Denny Norton

Denny is the owner of Performance Unlimited.

4th of July offers reminder of what freedom of movement means for McHenry drivers

When America was founded, the people of this country had the freedom to go wherever they liked. They could cross borders between states without papers or permission. The biggest restraint they faced was the time it took to travel. This is not something we can easily relate to in the age of the automobile.

They could travel by boat but then they were restrained to the Eastern coastline or by the course of the river they sailed. Otherwise, they had two choices – horse or by foot.

On average, a healthy person can walk about 3 mph. If they did that for 24 hours, they would travel 72 miles. But, even if they stayed awake and walked that entire time, inevitably, they would probably want to take a rest at some point. Really pushing themselves, they might walk 20 or 25 miles in a day.

Look at it this way; if someone from McHenry walked 25 miles one day, they could go to one of several other cities in the county and back. But it would take all day. A trip from McHenry to Chicago would take about two-and-a-half days at that rate and they would need another two-and-a-half days to get home again.

Freedom of movement has meant more in the
USA thanks to the innovation that has taken
us from the horse and buggy to the automobile.

Horses, of course, increased the distance that a person could travel. The average horse walks about 4.3 miles per hour. At that rate, if you rode for 10 hours, you could go 43 miles. You would still fall short of Chicago unless you picked up the pace or increased your time riding.

If you’ve ever rode a horse, you know that the words ‘saddle sore’ have real meaning. Your feet and legs will get tired and sore walking all day. Your backside will get sore riding all day.

Of course, you could ride in a buggy or cart pulled by a horse but even that is rough on the passengers. Think about it; when you’ve taken long drives in the car, how do you feel when you stop after several hours. If you’re like most people, you’re a bit stiff from sitting in the car.

The difference is that, with a car, you can leave McHenry in the morning and see the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, by late afternoon or early evening. You can leave McHenry and catch a Cubs away game against the Pirates in Pittsburg in the evening.

If you want to go to Chicago, a trip to the Loop will take about an hour and a half. Other big cities are also easily within reach, too.

Liberty isn’t just the right to move about but that is one of the rights we celebrate on the 4th of July. And the automobile has expanded what that means in a big way.

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