From Ancient Egypt to Now: Shipping Through the Ages

Today, we expect our packages to arrive at the requested time – especially if we’re paying for same day or next day service. We expect to receive text messages alerting us to delivery delays or packages sitting outside our doors. Thanks to the latest technological innovations, we may take for granted how fortunate we are as shippers. Looking back at how shipping became an essential service could give some perspectiveand appreciation for what the shippers of yesteryear went through just to send a package.

First Known Courier Service – 2400 BC

The first documented, organized courier service dates to 2400 BC, when Egyptian slaves run stone tablets between cities in the Pharaoh's kingdom. (The first recorded damage to a package during shipment is also way back then!) Ancient couriers travel long distances in brutal heat, which is no small feat.

Benjamin Franklin Organizes the USPO

In 1775, the Continental Congress establishes the United States Post Office (USPO). Benjamin Franklin becomes one of two joint postmasters. Under his direction, routes are improved between large cities like Philadelphia and New York. Our man Ben standardizes rates, basing them on distance and weight. By the time he moves on from postmaster, postal routes are established from Florida to Maine.

Gold Rush of Bi-Coastal Shipments

In the 1860s, California’s gold rush creates an immediate need for quick deliveries of documents and supplies westward. The Pony Express takes off, making it the first overland coast to coast delivery service. Meanwhile, industrial innovations make this a period of constant change, and the Trans-Continental Railroad eventually ends the Pony Express. After WWI, delivery trucks do the same to the iron horse.

No Ma’am, You Cannot Ship Your Child

In 1896, with 54% of the American population living in rural areas, the USPO begins free mail service. The USPO also extends reduced parcel post rates for packages under 50 lbs. Customers start to get creative. Charlotte May Pierstorff -a small child- is mailed by her mother from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho for the sum of 53 cents. Shortly after, a law is passed prohibiting the shipment of human beings through the mail.

The Brown Trucks of Shipping

In 1907, James Casey, a 19-year-old Seattle teenager, creates the American Messenger Company to deliver parcels locally by bike and truck. By 1919, thanks to a boom in cars and trucks, it merges with another small company to form United Parcel Service (UPS). Casey initiates daily pickups as well as streamlined documentation, and introduces the first conveyor belt system to handle the sorting of packages.

First Passengers Then Packages

Over a century ago, Carl Eric Wickman realizes many poor Americans, with no car or way to afford the train, need transportation. So he crams 15 miners into an eight-person touring sedan and drives the two miles from Hibbing, Minnesota to the saloon town of Alice. He charges each of them 15 cents. From this humble beginning, the Greyhound Line is born. Wickman acquires numerous small bus lines, building his company into the only national operator of scheduled intercity coach service. When the time is right, the company innovates, establishing a shipping division called Greyhound Express to transport both passengers and packages to 3,800 destinations in North America.

USPO Transforms

With no central authority in charge of U.S. mail in 1970, President Richard Nixon decides to abolish what’s left of the USPO. He creates the United States Postal Service (USPS) and designates it as the official mail carrier in the U.S., which ends up inspirng UPS and other mail carriers to focus on handling packages only.

Shipping News

Forty-five years ago, while the USPS and UPS rely on the airline companies to transport packages, a guy named Fred Smith streamlines air deliveries by establishing a central distribution hub and owning the planes. His company? FedEx. Mr. Smith is not the only one with American ingenuity. Today, companies like Amazon are experimenting with aerial-drone home-deliveries. And in the future, will companies like Virgin Galactic offer planet to planet parcel delivery? No one knows. What we can count on is people will always need to have things transported long distances. Until someone figures out how to send a box over the internet, we should probably keep that roll of packing tape. – Passing the Savings on to You

Are you trying to ship boxes across the country? utilizes unused cargo space on Greyhound buses so we can offer substantially discounted prices. The more you ship the more you save! We except boxes with a maximum size of 29”x47”x82” and weighing up to 100 lbs. Consider the advantage and discover a better way to send your packages across the country. Visit, fill in the Instant Quote & Ordering form, get your quote and order.