Some call them lumber carriers. The toy above by Ideal is labeled a "Lumber Loader." They've also been
called material handlers. But, they are more properly known in the industry as straddle carriers.
A booklet by D. Earl Starner entitled A Pictorial History of The Straddle Carrier points out that the
straddle carrier was a product of American ingenuity and invented by Harry B. Ross in 1913. The first
example was built in Seattle, Washington by the Stetson-Ross Machine Works. It was electric powered
and had only front wheel steering, but was capable of lifting 12,000 pounds.
In 1920 the Dallas Machine and Locomotive Works built their first straddle carrier. Power was transmitted
to the two drive wheels via a system of drive-shafts. It had hard rubber tires, two wheel steering, and
was powered by a 4-cylinder Cadillac engine. The designer was Carl Gerlinger who bought the plant in
1925 - from then on their straddle carriers went by the name "Gerlingers."
The first Hyster straddle carrier was built by the Willamette Iron and Steel Company in 1924 and called
the "Bulldog." Later it was simply called the Hyster - a name which was concocted from the phrase
All three brands of straddle trucks flourished for many years. However, only two manufacturers
attempted toy versions of these important machines. Both seem to have emerged in the late 1940's.
The well-known Hyster carriers by Druge Bros. of Oakland, CA and the Cari-Cars by the Swan-Hill
Manufacturing Co. of Pleasanton, CA appeared about 1947 or '48. Druge Hyster straddle carriers may
have been the first on the market since the Swan-Hill ads noted that their toy carriers were "less costly."
Besides those by Druge and Swan-Hill, the only other straddle carrier toy I have ever seen was the small
plastic model by Ideal that came with four pieces of 1/2" x 3/4" x 5" lumber and is shown at the top of this
Nevertheless, those toys that do exist, and that have survived over the years, give us excellent insight into
what it takes to produce a miniature version of some rather large and complicated industrial machines.
Toy straddle carriers are unique and it won't take very many of them to make up a complete collection!