Some of today’s modern truck stops are sprawling travel centers boasting movie theaters, amusement parks, golf courses and steakhouses. They are wonders of commercial innovation, but you don’t have to look too far back into the past to see that it wasn’t always so.
Truck stops trace their ancestry back to early 19th Century stagecoach relay stations. After all, weary travelers and people of commerce have always needed somewhere to rest while making their way down the long and windy road.
By the 1920s, stagecoaches were replaced by gas-fueled vehicles and a nascent trucking industry was evolving into the juggernaut it is today. By the mid- to late-1930s, the age of the automobile had truly arrived and things have never been the same since.
The 1940s saw small operation truck stops sprouting up across the national landscape. Interstate commerce was soaring as a result of World War II, and the need for truck stops was never greater.
The evolution of what we see today sprang from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s pen when he signed the Federal Interstate Highway Act into law. The resulting 41,000 miles of new interstate roads and highways opened up a nation. Over time, truck stops catered to the needs of comfort just as much as they catered to the needs of commerce.
As travelers hit the roads in droves, truck stops adapted. Gigantic multi-acre truck stops began to appear in every state in the nation. In the 1970s, the Travel Centers opened its first locations, and the rest is history.
Today almost anything can be found at some of these facilities across the country. Whether you’re looking for thousands of square feet of retail space, a variety of facilities or just somewhere safe to park and rest, a truck stop is always just a little ways up the road!