Modes of Travel History

Modes of Transportation

Modes of Travel

For many thousands of years humans traveled by land on animals. Horses, burros, donkeys, camels and elephants all helped mankind to get from one place to another.


Animals were also used to haul everything from personal belongings to water to manufactured products. Of course, in some places of the world that is still true today.
Early ocean explorers made small boats from the skins of animals, particularly leather and other hides, stretching the skin across the frame of their boats. More advanced manufacturing saw wood and later, iron, being used for bolts, pulleys and bracing.
Evidence shows that Viking explorers entered the St. Laurence Seaway and navigated its tributaries as far westward as they were able to explore, actually making it as far into the central United States as Minnesota.
By the 1400’s many nations had developed seaworthy craft capable of crossing entire oceans. American schoolchildren learn about Christopher Columbus exploring the Caribbean in the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. It’s astonishing to consider that the smallest of these ships was more like a boat, since it had a deck that was only 50 feet long!
As for air travel, early scientists like Archimedes watched birds fly and attempted to emulate them with gliders that a man could strap onto his back and launch himself from a high place. History records that these experiments didn’t go too well, but it was a start.
But the 1700’s lighter-than-air craft in the form of large balloons propelled into the sky by heaters to warm the air inside the balloon became common place.
As the air inside the balloon was warmed, it expanded and lowered the atmospheric pressure inside the balloon until the higher, normal outside air pressure literally pushed the balloon up into the sky.
Hot air balloons can be seen to this day flying all over the world in climates where the air is calm, a classic example of technology that is hundreds of years old and still perfectly usable.
The hot air balloon led to the development of the dirigible which utilizes light gases contained inside a fixed-frame, enclosed compartment to provide powerful lift. The use of hydrogen gas, the lightest of all naturally occurring elements, was discontinued after the tragic Hindenburg catastrophe in 1937. Since that day helium has largely been used.
Even today, dirigibles powered by propellers are used by the military and major civilian contractors to lift extremely heavy items such as trucks, tanks and even steel girders and transport them safely over large distances.
By the beginning of the 1900’s, tinkerers around the world were experimenting with heavier-than-air flight in the form of airplanes with fixed wings. The problem they faced was that gasoline engines of the day were very heavy for the relatively modest amount of horsepower produced.
The Wright Brothers went into the history books as having achieved the first powered flight in 1903. Interestingly, that entire flight from takeoff to landing could be contained inside the cargo area of a modern military ‘heavy’ transport plane.
Commercial aviation was soon to follow when the postal service began making use of airplanes to deliver mail, especially in areas not easily accessible by road. By the 1930’s an entire industry was born with commercial aircraft regularly servicing passenger routes between major cities.
In 1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first successful non-stop flight across the Atlantic, flying from New York to Paris in 33-1/2 hours. Transatlantic commercial air travel was soon to follow.
It was around the turn of the same century, the early 1900’s, that the automobile made its emergence. The earliest motor vehicles borrowed their designs from the locomotives of the day and burned coal to boil water into steam and drive a small turbine to generate power. Later steam driven automobiles burned gasoline to boil fluids and generate steam.
The Stanley Steamer was one of the first commercially successful steam driven motor cars. According to Wikipedia, “A Stanley Steamer set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile (28.2 seconds) in 1906.”
Remarkably, Wikipedia also adds that “The record for steam-powered automobiles was not broken until 2009,” a full 103 years later!
As soon as the automobile became available, immediately it began being used for commercial purposes, such as trucks, buses and taxicabs that could turn a profit for their owners. From the taxicab it was a short hop to the first limousine.
The concept of chauffeured travel dates back many hundreds of years. It was once the common practice of the driver of a carriage drawn by a team of horses to place some hot coals into a small warming pot that was placed on the floor of the passenger compartment to keep the traveler’s feet warm, and to provide some general overall warmth.
The French verb to warm or heat is ‘chauffeur’. Now you know why limousine drivers the world over are know as chauffeurs.
Today’s limousine is a very different creature from the horse drawn carriage. Modern limousines offer every imaginable creature comfort, from luxurious glove leather seats, to wet bars, to flat screen TVs and state-of-the-art surround sound music systems.
The limousine today is arguably the most elegant possible form of commercial ground transportation, and is available on a rental basis to any customer who chooses to rent one, whether for an hour or an entire day.
Individuals rent limos for a wide range of uses, from traveling to a party, a wedding, a funeral, a sporting event, a music concert, the airport, or just for fun sightseeing.
Limousines come in all colors and designs from executive sedans to the impossibly long super stretch that can accommodate parties of twenty people or greater. There is nothing like pulling up in a super sleek, luxury stretch limousine to turn heads and elicit an ‘awesome!’ response.
From high speed powered catamarans that can achieve speeds over the water of 70 miles per hour, to luxury passenger aircraft cruising at 550 miles per hour, to the modern elegant limousine that can cruise down the highway as smooth as silk, causing hardly a ripple in a glass of champagne, mankind continues to refine all of the various modes of ocean, air and land transportation through continuous advances in technology.
One day soon we’ll have to add travel to luxury tourist destinations on the Moon to this list.