A Brief History of Product Shipping

A Brief History of Product Shipping

While technological advancement has resulted in a boom for globalization and connection in recent years, shipping products around the world is not a new concept. In fact, in the early 19th century, flat boats and rafts were used to transport goods from one place to another.

The 1800s

That’s right, people were shipping products around the world as early as the nineteenth century. Robert Fulton launched the very first successful steamboat service on the Hudson River in 1807. Shortly following, steamboats gained some serious momentum and were carrying thousands of passengers and tons of cargo up and down coasts and rivers.

Between the 1830s and 1869, the first commercial railroads began to surface. The tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad merged together to create the ultimate Transcontinental Railroad -- a system that was designed to stretch from one ocean to the other. By 1890, railroads moved more than 690 million tons of cargo.

The 1900s

For the first half of the 20th century, inventors created electrical motors and internal combustion engines to power modes of transportation. By the 1930s, automobiles became increasingly popular. The interstate Highway System was introduced in 1956, and resulted in major growth in the trucking industry. Trucks are responsible for a huge percentage of American commercial shipping activity today.


Today, there are roughly 12 million rail cars, trucks, locomotives, and vessels that move goods across the United States transportation network. This is in part thanks to the growth in online shopping. The American e-commerce revenue has reached almost $423.3 billion, and moved more than 18.79 billion tons of cargo per year by 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Just as so many other things have advanced throughout history, so has the product shipping industry. We can only guess at how it will continue to advance in the future.

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