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JON'S TRAILWAYS HISTORY CORNER

Reference Page




Jon's Trailways History Corner

A Look Back Into "The History of Trailways Buslines"

Jon Hobijn,founder of Blue Ridge Trailways driving "The Red Ghost"


Click on play to hear Twilight Time->




Hello, my name is Jon Hobijn Welcome to "JON'S TRAILWAYS HISTORY CORNER".

This website came about as a result of my participation in an internet group called "Trailways_Bus_Drivers" hosted at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Trailways_Bus_Driver. In the course of our discussions about Trailways and it's history, the list owner, Charles Wiggins, began to nudge me towards writing down what our past was. At first I doubted that many people were interested, but Charles pointed out that a historical record didn't exist, and because my skills on the computer are limited, he designed and built this site to encourage me.

So, here are my musings and memories of Trailways, not that I'm so smart, but because I was lucky enough to be near great people who didn't mind answering my questions. I hope I asked the ones you would have asked. If something occurs to you as you read and the answer isn't there, send an e-mail and I'll do my best to answer you.

I've tried to illustrate the installments with appropriate pictures. Some are publicity shots from the various companies, some are from my collection and many are from the Redden Archives Collection. Bob Redden has spent a life time photographing not only buses, but all transportation, and his willingness to share his efforts is as valuable to this endeavor as my written words. Finally, though, my special thanks to Charles Wiggins who has put this together and made it all possible... he is truly the wind beneath my wings.

Join "us" now as we take a look back at the History of Trailways.

Thanks Jon, for all the kind words. If you didn't write the History of Trailways story, this would be a blank green page. ----Charles Wiggins----

Jon and his dog Miller




Installment One

Burlington Trailways

I was going through some of the paper stuff I've accumulated over the years and had the idea that I might post some timetable scans -- the covers that is - that were eye catching and maybe comment a little about the companies that put them out or what was going on with the association at that time.

The first one is the oldest Trailways timetable I have, issued April 5, 1936.  The National Trailways Bus System was formed on February 2,1936, in Chicago, Illinois, with five founding members, Burlington, Santa Fe, Missouri Pacific, Safeway of Illinois and Martz.

The idea for the association and the two key players were Burlington and Santa Fe.  Missouri Pacific joined because they saw the other two railroad properties starting something and they didn't want to be left out.  Safeway of Illinois and Martz were recruited by Burlington and Santa Fe to provide a feed from the east for their buses at Chicago.

As you can see by the scan of the advertising piece from the center of the timetable, little more than two months later, there were eight members, adding the Rio Grande Motorway, Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo Motorway and Denver-Salt Lake-Pacific Stages.  By July, those eight members had doubled to 16 members in those three months and included Tri-State Transit which would become Continental Southern Lines and Bowen Motor Coaches which became Continental Bus System.

The reason the Trailways "idea" caught on so fast is in one word, Greyhound. In the late 20's and early 30's, Motor Transit Management (Greyhound) was busy putting together a nationwide system of bus companies using the Greyhound name and the public was beginning to recognize Greyhound as a company who could take you coast to coast.  While Greyhound wouldn't finish buying out the railroad interests until the late 40's and early 50's, they succeeded in getting the name out there.

Obviously, while Burlington and Santa Fe could promote their services in their service area, they could not afford to maintain off line offices and do advertising promotion away from home.  On the same tack, Martz might be known as having service to Buffalo, Chicago or Cleveland, but not San Francisco.

Trailways was an attempt to form a non-profit operating trade association to spread a common name coast to coast with each member representing the other members as if it were his service.  Worked too.  Most people fail to see that the secret to making Trailways work is to loose yourself inside the association.  Best example of that were the east coast carriers during the 60's-70's and 80's when all you saw on the bus was Trailways except for the certificate lettering on the baggage doors.  During that period. with the exception of Continental, all the member company's buses were just marked "Trailways," Martz being the sole exception.

Well that's installment one. 

