How did the bobtail truck get its name?

Written in the 1850s by James Pierpont and originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh,” “Jingle Bells” is one of the most frequent and more popular tunes heard during the Christmas holiday season.  

The famous line that started it all

“Bells on bobtails ring” is a memorable and favorite line in Pierpont’s classic. In the song, bobtail refers to the tail of a horse that has been cut short to avoid getting tangled in the sleigh driver’s reins. The description can be used with other animals as well. A cat that’s had the majority of its tail cut off, for example, can also be referred to as “bobtailed.”

Ferrellgas' fleet of bobtail trucks

Those of us who work in the propane industry, and many of the millions of Americans who use propane every day, are also familiar with a different type of bobtail, which is also the name given to a tractor that is driving without a trailer attached. Ideal for deliveries to homes, farms, and businesses, bobtails delivering propane are equipped with storage tanks ranging from approximately 1,000 gallons of water capacity to nearly 7,000 gallons. The Ferrellgas fleet, one of the propane industry’s largest, boasts 1,500 bobtails.

To be clear, propane bobtails don’t have bells. Instead, they’re equipped with air horns that are, let’s be honest, significantly less pleasing. Still, know that these vehicles, which are hauling domestically produced, clean-burning propane gas, are even more capable of making every single spirit brighter than it ever was before.

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