FTF: Historical Confluence of Transportation

It’s French Toast Friday!

Whether it’s in business, life, history, or mid-life crisis, I’ve always been interested in that moment when everything comes together, but nothing has yet fully changed.  Events are all teeming and jostling each other for an interminably annoying spot in time.

I’ve found a number of photos recently of horses, bicycles, and automobiles all being used simultaneously as transportation.  On the same streets, at the same time.  My guess this time was the hardest for the horses.  Probably this change in how people were transported both worked for and against the quality of life for horses.  They were disposable AND a luxury.  As disposable, we know what happens.  As a luxury, they would get better care, and probably less grinding work loads.

In the photo below, Teddy Roosevelt is giving a speech in New Jersey.  Photo is the outside of the  building in which he’s speaking.  While advertising “Auto Storage”, the building is most likely a hotel as well.  Talk about a confluence of influences: car storage next to livery stable.

Hand carts, bicycles, Cars and buggies.  Photo: Library of Congress, Bain news service.

Teddy Roosevelt in New Jersey
Teddy Roosevelt in New Jersey around 1910-1915

photo by Berenice Abbott (LOC)
Pike Street, Manhattan Bridge, NY  photo by Berenice Abbott (LOC)

Let’s add steamboats…

Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket 1900 Taxi Stand
Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket 1900 Taxi Stand (LOC)

In 1940, horses were still a necessity for ranch work.  In this photo, steers are being herded to a roping in the Pietown, New Mexico (U.S.) Fair.  Photo by Russell Lee

Steers for Roping 1940

By the time I went to college in 1976  (working on a local cattle ranch to help with expenses), roundup, except for the once a year sorting, was done with dogs and off-road vehicles.  (The rancher’s sons hated horses)

Speaking of changing times, 1976 is when I was exposed to the hi-tech version of cattle rustling:  cattle were shot by high powered rifle from a rented light weight helicopter, dismembered with chain saws, meat was loaded up, and airlifted out.

The ranch was thousands of acres.  We found out via circling vultures about the loss.  Part of my job became to ride to the vultures, and see how many cattle were lost by how many heads were left on the ground, as generally, heads were not taken.  Gruesome.  Horse wasn’t thrilled either.  Vultures are surprisingly territorial, and not easily scared off.  Of course, the smell of blood attracted mountain lions.  If you’ve never seen a vulture go at a mountain lion,  it’s a surprising sight.  They don’t win, but it’s enough to scare the horse…and teach one to tie together a pair of tennis shoes by the laces, and grab them in one hand before going over the ridge.  It’s a looooooong walk back in heels when one is nursing  injured body parts.

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