Jon

Click Here for photo

Click Here for photo



Installment Two

Bowen Motor Coaches


Bowen Motor Coaches, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, dated from the early 1920's and was owned by the two Bowen Brothers, although R. C. Bowen was the brother most associated with the company.  It grew to an operation stretching out over 1,500 miles and serving virtually every Texas city of any size.

In 1925, Bowen operated a trucking business serving the oil field pipe line industry, but he grew restless and started a passenger jitney service.  The nucleus of the Bowen system was achieved by purchasing 42 different carriers in Texas.  At its zenith, Bowen was one of the two largest operator in Texas, the other being Southwestern Greyhound Lines.  Bowen's feelings were that the maximum life for a bus was 500,000 miles and so that found him replacing one-third of his fleet every year.  He felt it was cheaper to operate a new bus than to maintain an old one.  Pictured is a 1938 model Flxible Clipper which is most unusual for the time period as it was air conditioned.  The timetable shows a Bowen ACF 37-PB a year prior to the sale in 1942.

Bowen came into the Trailways association in early 1938, complementing the operations of Dixie Trailways coming into Dallas from the east.  By this time, Bowen's route structure was generally as follows.....  Dallas-Wichita Falls-Amarillo, Dallas-Houston-Corpus Christi, Dallas-San Antonio (over two routes)-Corpus Christi, and Dallas-San Angelo.  Without a doubt, Bowen dominated their service area and this was the case when the Bowen Brothers sold the company in 1943.  The buyer was a fellow from Arkansas named Maurice E. Moore.

Maurice Moore's career in the bus business began in Memphis working for a man named Fred Smith, whose son Fred Smith, Jr. years later would conceive of the idea for Federal Express and is the CEO of that company today.  Fred Jr.'s father was president of Dixie Greyhound Lines and Moore was one of his Traveling Passenger Agents.

Moore left Dixie Greyhound in the late 30's and with several other men as minor investors, purchased sixteen Flxible buses and began Arkansas Motor Coaches, Ltd., operating from Little Rock via Hot Springs to Texarkana on the Arkansas-Texas state   line.  They later extended the line from Little Rock to Memphis over a route which duplicated that of Missouri Pacific.  By 1943, Moore had became sole owner of Arkansas Motor Coaches.

In 1943 the Bowen Brothers had a unique problem.  They were the sole owners of Bowen Motor Coaches, a cash rich company to the tune of $40 million dollars.  The brothers had never taken big salaries and they wanted to take this cash out of their company.  Trouble was, Bowen Motor Coaches was a corporation and, in the eyes of the law, a legal entity,  In short, their accountant informed them that they were liable for taxes exceeding 30% of the $40 million.  The only solution, he told them, was to sell the company. Thus, in 1943, Maurice E. Moore from Arkansas Motor Coaches purchased Bowen Motor Coaches for the sum of $42 million dollars cash.  Two million from Moore and the other $40 million, cash from Bowen Motor Coaches, the Brother's own money.

Jon

Click Here for photo (Bowen-401_Flxible)

Click Here for photo (1942-Bowen-TT-42)


------ A followup to Installment Two------

[Doug Wilkerson wrote]

Do you know if there was any controversy between Missouri Pacific and Arkansas Motor Coaches over duplication of Memphis-Little Rock service? Maybe similar to MK & O and ABL up at St. Louis later?

Oh yes, very much so. Keep in mind that Moore came from Dixie Greyhound as a TPA, he didn't have any affiliation with NTBS and into the late 40's, Arkansas Motor Coaches was an independent operator, not NTBS, with their own station in Memphis, Little Rock and Texarkana, they didn't share any facilities with MoPac.. In Memphis they also served the Greyhound terminal. They didn't compete with Greyhound on the intermediate points between Memphis and Texarkana because Southwestern Greyhound's route went via Pine Bluff and not Little Rock.

