June 25, 2019

How Major Travel Routes Helped Shape Commerce and Beyond

Written by Garret Weigel | Supply Chain

Transportation routes and paths of travel develop over time. Such routes represent our affinity towards building paths that connect societies to one another, both domestically and globally. They also highlight the importance of established routes to transport and deliver goods and commodities.

 

Once established, travel routes, particularly those used for trade, become vital to linking one state or country to another and often one culture to others. Below is an outline of some well-known routes, how they developed, and their purposes.

 

The Pan American Highway

The Pan American Highway is a network of roads that crosses several American continents and stretches for about 19,000 miles. It extends from Alaska in North America to the lower reaches of South America. It's known as the world's longest "motorable road." The highway is continuously traversable except for one portion between South and Central America, where transit is only possible with an all-terrain vehicle.

 

The highway cuts across many diverse climates, ranging from very dense jungles to deserts, barren tundra, and other regions that are only passable during certain seasons of the year.

 

The Silk Road

The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes that was a cultural and commercial connection between different regions for many centuries. The Silk Road is not actually a discreet and specific “road.” Rather, it is a bundling of trade routes that connect East and Southeast Asia with East Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe.

 

How did the Silk Road get its name? It comes from the lucrative silk that was transported along its path many, many years ago, beginning with the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. The Chinese took great interest in safely trading products. As such, they sought to extend the Great Wall of China to ensure that those trade routes were protected. In fact, Marco Polo is said to have traveled to China along this historic route.

 

silk road

The Silk Road was an ancient network for cultural and commercial trade routes. Source: http://nepalforeignaffairs.com/relevance-of-chinas-silk-road-revival-initiative-and-nepal/

 

Like many great transportation pathways, the routes tend to shape the development of the countries that they touch. For the Silk Road, this includes China, Korea, Japan, the subcontinent of India, Iran, Persia, Europe, and the Horn of Africa in Arabia. The pathways traveled on the Silk Road connected many political, social, and cultural environments. Though the Silk Road began as a route to move the popular material from China, the trade expanded into other goods. Unfortunately, the Silk Road was also a way for disease to spread, as it helped the plague travel from one region of the world to the next, centuries ago. The Silk Road represents the valuable role that a trade route plays in the history of developing nations.

 

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The I-95 Corridor

The I-95 Corridor, or Interstate 95 (I-95), is the main interstate highway along the East Coast that runs largely parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. From Florida to Maine, it serves most of the cities on the eastern seaboard as well as other major metropolitan areas, such as Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York City, and then up to New Haven, Providence, Boston, and Portland in New England. While the interstate forms a direct route between Washington, D.C., and Savannah, Georgia, it connects to major coastal ports such as Charleston and Norfolk, Virginia, through other interstate connections.

 

I-95 is the oldest route of the interstate highway system and ends in New Brunswick, Canada. The entire corridor runs about 1,900 miles long and is the longest north-to-south interstate, the sixth longest interstate highway overall, and passes through more states than any other interstate highway (15 of them). Because the route is continuous and has been developed and established for many years, it's home to many distribution centers and warehouses.

 

Having a supply chain infrastructure built along I-95 aids in the intermodal connection between the corridor and other nearby ports in Charleston, Savannah, and Florida. It significantly helps truckers to transfer containers from marine siding to their trailers. Loaded trucks may then embark on the I-95 Corridor and move to other parts along the East Coast. Or they may use the corridor as a travel route to other highways to move cargo further inland.

 

In addition, the I-95 Corridor has become the site of inland ports. Inland ports have a similar layout as a marine terminal, but they're located very close to a major highway. This allows containers to be moved via rail and facilitates truckers who can pick up cargo and be on their way more quickly and efficiently.

 

The Hippie Trail

The Hippie Trail is the name given to an actual journey taken by members of the hippie subculture that was part of the social scene from the early 1960s through the late 1970s. It ran between Europe and South Asia and passed through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. It was a form of tourism as some describe it and was known for travelers who were journeying “as cheaply as possible." It was formed by individuals who sought to travel from one point to another, and along the way, build relationships and socialize.

 

Throughout the Hippie Trail, there were many stopovers such as hotels, restaurants, and gathering sites for those who networked with each other as they traveled east and west. It ended in the late 1970s after the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which closed the route to Western travelers.

 

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