My Side of the Cave - A Look at Our World With a Little Common Sense Thrown In HTML version

Chapter 2
Travel and the romance with our cars.
Invention and transportation
Here in America and around the world, the movement of people from one place to
another sparked the imagination of early modern man. This may have begun when
someone found that he could hitch a ride on one of his four legged friends.
Someone then built a crude wagon that could be towed behind a horse or oxen or donkey.
So began our affair with early forms of transportation, be it on land or water and later in
the air.
The steam engine was first invented by Thomas Savery in 1698 and later was used on
both land and water. An early locomotive was built in England during the 17th century to
be used on rails. Steam powered boats were first used in the United States in 1787,
invented by Robert Fulton. Steam powered locomotives were used in the early to mid
1800s and flourished during the Civil War. The Central Pacific Railroad built the first
transcontinental lines, allowing travel across the country.
The first successful internal combustion engines came along in the late 1800s through the
successes of Gottlieb Daimler and Samuel Morey. Invention of the automobile by Karl
Benz came soon after.
It is this invention of the automobile that has so captured the love of the American public.
It was Henry Ford’s assembly line that built cars so quickly and cheaply, and therefore
allowed nearly every American to purchase one. Ford said, “It was a car for the common
Owning and driving your own car became an American phenomenon. To this day owning
a home and a car remains a top priority for most Americans.
Travel is now possible on the ground, over the waters, in the air and soon, in space. We
are no longer limited to a confined area. Our neighborhood, our state, our country, our
world and the unlimited space beyond has expanded our limitations.
Mud paths to interstates
In early America, many native Indians used pathways created by animals to get from one
place to another. The rivers were also used for transportation, hunting and fishing.
The American frontiersman followed this patchwork of trails and expanded them to allow
more general movement and the creation of small villages along the way.
These pathways were used throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. During the Civil War,
both the northern and southern armies used and improved these thoroughfares.
The advent of the automobile in the early 1900s, created a need for more and better
corridors. In time, hard surface roads replaced dirt, dust and mud. The race was on.
The 1956 Highway Act and President Dwight Eisenhower started the interstate highway
system. These new roadways tied together counties, states and country. General travel