FreightWaves Flashback 1955: Shipside to Chicago in three nights

The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday, FreightWaves explores the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.

The following is an excerpt from the July 1955 edition of The Jacksonville Seafarer.

Shipside to Chicago in three nights

New and stronger ties between the Port of Jacksonville and the fertile midwestern territory are being developed by truck lines bent on developing return traffic for their trailer units, which supply Florida with consumer merchandise.

The present imbalance of traffic due largely to Florida’s retired and tourist citizens is being corrected by placing greater emphasis on import traffic.

Such action not only benefits the common carrier truck operators by supplying round-trip loads but aids shippers and receivers who are seeking faster, cheaper methods of getting their goods from shipside.

Great Southern Trucking Company, a pioneer in developing import and export traffic from the Midwest to Jacksonville, is now handling shipments of import commodities to points as far away as Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Exports also

Great Southern’s General Traffic Manager, J.R. Horne has uncovered export traffic from manufacturers in the Midwest and intermediate states who have been seeking relief from port charges along the North Atlantic.

“We are particularly anxious to develop freight movements out of Florida and are using import traffic as a target,” Horne says. “Our policy is to go after any and all traffic which can be handled with a three-line combination of common carrier truck lines.”

Third morning to Chicago

Horne and William C. Biggs, interline traffic manager, within the past year have succeeded in building a network of through-rate service to each of the 48 states.

Great Southern itself goes directly into Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Charlotte, Greensboro and Durham from Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa.

Connections are made at its big interior terminals with cooperating lines to more distant points.

Schedules from Jacksonville to representative interior cities are:

Atlanta – Overnight

Chattanooga – Following day on truckload traffic; 2nd morning on less-than-truckload traffic

Albany – Overnight

Greensboro – Next day

Charlotte – Next noon

Cincinnati – 3rd morning

Chicago – 3rd morning

St. Louis – 3rd morning

Great Southern, the largest common carrier truck line operating within the Southeast, grossed over $16 million in 1954. It provides open, closed and refrigerated equipment along its routes. While it does not provide heavy lift and hauling equipment, its trailers take single lifts up to 10,000 pounds.

Import traffic

The truck line, a division of Ryder System, cut its teeth in the import picture handling shipments from the local docks to plants along its route.

Later, Great Southern began handling green coffee shipments to Birmingham, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chattanooga and similar points with roasting plants.

With the opening of the Maxwell House Instant Coffee plant last year, the truck line broke into a more extended operation. It now carries instant coffee, imported and processed at Jacksonville, to numerous Southeastern and Midwestern cities.

When traffic justifies, motor carrier import and export commodity rates are established to the advantage of shippers.

Other port traffic

Coffee is just one of the commodities that Great Southern transports to and from the port. Among others are petroleum, packaged goods, sugar, burlap, bagging, canned goods brought in via intercoastal service from California, and many others.

Ryder System

Great Southern was recently made a division of Ryder System headed by youthful J.A. Ryder, who purchased the truck line in 1952 and has since spent millions of dollars in modernizing and extending its operations.

Great Southern operates 1,262 units of equipment. The Ryder Truck Rental Division has 1,702 units and is the largest truck rental organization in the Southeast. Another division, Yellow Rentals, based in Philadelphia, has 905 units of equipment. There are 2,192 employees in the System.

Since 1952 Ryder has spent more than $2.5 million to make the company’s chain of terminals and call stations as modern as any in the United States.

This spring, he opened a $500,000 terminal at 2060 King Road, Jacksonville. 

The terminal is designed to handle 10 million pounds of freight weekly in the 408-foot long warehouse. Installed in the warehouse is a continuous under-floor conveyor, the first installed by a local motor carrier.