The Blue Tarp is History
9 August 2018
The “Blue Tarp” Tarpaulin Age began when some bright spark realized that fabric + oil/wax = temporary waterproofing.
The word tarpaulin was first used by 17th century sailors to refer to a tar-coated palling (a canvas cloth) that covered cargo at sea. In the 20th century, polyurethane replaced tar, then canvas was superseded by woven plastic.
Over time, we found many uses for tarps, including: clothing, signage, livestock shelters, greenhouses, fume and dust containment, pool lining, sports-field protection, and camping for recreation or refuge. Our belief in the powers of tarpaulin grew until we lost touch with reality: during the Cold War, soldiers were issued with a small tarp that was supposed to protect them from radioactive fallout.