(Editorial Note: Part 156 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Franklin County Citizen, April, May, 1920 editions; Managers of Stokes, IFA, Bomgaars, Valley Wide)
In the last two months the county population has become aware of empty shelves in stores where we have sought supplies for our individual needs. Hopefully we have also come to realize the difference between what we need and what we want. Often those shelves continue to be bare, and we have sought other sources, only to find that those sources could not provide either.
Even when ordering online or by mail there is waiting period before it can be delivered to the doorsteps, similar to delivery to the businesses. Amazon, UPS, Fed Ex, none of these can meet the demands unless there is some means of transporting the goods to the desired destination. If an airplane is the original carrier, it still must can connect with another carrier to distribute further away from the airport.
During the spring of 1920, a century past, a new slogan, “ship by truck,” was being used by the country’s inhabitants. At that time, area residents used the Sears & Roebuck and Mongomery Ward catalogs regularly. It was a matter of filling out an order blank with a pen, slipping it and the payment into an envelope, applying a stamp and seeing that the missive got into the hands of the U. S. Postal Service. Much of the nation was agricultural and rural addresses were common. From there the big companies had the task of sending the items back. They were coming to depend largely on trucks, although even the freighting wagons of an earlier day were still in use.
In April, 1920 the readers of the Franklin County Citizen were mainly engaged in agriculture. Preston’s business men depended on the purchases of the people on local farms. If they hadn’t heard the slogan before it was there in print. “The slogan ‘ship-by-truck’ has spread across the continent in comparatively short time. Today it means more to the farmer, the business man and the average individual than the announcement that a new railroad is shortly to be constructed, from the very obvious fact that while the country is waiting for the new railroad to function, the ship-by-truck movement is growing greater and greater and more trucks are being sold and placed in operation by farmers, contractors, hauling companies and stage lines.”
This “ship by truck” movement made preparations to run a gigantic truck train to travel from Salt Lake City, UT, to Boise, ID. It would not be a contest, not an advertising scheme. There was no connection with certain distributors or dealer organizations. The plan was to prove the flexibility of the truck and to demonstrate the need for good highways all over the west. The truck drivers and companies wanted to educate the public to the fact that the truck had come into its own and was here to stay.
Although the Model T Ford and other vintage vehicles were available, they were often just a dream for the general population still be using a team of horses to carry goods. The manager of the proposed truck train would visit each town along the road to be traveled and make arrangements for both board and room for the ”men folk and trucks” before their arrival. In this area the train would pass through Cache Valley, Preston and Dayton on the Yellowstone Highway as it made its way to Boise.
The effort was to feature the “modern transportation facilities that had combined to create a new and growing commercial advantage of importance” for the businessman, the farmer and the individual. “Good roads, spider-webbing the rural districts adjacent to all populous centers like Buffalo, New York, form one of the facilities referred to. The fast and commodious automobile truck is the other. United they have built up a service which is proving its value to all who have come in contact with it. City merchants, storekeeper, artisans, and residents of smaller towns as well as the farmers along the main connecting roads are finding the truck service of great practical value and shipping by truck is becoming increasingly popular.”
The “Ship by Truck “ train came into Preston on schedule time on its way to Downey, the stopping place for that evening. The train stayed in Preston for three hours during which a meeting was held in the Preston Opera House with the topic for discussion of “good roads.” There were 16 trucks in the caravan. The organizers announced that several trucks that should have been with the train had been delayed on their way from the east. “The train was a mighty good illustration to the farmers that the truck way is the only way to haul produce.”
The current demands of our populace have come to our attention recently with the needs of life while dealing with the COVID 19 virus. For the businesses in Preston that are open it is the truckers fulfilling the orders. The agricultural stores report anywhere from two to seven trucks arriving within a week’s time. Stokes Market which supplies products for different needs, counts around 55 trucks in one week. Trucks have definitely come into their own and are “here to stay.”