I am unsure about when Missouri Pacific dropped out of Trailways, but my 1948 Guide still shows them as a member. However, sometime between 1948 and 1953, they went independent and became a Greyhound connector until the MoPac Railroad sold the company and it became Midwest Buslines and rejoined Trailways. The duplication of the MoPac route between Memphis and Texarkana is one thing which would have kept Arkansas Motor Coaches out of NTBS, given the size and clout of Missouri Pacific, if, in fact, Moore wanted it in the association at all.

Moore "inherited" his membership in NTBS when he bought Bowen and his first acquisitions, Santa Fe, Dixie Motor Coaches and Rio Grande were all NTBS members. However. Moore wasn't a "team player" with NTBS and his membership remained more a marriage of convenience than one of real choice. In fact, there was a time in the late 40's when Moore got pretty full of himself and began to letter his buses without the Trailways name at all, just "Continental" appeared on the roof as can be seen in this view of a small Flxible in the Dallas Terminal and a publicity shot of 581, a Rocky Mountain 4101 which was ordered by Rio Grande Motorway but delivered after its purchase by Moore.

Although Moore never gave up pushing his Continental name, he backed away from this experiment and returned to the "Trailways" lettering on the roof. Years later, his stand alone attitude and disinterest in cooperating with the rest of the association would cause the east coast members to form their own marketing group, "Trailways Eastern Lines," complete with their own advertising agency, but we'll tell that story later.

Jon

Click Here for photo (CBS-580_29BR44)

Click Here for photo (CRL-581_4101)



Installment Three

Santa Fe Trail Transportation


Of the five founding members of the National Trailways Bus System, by far the largest member was Santa Fe Trail Transportation with a main line stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, 2,240 miles, an operation in California stretching 529 miles from San Diego to San Francisco including 19 round trips a day between San Diego and L.A. and 14 round trips a day from L.A. to San Francisco, a 716 mile north-south line from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, 684 miles from Kansas City to Denver, and......  believe it or not, I still haven't mentioned all the major routes.  However that wasn't the case in the early 20's though, before the railroad had anything to do with it.

In 1924, what would grow to be the Santa Fe System consisted of only a few short bus routes radiating out of Wichita, Kansas, operating with enlarged passenger cars.  In order to survive and prosper, the companies all pulled together and pooled their resources as one company, Southern Kansas Stage Lines.  Gradually, they began to prosper.  Blue Bird Bus Lines from Wichita to Kansas City was purchased and in 1930, Kansas City to Tulsa was purchased from Rapid Auto Transit and from Wardway Lines came Tulsa to Muskogee, Ft. Smith, Fayetteville and Oklahoma City.

In 1933, routes were extended east from Kansas City to Chicago and St. Louis when Blue Motor Coach was bought and Santa Fe Trail Stages acquisition extended the operation 1,459 miles west from Wichita to Los Angeles via Tucumcari and Albuquerque.  Additional routes in Kansas and Nebraska and extending to Denver came from Cardinal Stage Lines.

In 1935 the name of the company was changed from Southern Kansas Stage Lines to Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company and later that year the AT&SF Railroad bought an interest in the company, acquiring a portion of the stock, marking the first time the railroad had any involvement with the bus line.

In 1936 the route from Phoenix to Salt Lake City via Flagstaff was purchased from Central Arizona Transportation along with the start up of National Trailways, in 1937 Rio Grande Stages from Albuquerque to El Paso pushed the operation south to the Mexican border.

In 1938, the AT&SF Railroad won intrastate rights from San Diego to Los Angeles and San Francisco, granted to Santa Fe Transportation Co., and in December of 1938, the AT&SF Railroad became the sole owner of the company. In 1938, Santa Fe and M. E. Moore's Continental, each owning 15.8% went in with other investors and formed a company called West Coast Bus Lines, Ltd. to operate from San Francisco, 906 miles north through Portland to Seattle. The ICC didn't award the route to West Coast until 1943 and then, action filed in Federal Court by North Coast Transportation (Portland-Seattle) caused a delay till 1944, but then the ODT prevented the actual startup until November 1945.  General Manager was Santa Fe's Gene Allen.  With Transcontinental's purchase of Santa Fe in 1948, Moore automatically had nearly one-third of West Coast.

