FreightWaves Flashback 1957: Great Southern on Piggy-Back


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 August 1957 edition of the Jacksonville Seafarer.

The piggy-back era in Florida transportation was inaugurated June 12 when eight Great Southern Trucking Company trailers started on a regularly scheduled run between Jacksonville and Miami on flat cars of the Florida East Coast Railway.

That evening, eight more trailers began the northbound trip from Miami to Jacksonville.

The F.E.C.-Great Southern piggy-back service is the first tried in the South. A minimum of eight trailers a day will be shipped during a year’s trial of the operation.

“This new departure in transportation will be the forerunner of lots of business or all the railroads,” former Governor John W. Martin, Trustee of the F.E.C., said. “I am glad that the Florida East Coast and the Great Southern have inaugurated this service, and I am glad to see the truckers and the railroads get together. They should stop fighting one another.”

A.E. Green, Jr., Vice President and General Manager of Great Southern, which serves six southeastern states as a part of the nationwide Ryder System, Inc., said the piggy-back service had advantages to truckers, railroads, and the public.

“Through coordinated transportation, we will have better service and in years to come it will be cheaper service for the public,” Green said.

Green said it is expected that greater weight can be put on the trucks by putting them on the flat cars. He pointed out also that the rail service eliminates highway hazards.

Green said that the company has no immediate plans for extending the piggyback service to other railroads in the Southeast, but that Rail-Trailer Company, which represents a large group of motor carriers, has been conducting negotiations with various railroads in connection with the possible extension of piggyback service.

Loading Ramps

The Great Southern trailers were loaded to the flat cars at a specially constructed loading platform at the Bowden marshaling yards, just south of Jacksonville. Trailer units can be delivered over the local streets and highways to the Bowden yard loading area during the night and early morning hours and loaded to flat cars prior to departure of the ten o’clock F.E.C. freight to Miami.

The trailers are backed by skilled drivers aboard the flat cars and shackled to the deck with special jacks relieving the dolly wheels of the load during the train ride.

It is contemplated that in the future the F.E.C. will have flat cars able to receive two 35 foot trailer units or three 24 foot units on a single flat car specially equipped for piggy-back service. Similar units are already in service in other parts of the country.

Great Southern is a part of the Ryder System, Inc., which is also the parent company of Borinquen Steamship Company operating regularly scheduled service between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Borinquen will further the development of containerized cargo shipments between the United States and Puerto Rico.

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