Transportation, Handling and Storage
Transportation, the moving of things and people from one place to another, is essential to living standards. Producers must deliver goods and services to consumers, and get them there without prohibitive transportation costs that would result in higher prices and fewer buyers. Likewise, suppliers need to be able to send materials, tools, machines, and labor to producers at affordable prices that include the costs of transportation. Where transportation is minimal, e.g., at the country's frontier or in isolated mountains and deserts, people live in a subsistence economy, i.e., one where most of the necessities of life are made by the user. There, families survive precariously. Bad weather can ruin a crop and no physician is available to administer to the sick and wounded. In a settlement of a few families within walking or riding distance, some expertise and division of labor, and some cooperation among those who have and those who want, make survival a little easier.
Before electrical communications were invented, information was transmitted via transportation; one walked, rode, rowed, or sailed to ask and tell. From antiquity until the introduction of canals in America, there were 5 ways to get things and people from one place to another: (1) walk along a path carrying a sack or in a field driving animals to pasture and market, if there was not too much rain and snow, (2) row or pole a boat with goods, people and news on a creek or small river, if there were no floods and ice, (3) sail a ship with goods, news and people on a bay, large river, or ocean, if there were no storms, wind, fog and ice, (4) ride a horse to deliver personal services, mail, or news, if not hindered by rain, sleet, or snow, or (5) drive a wagon or coach with goods, people or news pulled by horses, mules or oxen, if there was not too much by mud, snow, or ice. In all these modes of transportation, muscle, gravity, and wind are the power sources. The first alternative to these transportation modes began with the building of canals on which barges drawn by horses and mules. Then came the application of steam power to boats, ships, and locomotives. Later, the gasoline engine-driven road vehicles improved transportion further and, finally, the airplane and helicopter were invented.
Transportation is so essential to an economy that the history of the United States from the first settlements until the late 1890s, when roads, canals, and railroads covered the nation, dairies, petitions, charters, and laws in the federal, state, and local governments were filled with schemes to improve transportation. Transportation improvements resulted in large companies, e.g., Sears, Wal-Mart, Campbell, U.S. Steel, Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil, that in turn reduced units costs and prices, thus bringing many goods and services to most Americans to improve their living standards.
The 6 transportation modes are as follows:
(1) barges and canals,
Transportation of large amounts of materials ("bulk") led to improvements in bulk handling machinery & storage.