Why the interest in garbage trucks?
Where I grew up they had both side loading and rear loading garbage trucks.  My favorite was the rear loader.  I was always fascinated by how it worked, and and how it gobbled up virtually anything that was placed in its hopper.  I would always follow the garbage truck when I had the chance, for example on my way to school.  Our garbage collection day was normally Friday, but a holiday during the week would push it to Saturday.  Those days were a lot of fun!

You can be sure the sound of a garbage truck sent me racing out the front door, much like the jingle of the ice cream man gets most "normal" kids excited.

Even to this day, I will watch a garbage truck.  I have been known to wait around interesting piles of garbage until the truck comes by and does its thing.

Okay now I can see where this is going!
Eventually curiosity led me to wonder when exactly the garbage truck as we know it was invented?  Were the garbage trucks the same when my parents were growing up?  I started my research by talking to older people and then visiting car shows where I would try to find literature on old garbage trucks.  I was quite suprised by some of the findings I made, which are summarized on this website.  I have omitted on purpose much of the specific technical data ("the numbers") - if there is sufficient interest I will consider posting it.

In my opinion there is no good website on the history of garbage trucks.  The web searches I have done have yielded diappointing results.  It seems all there is, may be some history on a particular city's garbage collection route, or landfill, but not much at all on the trucks that do the job!  Certain manufacturers of trucks such as Heil and Leach do have websites, but their history sections will generally only mention one or two models in passing - without the detail I'm interested in.

Okay if it couldn't be found on-line, what are your sources?

The best concrete sources of information have been old sales literature and advertising.  Not only do these have beautiful pictures, they are also chock full of all the technical specifications on each model.  The advertising and literature is also dated, which tells me when a particular model was introduced.

Unfortunately finding literature on garbage trucks is not easy.  You won't likely find it at your local library.  I have found large car shows (such as Hershey and Carlisle for example)  to be the best source.  Usually you will find several large vendors of literature.  Naturally they cater to the automotive enthusiast and do not expect an inquiry on garbage trucks (I've had more than one funny look!)  If they have it, you will be lucky if it is organized under truck - often it means a lot of pawing through their inventory.

Terms of use?
Some may feel I may be crossing certain copyright infringements by scanning photos from sales literature and posting it on my website.  I do not feel this is the case, as sales literature is usually meant to be duplicated (after all, it is free advertising for the vendor).  Furthermore, most (if not all) of these trucks are no longer in production - I think it is highly unlikely anyone will care that I have reproduced the photos for this website.  In cases where the source is not clear, I have quoted the journal from where it came.

I am not selling or expecting any kind of compensation for any of the contents on this website.  I am only too happy to provide information that may otherwise be difficult to find.  However if you wish to copy any of this material, you should send me an e-mail requesting permission, and state for what purpose.  For most purposes my permission will be granted.

Is there anything I can do to help your project?

YES!  Obviously I am always on the lookout for any photos or literature I can get my hands on.  I would be grateful for any that you can offer.  I can accept material via snail-mail, and if you wish it to be returned, a SASE can be enclosed.  Please contact me first by e-mail.

I can accept images in a variety of formats (gifs or jpegs are best) as e-mail attachments.  While I cannot guarantee when or if I will be able to use what I am provided, I can guarantee I will follow up with a prompt acknowledge and thank you with the trust that if I do end up using any of the material with your permission, I will give you full credit.

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Page created Jan 5, 2003