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Early Fruit Transportation

Bob Chaparro
 

Early Fruit Transportation

From the 1908 book, Private Freight Cars And American Railways by

Louis Dwight Harvell:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t60584r0q&view=1up&seq=9

Most of what is discussed below predates Pacific Fruit Express (formed in 1906) and the Santa Fe Fruit & Refrigerator Line (formed in 1892.)

Bob Chaparro

Moderator

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The first refrigerator line of any importance operated solely for the fruit traffic was that of F. A. Thomas, a fruit and produce dealer of South Water Street, Chicago. His line was started in the following way. A Detroit inventor named Carlton B. Hutchins perfected a refrigerator car in 1886, had fifty of them built, organized the Detroit Refrigerator Car Company, and operated them over the

Michigan Central in the fruit and produce trade.

Owing to a personal disagreement with the president of the road, Mr. Hutchins was obliged to cease operating his cars over the Michigan Central, and went to Chicago in search of some one who would use them. There he found Mr. Thomas and his son, who took them, and operated them in traffic to the East.

In a few months Mr. Thomas prevailed upon the roads running to the Pacific coast to let him send five cars to California to test carrying fruit from there to

Chicago. The fruit growers were skeptical and would not allow their fruit to be shipped in these cars, so the Thomas firm had to buy the fruit with which to load them. The experiment was successful, and the possibilities in the development

of this traffic were immediately realized. This was in 1888.

Soon the Thomases, together with Mr. Hutchins, formed the California Fruit Transportation Company, (known as the C. F. T.), which rented cars of the Hutchins Refrigerator Car Company, a corporation which had been formed for the purpose of building and owning the cars, for $8.33 a month each. This company operated for a couple of years at enormous profits and its success allured others into the field.

Soon the Goodell Line, owned by Porter Brothers, began in the California trade, and then came the Continental Fruit Express (known as the C. F. X.), owned by Mr. Edwin T. Earl.

It was about this time (1890), that Armour became interested in the fruit traffic,

and it is alleged that Earl got his first refrigerators from him. At any rate, there soon ensued a fierce competition for the traffic, and cut rates and rebates were granted indiscriminately.

Armour became allied with Porter Brothers, and later absorbed that company. The relations between Armour and this company were investigated in the

Interstate Commerce Commission hearing of October, 1904.

The cutting of rates was carried to such an extent that the Thomas Company became embarrassed, and after a few futile efforts to maintain its business, it was forced to the wall. The C. F. T. was later absorbed by Swift, and is

now one of the lines operated by him.

Not long after this, the Earl Company, C. F. X., was bought out by Armour at

a high price, for this company had increased its equipment and business and had not been driven to the wall under the stress of competition.

After this, the fruits of California were carried mainly in Armour cars, until late in the nineties when the Santa Fe began to build an adequate supply of refrigerators.

As stated above, it was not until about 1890 that Armour became interested in the fruit traffic. Previous to that time his refrigerator-car equipment was used only in hauling  dressed meats. He began by building 1000 cars for the carriage of fruits and vegetables, and sent men into the fruit-growing sections of the country to demonstrate the practicability of his cars and to solicit business.

The traffic developed, and he soon built another thousand cars. By building its own cars, and by acquiring the cars of other companies, the Armour Car Lines soon became the most powerful company in the business.

The equipment of some fifteen to twenty different concerns, some of them very

small, have been purchased by the Armour Company from first to last, but they now operate principally under the following names: Armour Car Lines (in the meat traffic), Fruit Growers' Express, and the Continental Fruit Express.

Nolan Hinshaw
 

On Mar 29, 2020, at 09:40, Bob Chaparro via Groups.Io <chiefbobbb=verizon.net@groups.io> wrote:

Early Fruit Transportation

From the 1908 book, Private Freight Cars And American Railways by
It's also at Giggle[sic] Books: <https://books.google.com/books?id=0e9AAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Private+Freight+Cars+And+American+Railways&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjR6a_zm8DoAhUOT6wKHWe4D1MQ6AEwAHoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=Private%20Freight%20Cars%20And%20American%20Railways&f=false>
--
"Honor is a mere scutcheon."
John Falstaff, Henry IV Part 1
V.i.129–139

Tony Thompson
 

Bob Chaparro wrote:

Early Fruit Transportation

From the 1908 book, Private Freight Cars And American Railways by

Louis Dwight Harvell:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t60584r0q&view=1up&seq=9


    Tin the early part of the 20th century, there was considerable controversy about private freight cars, and this book is one of many. The citation quoted by Bob is typical of many early writers, who believe what they saw in publicity releases or promotional materials. In fact, fruit was shipped from the west coast almost as soon as the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, and refrigerator cars (and ventilated fruit cars) were very much in existence at the time.  (See John White's book.) Design of such cars did improve in the following decades, and any number of inventors claimed that THEIR car was the basis of fruit transportation.
     Much of this history was included in Chapter 3 of the PFE book. I digested a considerable amount of history, as documented in the bibliography of the PFE book, and used it in writing that chapter.

Tony Thompson



earlyrail
 

Great book. I have a copy somewhere.
But the authors last name is WELD.  He has those 3 given names.
Howard Garner

Tony Thompson
 

Howard Garner wrote:

Great book. I have a copy somewhere.
But the authors last name is WELD.  He has those 3 given names.

    Thanks for this, Howard. I realized I forgot to make this correction in my comment. Weld's book is of course cited in my bibliography for PFE Chapter 3. 

Tony Thompson