Santa Fe also owned portions of D.C.S.P. Motorway, D.S.L.P. Stages with Burlington  and 50% of a company called Southern Kansas Greyhound Lines, the other 50% owned by Southwestern Greyhound.

As attachments I've included a June 1946 timetable decorated with fancy art work and 29 pages thick.  The Yellow Coach Z-CT-843 was shot in front of one of the missions in California and is probably as well known a shot of a Santa Fe bus is there is.  Interestingly enough, it is a restroom equipped car.  Santa Fe turned to ACF for their equipment though, and to the best of my knowledge, while Burlington was going diesel, Santa Fe stayed 100% gas right to the end.

The H-9-P and 29P were fairly typical of Santa Fe equipment and after the war, the main line was held down by IC-41's.

The Columbia Nite Coach was one of eight built in 1933 and run by Dwight Austin's Columbia Pacific Nite Coach Lines for almost two years before his operation was bought by Burlington.  Burlington wanted the rights but didn't use the buses, putting them into storage until they were sold to Santa Fe who refurbed them.  With eight buses, Santa Fe used them to run a daily round trip from Kansas City to Los Angeles, a service which continued for a number of years until they were converted to regular seated coaches during WWII.

In 1948, the AT&SF Railroad agreed to sell the bus portions of Santa Fe Trail Transportation to M. E. Moore's Transcontinental Bus System for cash and stock.  At the time of the sale, Santa Fe had 12,713 miles of routes. After the transaction, the AT&SF Railroad owned 39.08% of Transcontinental. The net book value of the railroad's holdings was $4,520,000.00, a considerable sum in 1948.

Jon

Click Here for photo (1946-SFe-TT-46)

Click Here for photo (SFe-23_ZCT843)

Click Here for photo (SFe_H9P)

Click Here for photo (SFe_ACF29P)

Click Here for photo (Nite-Bus)


......A followup to Installment Three......

Dick Shelley read my ramblings on Santa Fe and asked...  

Thanks for the history lessons.  I told you (as have others) that you should write a book.  You are, in a sense, doing it now but not getting paid.   

Doing the research for this, learning new things and then being able to share it is all the payment I need.  I'm not enough of a writer to be an author, but luckily I'm among friends here who forgive my shortcomings,

  However a question:  In the 60's, after Santa Fe became part of Continental, the station in Los Angeles (6th and Main) was signed as "ABL".  Didn't they both come to Los angeles from Chicago?  In other words, which came first, the chick or the egg?  

Yes, you're right, both Burlington and Santa Fe offered service between Chicago and Los Angeles, the BTCo via Davenport, Des Moines, Omaha, Cheyenne and Salt Lake City, and Santa Fe via Peoria, Quincy, Kansas City, Wichita, Tumcumcari, Albuquerque and Flagstaff.  Running time for the BTCo was 87 hours and for the Santa Fe 91 hours, so they were very close.  

Burlington purchased Columbia Pacific Nite Coach Lines on Dec. 24, 1934 gaining their eight buses and route structure from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Chicago paralleling Interstate Transit Lines, although the Union Pacific's Interstate Transit Lines never operated between Salt Lake City and San Francisco which would have competed with Pacific Greyhound's route between those points.  Burlington was not interested in continuing the sleeper service of Columbia Pacific and put the buses in storage until a later sale of them to Santa Fe.  Burlington had to wait for the delivery of 39 Yellow Coach Z-CT-843's in the Spring of 1935 in order to begin their Chicago to California service.  

However, in 1933, Southern Kansas Stage Lines (predecessor to Santa Fe Trailways) purchased Santa Fe Trail Stages' route from Wichita to Los Angeles, adding it to their existing route structure extending east from Wichita to Kansas City and Chicago.  Keep in mind that there were a number of companies operating under the "Santa Fe Trail System" name and none of them had any relationship to the railroad at that time.  Southern Kansas Stage Lines changed their name to Santa Fe Trail Transportation in 1935 and in late 1935, the AT&SF Railroad purchased a partial interest in the bus line.  

