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Shipping up to Boston: Trains, Trucks, & Woody Guthrie

shipping up to boston
How Shipping Made America
There’s a song called “Shipping up to Boston,” by legendary Boston punks, The Dropkick Murphys. You probably remember it from The Departed. And while you might or might not be familiar with “Shipping up to Boston,” or the thrashing oh, oh, oh’s of the bridge, what you probably don’t know is that the song was originally written by Woody Guthrie, the vagabond Dylan of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and beyond. While the lyrics are hilariously short and simple, it got me thinking about Guthrie, about riding trains, truck drivers, the open road, and ultimately how the history of shipping (be it ship, rail, air, or truck) shaped the country and culture that we live in today. Being a freight broker, it’s easy to get caught up in the drowsy details of shipping: the freight class dilemmas, the invoice issues, and the residential deliveries. There’s a lot of moving pieces. But on a deeper level, there’s a transient principal to America that’s existed since its founding. The wide open spaces. Manifest Destiny and the gold rush. Lewis and Clarke. There was mystery in the West, in the unknown, and that “Hell, I can do that” philosophy slid into the Civil War, the industrial revolution, and eventually the development of interstates and highways. It’s often said that America has a car culture, and while a lot of that is wrapped up in Detroit and Henry Ford (or the Dodge brothers…whatever), a lot of it concerns the freedom and expression of the open road, and the concept of transport – that one place can and will be distinctly different than another. This sensibility has always seemed divergent from the European philosophies our founding fathers escaped when they crossed the Atlantic. The Best Definition of Millennials That these different philosophies manifested themselves in our new country’s geography is both coincidental, and later, planned. We have a large country! With lots of natural resources and materials! It was always imperative to us, and our way of life, to cover those lands, to exploit, to dig out the earth and burn it. There are moral discussions attached to this sort of thing, always have been, but it’s not an American thing so much as it’s a human thing. Since the first of us popped up tens of thousands of years ago, the formula has been: Humans + Earth = Life. This doesn’t mean life can’t be cultivated without us humans, of course not, only that for our life to exist we have to use the earth. What does all this have to do with LTL shipping? Nothing, at first glance. But the moving of freight is the moving of resources, of goods, of product, and industry. These are the building blocks of America, and railroads and highways criss-cross the land like a drunk spider spinning a web. From the docks of New York to the Sierra Nevadas of California, railroads and interstates connect us all. Our freight. Our lives. Our culture. The Future of SEO is Original Content So while its convenient to think of LTL and truckload shipping as “boring,” or enigmatic, it’s actually a huge part of our culture, lifestyle, and what it means to be singularly American. Politics. The Law. Religion. Capitalism. These are pillars of America. But Transportation and Shipping deserve a spot right alongside these, “Oh so very American” of things. As a freight broker, it’s nice to know everyone plays a part, and that we’re doing something for more than just a paycheck. We’re a part of the fabric.

Logan Theissen

Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.

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