1881, the first semi-trailer appeared, and it was in fact towed by a steam tractor manufactured by De Dion-Bouton. Steam-powered trucks were sold in France and in the United States, apparently until the eve of World War I. Also, at the beginning of World War II in the United Kingdom, they were known as 'steam wagons'.
In 1893, the Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) was established as an organization. However, in 1905 the name was changed to the Office Public Records (OPR). The organization then went on to become a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. As seen throughout history, organizations seem incapable of maintaining permanent names. So, the organization's name was changed three more times, first in 1915 to the Bureau of Public Roads and again in 1939 to the Public Roads Administration (PRA). Yet again, the name was later shifted to the Federal Works Agency, although it was abolished in 1949. Finally, in 1949, the name reverted to the Bureau of Public Roads, falling under the Department of Commerce. With so many name changes, it can be difficult to keep up to date with such organizations. This is why it is most important to research and educate yourself on such matters.