Re: Armour Produce operations Who Owned What

Bill Welch

Just wanted to straighten out the record about all the early names of Reefer companies and who owned what. My source is on page 299 of March 1905 issue of "Everybody's Magazine" in the first part of a multi story expose entitled "The Greatest Trust in World" by Charles Edward Russell.

Armour Group had the following names under it: The Armour Refrigerator Line; The Armour Packing Company; Armour & Company; Fruit Growers Express, Kansas City Fruit Express; Continental Fruit Express; Boyd Lyman & Co,; Kansas City Dressed Beef Line; Barbarossa Refrigerator Line; and Tropical Refrigerator Line.

Swift Group included: Swift Refrigerator Line; California Fruit Transportation; Continental Fruit Transportation; and Libby, McNeil & Libby.

Morris Group included these company names: Morris Refrigerator Line; Nelson Morris & Co.; and N.K. Fairbanks.

Hammond Group included: George H. Hammond & Co.; National Car Line; and Anglo-American Refrigerator Line.

I think Tony was confusing the two companies that began "Continental Fruit..." Charles Edward Russell was one of the most prominent investigative reporters of his day that were known as Muckrakers. The series of articles were eventually published as a book with the same title as the articles. Both the articles and the book have been digitized by Google. Use his name, the title of his work, or the magazine's name with the March 1905 date to search. I like the magazine version because there are a few photos plus the other articles are a glimpse into what people were writing about. Undoubtedly to defend himself Ogden Armour wrote and published his book The Packers, the Private Car Lines, and the People" in 1906.

--- In STMFC@..., Anthony Thompson <thompson@...> wrote:

Bill Welch wrote:
Armour was involved in the Produce transport business by 1890, beginning to transport produce from California, but soon the SP, UP and AT&SF developed their own operations and Armour developed other markets with several different company names emblazoned on their cars; Continental Fruit Express, Kansas City Fruit Express and Tropical Refrigerator Express are three I have identified along with FGE.
Well, not exactly. It's true that the second two listed by Bill were certainly absorbed by Armour, along with Earl Fruit Company, the Goodell Line, California Fruit Express, and Fruit Dealers Despatch. All had previously been independent. But Continental Fruit Express was absorbed by Swift.

By May 1898 the Central of Georgia signed an exclusive contract with FGE to transport their perishable loading soon to be followed by the Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Air Line, Southern and Florida East Coast Railroad, meaning that the harvests of fruits and vegetables from southeastern Atlantic Coast states were carried in cars of the Armour Lines with little if any exception for the next 22 years.
It's worth noting that the abuses, both of icing charges and freight charges, by the Armour system were an important stimulus to the Hepburn Act of 1906, which made railroads responsible for providing refrigerator cars to shippers (leased, if need be) and for the reasonableness of icing charges. After 1906, a number of railroads ceased to use Armour, as the previously favorable Armour contracts were no longer profitable under the Hepburn Act rules. And E.H. Harriman cancelled his Armour contracts and founded Pacific Fruit Express just as the Hepburn Act went into effect, to provide refrigerator car services to SP and UP. I very much doubt the timing was a coincidence. It's thus interesting that the southeastern roads stuck with Armour. Hopefully Bill's book will provide insight into that.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
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