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Swift and California Fruit Transportation Company

Richard Townsend
 

A 1906 Railway Gazette article I read says Swift & Co. bought the California Fruit Transportation Company, which had gotten into financial trouble after tangling with a big fruit shipper in California. Does anyone have any information on this company and its cars. At one point it owned over 600 reefers.

I also read that Swift owned three refrigerator car lines. I assume the Swift Refrigerator Transportation Company was one of the three, and perhaps the California Fruit Transportation Company was another. Does anyone have any information on any other reefer line owned by Swift?

Richard Townsend
Lincoln City, OR

Tony Thompson
 

Richard Townsend wrote:

A 1906 Railway Gazette article I read says Swift & Co. bought the California Fruit Transportation Company, which had gotten into financial trouble after tangling with a big fruit shipper in California. Does anyone have any information on this company and its cars. At one point it owned over 600 reefers.

    There is a brief summary of this topic in Chapter 3 of the PFE book. CFT was the first big, private fruit shipper, and operated 600 cars by 1891, but their high rates led to several other concerns being formed to compete with them. Prominent among them was Continental Fruit Express, perhaps the big shipper you mentioned (the large Earl fruit company was behind the founding of CFX), the Goodell California line, and California Fruit Express.
     By 1895 Swift had indeed absorbed CFT, but Armour, a bigger shipper of both meat and produce, had absorbed all the others into its Fruit Growers Express. That FGE is not the one we know from more recent times, but was simply an Armour subsidiary for produce shipping. When Armour was forced out of the produce business by the Federal Trade Commission in 1919, a new company was organized to obtain the reefers and operate the produce business. They purchased Armour's cars and other facilities, as well as the FGE name, in 1920.

Tony Thompson