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Diamond T: 1920

Diamond T: 1920

San Francisco, 1920. "Diamond T truck -- DeLand & Son Draymen." Draymen and drayage being haulage-related terms that eventually became as extinct as the Diamond T. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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Without fixed sides

Another aspect in the definition of dray is a cart without fixed sides, as illustrated in our current photo.

The lap of luxury

Roof, tilting "wiggly" glass windshield, padded seat & backrest, leaf springs with maybe a half inch of travel. The life of the drayman.

Dray definition

According to the Oxford English Dictionary a dray was originally a sled and later the term became applied to the low heavy wagons with wheels particularly used by brewers.

I knew a Drayman once

As a youth in England growing up in the East, my father ran an old sea coast hotel in King's Lynn (Norfolk) for one of the breweries.

When the men delivered the beer barrels and such, my dad referred to them as Draymen. That was back in the early 70's.

Drayage Historical Turning Point

Drayage got a lot easier when they started using wheels. That didn't affect the term, however.

[A dray is a cart or wagon, so presumably they've always had wheels. - Dave]

UK Extinction

British English near equivalents for extinction are 'carrier', 'carter' & 'haulier'.

More Inventions Needed

Someone needs to invent a forklift. Those crates look very heavy even if they were empty. This truck has solid rubber tires. The cargo and driver have to endure a bone shattering ride.

Last Mile

Granted, the term may be extinct, but draymen and drayage are here to stay. Drayage hauling is one of the most critical components of the global economy's intermodal transportation system. Goods crisscross the globe by rail and ocean freight faster and cheaper per ton than ever before, but still must get from the rail yard or port to customers. This "last mile" of delivery is still done by truck, though Diamond Ts are hard to find.

All of those brown trucks and red-white-blue trucks delivering Amazon, Zappos, and packages are draymen. The packages arrive by air and make their "last mile" in an panel truck operated by an independent contractor, though the transportation unions would prefer employment. Check out

My great-great grandfather ran a drayage company by covered wagon from the rail yards to rural customers in Comanche County, TX. He died of pneumonia in his wagon on the banks of the Brazos River in the rain waiting for the flooding river to subside so he could ford it.


Drayage as a term is not extinct yet! Here in SC, we have Smith Dray Line . Moving and storing since 1888! Not that anyone would ever suggest SC is mired in the past or anything....


Draymen maybe extinct, but the term teamster is alive even though teams of horses were on there way out in 1920. In horse drawn parlance a dray had the rear wheels no higher than the deck of the body; a wagon with rear wheels that extended above the deck was called a truck.(simplified explanation)

Not quite dead yet

"Drayage" survives! At least in exhibition halls and trade show venues, where the cost of having forty packing crates conveyed from a loading dock to a trade show booth site might just eclipse the value of the display materials themselves. In modern times, the term "drayage" connotes a mashup of operational logistics, fork lifts, and an occupational fervor reminiscent of medieval guilds. It's nice to remember the word, but you'd really better remember to allocate a big pile of cash for drayage.


Dray and Draymen are still in common usage in England to describe specifically beer deliveries to pubs and bars.

But I've never heard of 'drayage' before.

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