Raw wool could be brought to wool processors in many ways: shipped by train, by truck, or by boat, depending on where the raw wool was gathered and where it was being shipped for processing into yarn and eventually cloth. But as the photograph below indicates, the general idea was to ship as much as could possibly be stuffed into whatever method of transport you chose—in this case a truck—and then just add some more to the pile!
This gentleman, piloting a very early truck (probably about 1905), is possibly hoping that all those bags of wool don’t fall on his head before he reaches his destination. While we don’t know what each bag weighs, these bags are pretty large, and we can see at least 16 in the photograph, not counting what might be underneath in the bed of the truck. An estimate of 1500 or 1600 pounds total weight is probably not too unrealistic. It doesn’t seem like those thin little wheels on this truck could support all that weight (compare them to the large tires on tractor-trailers these days). In the early days of automobile design, the steering wheel sits perpendicular to the driver, rather than facing the driver as in modern-day cars, and note the complete lack of a cab, roof or any kind of cover, as well as the hand crank in the front.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the location of this photo, but what we see here is an enterprising gentleman who isn’t afraid to take on a load. Maybe he was just trying to conserve fuel by making only one trip. When “horseless carriages” first began operating, the “rules of the road” were minimum at best, and non-existent at worst, so he certainly wasn’t worried about weight limits. I’m just glad I wasn’t in a vehicle coming the other way!
Jane Ward, Assistant Librarian