All Over Movers' Moving Blog

A History of the Moving Industry

Posted on December 11th, 2014

The moving and storage industry is a $15 billion industry in the United States. About 42 million families each year use a moving company, or pay in some way for their relocation. And international relocations are growing as fast as domestic ones. Do-it-yourself storage during moves is a growing industry as well, now bringing in about $22 billion a year. But how did this all get started? Here’s some history on the moving industry.

In ancient times, moving was conducted on sled-like objects (called travois by the French), which were loaded with belongings and pulled by horse or by hand. At this time, humans moved often, and had few belongings to take with them. However, once the agricultural period began, humans began to move less often. They also became more stationary, and accumulated belongings, making it more difficult when they did choose to move. Shortly thereafter, the wheel, and then the axel, were invented. From there, humans invented the wooden cart, the wagon, and eventually the rail car.

The moving industry in the United States was created during the 1800s, around the development and expansion of the continental railroad, and during the great migration west. The first specialized cover wagons, called conestoga wagons, appeared around 1800. They would travel in groups of 5 or 6 families to get to their new homes. Once the railroad became more developed, Americans started travelling and moving via train. People would put their belongings onto wagons, and have them taken to warehouses that were located close to railroads. Moving companies would then load their belongings onto rail cars, and then put them into a warehouse at the intended destination. From there, the possessions would be put onto another wagon, and taken to the family’s new home. This was the first case of paid moving in the U.S. However, at this time these companies performed these services as side revenue. The mid-twentieth century would bring the advent of full-time moving companies.