If all the cars and all the trucks in America were on the road at once, we’d have a backup across the entire country. Your experiences on I-96 may lead you to think this has already happened.
Trucks sometimes seem to out-number the cars, although they don’t. In the U.S., 500 million passenger vehicles roll the roads but only 85 million trucks. It’s inconvenient and sometimes scary to share the highway with enormous semis, but we all depend on them. Nowadays, they transport most of our needs.
If the internal combustion engine had been invented before the steam engine, we might never have had trains in this country. But steam engines were invented about 100 years before the gas engine and water and coal were handy. (When oil was discovered in the U.S., people wanted it for lamps.)
Railroads and steam propulsion developed separately, and it was not until the one system adopted the technology of the other that railroads began to flourish.
Building railroads was expensive so the federal government gave the railroads land. Some was sold to the public and some was offered to immigrants for their labor on the railroad. America didn’t have a real labor force; most men farmed and some ran small shops. As a result, we attracted a lot of immigrants to work on projects such as railroads.
The railroads spanned the country before we had any highways. They moved heavy loads cheaply. In my long lifetime I’ve been able to observe the steady expansion of highways and truck transportation and the steady decline of the rail system.
And now we’re stuck with a need for more oil to keep the trucks rolling, not to mention our cars.
This brief history lesson is brought to you at no extra charge because I know you need the money for gas.
A joke I forgot
This was intended for our Halloween issue but somehow escaped my memory:
Two men were walking home after a Halloween party and decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery just for laughs. Right in the middle of the cemetery both were startled by a tap-tap-tapping noise coming from the misty shadows.
Trembling with fear, they spotted an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.
“Mister,” said one of them after catching his breath, “you scared us half to death. We thought you were a ghost! What are you doing working here so late at night?”
“Those fools!” the old man grumbled. “They misspelled my name!”
A termite walks into the bar and asks the first guy he sees, “Is the bar tender here?”