Moving Throughout History — How Moving Has Changed Over The Years

Wagon Train Re-Enactment on the Cherokee Trail, Wyoming
Image CC 2.0 by Show Us Your Togwotee via Flickr

Every year, it seems, technology gets faster and faster. In some ways, the world has changed in the last 10 years as much as it changed during the 100 years prior. The moving industry, though, moves (excuse the pun) a bit slower. Still, many changes have taken seasoned movers by surprise.

Moving Is An American Innovation

You could trace the history of the moving industry back to the days of the covered wagon. It makes sense that moving as an industry is an American innovation. After all, we are a very large country. Back in our early days, though, people moved in their own covered wagons, and other wagons hauled goods right along with them.

The First Moving Companies

In the early 20th Century, the moving industry took a dramatic leap forward, with rail travel. Moving companies built warehouses close to rail yards. They used trucks, to haul things from people’s homes to the rail yard. The train would take the goods to the nearest destination rail yard, and trucks would deliver. Even today, you’ll find a lot of moving companies near rail yards.

Moving Today

The basics of the moving industry haven’t changed much since then. Instead of rail cars, we use truck to haul goods across country. That means we don’t have to locate near rail yards. The technology has changed, however.

It used to be that moving companies did everything by hand. Estimators used a piece of paper called a cube sheet that estimated the weight and volume of each item being moved. Dispatchers had a chalk board or white board with complex schedules. There was more room for error.

Today, as with every other industry, computers play a large part in the moving industry. We’re still decades away from robots doing all the packing and moving, but estimating is computerized (although using the exact same formula as when done by hand), as is scheduling. Today, in many cases, you can book a move without even picking up the phone.

The Future of Moving

As for the future, who knows? Perhaps telecommuting, like in Star Trek, will be a possibility for us and our precious belongings. We know technology will play a larger role. Even if we don’t have robotic movers, we’ll almost certainly have self-driving trucks. Look for more app-based moving companies. There are already several, although none are full-service. Of course, there’s always the possibility that possessions, at least as we know them now, will become a thing of the past.