Asphalt Cowboys

Traditionally horses were used as the main source of power, hence the term horsepower. They were used to pull plows, transport materials/people, and as a method of delivery. Modernly horses are often used for leisure, such as horseback riding, racing, and for show. The wonderful wild west is a region that provides an excellent example of the needs that horses fulfilled. 

When one starts considering the west and horses in history they often imagine depictions of Cowboys & Indians riding off, kicking up dust and stone, to battle. When we watch western styled or themed movies we see horses hauling wagons full of people to church or to the train station. We see scenes where the horse is used to get people into town to get their telegrams or pick up a letter that took weeks if not longer to reach them. The mail system was dependent on horses to deliver letters, the railroad system depended on horses for their power to pull/move and transport parts to build it. Now that we have moved on from the restrictions of that time period and the world has become industrialized our horses morphed into eighteen-wheelers. 

*(For more information on the west check out my reference: https://nationalcowboymuseum.org/explore-category/the-cowboy/)

*(For more information on truck driving check out my other reference: https://www.gwtrans.com/the-history-of-semi-trailer-trucks/)

The Modernized Morphing- Western Cowboy to Asphalt Cowboy

Truck drivers drive trucks, obviously – but what may not be so obvious is what they are, how they work, and what they are called. Tractor-trailer trucks or rigs were once known as large-cars, but are not more commonly known as 18-wheelers, big-trucks, semi-trucks, or semi’s. Trucker slang also allows for a wide variety of terminology to describe types of trucks on the roadways. 

For example there are brands such as Peterbilt, Kennworth, International, Frieghtliner, Volvo, and Mac. The brands have slang terms for them, such as K-dub for Kennworth, Frieght-shaker for Frieghtliner, Twin-Screw Subaru for Volvo, and Peter or *insert truck color* -peter (Orange Peter or Black Peter).

Underneath that umbrella falls the category of names that signify what the truck can do or haul. Flatbed trucks (aka skateboards) can haul oversized loads, things that will not fit in box trailers, and I have even noticed that truckers will strap a tiny toy truck to the bed of their truck if they are unloaded. For some this is humor, but for others it signifies that this trucker has a child at home. 

Car hauler – semi trucks that haul cars (aka parking lots). These are the trucks that you see pulling into dealerships with a load of new inventory for the season. There are often multiple cars/suv’s/trucks loaded on the trailer. 

Tankers (aka as cans)- they typically carry liquids, hazmats, gases, or food substaces like milk. 

Trucks that haul livestock are known as pig pens or cattle vans. 

The United States relies on Asphalt Cowboys and their 18-wheelers (horses) to deliver wanted/needed commodities and goods, such as food, clothing, building supplies, machines, and equipment. The development of roadways, pavement, and highway system has significantly contributed to the ability to meet supply and demand on a large-scale, thus the death of the horseback or horse-drawn delivery system and the birth of the Asphalt Cowboy. Today’s trucker is responsible for transporting over 70% of our goods in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median income for a truck driver in the US is $41,340, as of May 2016, and the projected job growth remains at 6%. 

For more info look up this reference: (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm)

Another New Frontier Means Another Breed of Cowboy Created: Computerized Cowboys

On  my journey from truck stop to truck stop and listening to drivers banter back and forth over the radio waves, I learned that our Asphalt Cowboys have a real concern and fear with the next generation of cowboys – Computerized Cowboys. These new cowboys will be more economical for the large corporations; it will save them money but it will be the death of our current truck drivers.   

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