In many ways, it looks to be a dead heat between the two, but since Burlington, with a 100% ownership began service in the spring of 1935 and the AT&SF Railroad didn't become sole owner of the bus company until 1938, if you split hairs, it appears Burlington was first, but in this case I think bragging rights would start a heck of a fight .  

Do you have a map of the Santa Fe system?  By that, I mean not one that was integrated into the Continental system.  I have that one.

  Here is a map of Santa Fe's system prior to its incorporation into the Transcontinental (Continental) Bus System in 1948 with Santa Fe's routes shown in red.  

Also, here's a picture of one of the Santa Fe Trail Stages Yellow Coach Z-CP-788's.  This is the company purchased by Southern Kansas Stage Lines which ran from Wichita to Los Angeles.  Their colors were blue and white.

  Jon

Click Here for photo (SFe-Map)

Click Here for photo (SFeTrail-7_YC-ZCP788)



Installment Four


Missouri Pacific

As more and more regional bus systems evolved in the mid-1930's, the concept of creating another nationwide operation to compete effectively with the emerging Greyhound system became more and more attractive. In the summer of 1935, a committee was formed, chaired by Burlington's president, H. W. Stewart, with the intent of creating a new national system. It consisted of representatives from three large western railroad bus operations, Burlington, Santa Fe (largest and most influential of the group), and Missouri Pacific, and two eastern companies with no railroad affiliation -- Chicago based Safeway Lines, Inc. and Pennsylvania based Frank Martz Coach Co., both operating from Chicago to New York City over different routes.

While Burlington's Stewart came up with the idea and then pitched it to the Santa Fe, Missouri Pacific took notice of what was in the wind with Burlington and Santa Fe and decided they didn't want to be left out of whatever was about to happen. Buses, however, were not a lately thing to Missouri Pacific in 1935.

The railroads first saw buses as a means to replace branch and feeder line rail service that was financially marginal. This was especially the case with the C.B.&Q. (Burlington) whose first bus operations were confined largely to Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska and were designed to feed their passenger trains. Santa Fe didn't follow this pattern and didn't get into the bus business until the mid 1930's when they purchased a partial interest in a very large, established operating bus company with routes stretching from Chicago west to Los Angeles. If any thing, Missouri Pacific started earlier and combined both feeder and long distance bus service. The concept of long distance bus service which competed with a railroad's own passenger trains came about as the nation's railroads began to see the emerging Greyhound system begin to compete for their passengers. In essence, they didn't want another dog getting in their yard and stealing their bone.

The Missouri Pacific's bus line was created in 1928 when it applied for 23 routes which literally duplicated their rail passenger service. At the same time, they offered to buy fourteen independent bus lines along their routes and one by one, the small regional carriers sold out. In 1936, when the association was formed, Missouri Pacific's bus operations added 13,870 miles of routes to the new National Trailways Bus System and of the original five members, they were the only one who didn't serve Chicago.

The attached route map shows the extent of Missouri Pacific's routes. Their main line was from St. Louis to Houston via Little Rock and Texarkana with an important branch line from Little Rock to Memphis along with a very strong route between St. Louis and Kansas City via Jefferson City, the state capitol, which they served exclusively. Interestingly, they had two orphan operations, one from Corpus Christi to Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley and the other from Algiers, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, down into the delta to a place called The Jump. Strangely, they never applied to cross the river to New Orleans, although Continental would years later.

Around 1950, the railroad pulled their bus operation out of the Trailways association and began connecting with Greyhound at all their junction points. For the most part, the main reason for the switch were continuing conflicts with M. E. Moore and Continental Trailways. During this time, Missouri Pacific applied to the Texas Railroad Commission for authority to operate between Houston and Corpus Christi to connect with their existing operations from Corpus Christi into the Rio Grande Valley. This route competed with Moore's Continental Bus System division, and Missouri Pacific only succeeded in getting Texas intrastate authority on the route.

