The American Truck Historical Society has been very busy over the past few years embracing the age of the internet. You can now access past editions of their Wheels of Time publication online as well as view a portion of their vast White Motor Trucks archive. Continuing the march to the future the ATHS is now busy uploading various videos from their library that include recent truck show footage and archival gems like the film They Drive The Long Haul.
They Drive The Long Haul was produced back in 1952 by West Coast Fast Freight and provides fascinating insight into the life a line haul trucker from what many consider the golden age of the trucking industry. The flim covers five drivers as they travel over 1200 miles from Lost Angles, California to Spokane, Washington. A smaller portion of the film also deals with a run by a System Tank Lines truck as it hauls fuel across the deserts of the Southwest.
I was blown away by the quality of this video. It seriously is the closest many of us will ever get to trucking in the 50’s. The film is clear and the sound really comes through. Many times the background music and the narrator fall silent so the sound of diesel engines can take the staring roll. Whoever produced this video really had a passion for trucks and it shows.
Current drivers will be amazed by the variety of gizmos used to conduct driver physicals. It seems like there was an O-Matic for every from the testing of depth perception to the recording of reaction time. Also of note were the Tacograph used to measure engine RPMS and the Speedogram used to record speed, distance and stop duration all to CD sized wax discs. They were the grandfather of today’s paperless log systems.
I could go on like this but the film will do a better job. It’s full of fun facts that are so outdated now they are charming, like tires that cost 150 a piece or 200HP diesel engines being the most powerful on the road. Get some popcorn and dim the lights, it’s time to go trucking.