In 1955, the railroad decided to sell the bus company and a new company, Midwest Buslines, Inc. was formed to purchase it from the railroad. The head of Midwest Buslines was Trammell Crowe of Little Rock, a very well known name in real estate and investments, and a confident of M. E. Moore from his days with Arkansas Motor Coaches. By 1960, Midwest Buslines had become Continental Midwest Lines, however, even though it was officially under Moore's expanding empire, Trammell Crowe remained as President.

Some interesting photos for you. A line up of Yellow Coach Z-CT-843's at Pontiac and being delivered as the association was getting underway. A PDA-3702 in the St. Louis Terminal signed up for Little Rock and then the last bus picture.....

It's number 803 of Midwest Buslines, and it carries the same fleet number as it did for Missouri Pacific, its a strange beast indeed. Not long before Missouri Pacific sold the company, they were looking at equipment. The last buses they purchased new were GM PD-4104's in 1954, a bus that instantly made every other bus in your fleet look old. MoPac's shop decided they could update the older 3702's and 3703's of which they had many, so they took those buses, like the one in the previous picture of 794, and put a 3704/4102 front end on them, and 4104 side windows and silversided them.... and got 803. They didn't just do one either, they did bunches and they were common sights along the MoPac routes for a number of years.

The obvious question arises, how could that extensive a rebuild be economically feasible on 8 to 10 year old equipment? I haven't got the answer, but from the numbers they converted, obviously their shop and general management thought it was.

Jon

Click Here for photo (MoP-Map)

Click Here for photo (MoP-660_ZCT843)

Click Here for photo (MoP-794_3702)

Click Here for photo (MBL-803_3702rebuild)

These two pictures show Missouri Pacific's buses after they dropped out of Trailways.  They were blue and cream.

Click Here for photo (MoP-908_3704)

Click Here for photo (MoP-940_4104)


Followup questions:

> 1. Looking at the M.P. map, was the Kansas City-Pueblo route ever > important in the national system?

No, that was 678 miles across nowhere in Kansas and into eastern Colorado. The route was strictly a case of MoPac replacing railroad branch line passenger service which was complicated by the fact that they had U.S. Mail contracts on it too. The service wasn't even operated all the way through, but was broken at a town called Hoisington (pop 3,381 today and 11 miles north of Great Bend!). The only intermediate town of any size it served was Salina, Kansas. In 1943, the service was suspended just west of Hoisington but was later restored and in the 50's, the Hoisington to Kansas City section only ran three days a week, while west of there to Pueblo was daily.

Here's a picture of one of the buses which ran it, a small Beck Steeliner combo car. You can see the last three windows have been blanked out for the express compartment, so you can imagine what kind of passenger loads it handled. The picture was taken at Hoisington, Kansas,

> 2. Do any of the updated 3702/03 buses still exist?

Dunno, but it's doubtful since they would be about 55 years old now. The last one I saw belonged the Illinois Highway Transportation in Peoria, Illinois and that was in the early 60's. I don't know of any that were ever put aside for preservation. Other than being an "interesting curiosity," the result kind of puts you in mind of an Australian platypus, a little mixture of everything, although, from the outside, in person, they weren't unattractive. Needless to say, no other bus companies duplicated MoPac's effort. They still were powered by a Detroit 471 engine, which means they were gutless and had a top speed of 57-58 mph and what sounded like straight pipes!

Jon

Click Here for photo (MoP-401_Beck)




Installment Five

Martz Coach/Safeway Lines



There were two founding members of the National Trailways Bus System whose routes went east from Chicago to New York City, Frank Martz Coach Co. based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Safeway Lines, Inc. based in Chicago.

FRANK MARTZ COACH CO. - The origins of the Martz operation date from 1912 when Frank Martz Sr. began White Bus Co., operating in the local Wilkes-Barre area.  Frank Martz Coach Co. was incorporated in 1927.  At first, Martz's intercity routes radiated out of the Wilkes-Barre - Scranton area to New York City, Philadelphia, Albany, Utica, Syracuse and Rochester. Before long, Martz buses were running west to Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago and through service from New York City to Chicago was begun.

Frank Martz Sr. wasn't afraid of innovation and between 1926 and 1933 also operated three airplanes which provided air service out of Newark Airport to Wilkes-Barre, Elmira and Buffalo.  A 1930 timetable advertised "By airway or highway."

In the spring of 1930, Martz began "Club Coach" service with two specially outfitted buses configured like a parlor in someone's house.  The service became quite popular and eighteen more "Club Coaches" were ordered.  In the early 1930's, Martz had 150 buses stationed at garages in 10 cities between New York and Chicago.

Martz also pioneered express schedules, eliminating local stops and put porters or hostesses on the buses luring many new patrons.  It was no surprise then, with Frank Martz's eye for innovation, that he joined the new Trailways association in 1936.  Unfortunately, Frank Martz Sr. died that same year and his son, Frank Martz Jr. became the company's new president.

While many of the innovations that had been made were kept, it was realized that the depression was cutting deeply into revenues on some of the far flung lines and a receiver was brought in by the creditors to try and save the company.  Before long, the only line service which was left was from Wilkes-Barre - Scranton to Philadelphia and New York City  and before the 1930's were over, Martz dropped their Trailways membership.  Martz remained independent until 1961 when they rejoined Trailways and moved out of the Dixie Bus Terminal and into the Port Authority Terminal.

SAFEWAY LINES, INC. -  Begun by Paul O. Dittmar in 1931, it was based on the idea of operating fast, deluxe bus service between Chicago and New York City.  The two concepts of the service were small 14-passenger automobile-style buses and non-stop express service.

Dittmar hired Harry Fitzjohn founder of the Fitzjohn Manufacturing Co., but no longer associated with that company, to design a low-slung parlor-style bus that would be called the Dittmar-Fitzjohn Autocoach, and Reo built the first 10 to allow service to begin in 1933.  The operation didn't last a great deal longer than the company's use of the small Autocoaches or the non-stop schedule and by the time Safeway joined Trailways, the company was running larger sized buses and making intermediate stops.

With Martz gone and Safe Way failing financially, three Trailways members decided something had to be done to preserve their western feed and connections and when Safe Way declared bankruptcy in 1938, Adirondack, Virginia and Eastern Trailways formed a new company to buy the assets from the receivers.

NORTHERN TRAILS, INC. - Northern took over the lease of Safe Way's nine buses from the lessor, Santa Fe Trail Transportation Co.  In 1939, an agreement was signed whereby Aaron Greenleaf, 91% owner of Eastern Trails and formerly general Manager of Santa Fe would buy controlling stock interest in Northern Trails, transfer Eastern Trail's Pittsburgh line to Northern and then sell Eastern to Safeway Trails of Washington , DC, another new company which had been formed in 1937 to succeed Short Line of Pennsylvania on the Washington to New York City route.

Northern Trails was no more able to compete strongly for Chicago traffic than the bankrupt Safe Way Lines had been, and the presumption is that Northern lost money pretty steadily.  In 1942, application was made to sell Northern to American Buslines.  This was approved by the ICC in 1944 and on December 28th of that year, Northern Trails was merged into American.  The merger gave American rights to serve Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington (from Eastern Trails) and at the same time American abandoned  the Columbus, Ohio to Chicago route segment of their Pittsburgh to Chicago route in favor of the routing via Akron, Cleveland and Toledo, the Northern Trails route.

Jon

Click Here for photo (FMC_Map)

Click Here for photo (FMC_White54A)

Click Here for photo (SW-DitFtz)

Click Here for photo (NorthernTr-122_37PB)


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