Companies You’ve Never Heard Of: White Line Motor Freight, Inc.

Here we go again to the early years of trucking shortly after regulation by the Interstate Commission Commission started. This time we present another company you have never heard of, only because it grew fast and got bought quickly. This is the history of White Line Motor Freight, Inc. based in Des Moines, Iowa. They were a common carrier with a sister contract carrier company called White Line Trucking Co.

By June 1935 White Line Motor Freight was already operating routes in nine states from Nebraska and Iowa across to Tennessee and Kentucky. In September of the same year they had 118 trucks in the fleet and needed 50 more since a terminal was being opened in Chicago, Illinois at 3115 South Wallace Street. Prior to opening their own terminal in Chicago, White Line depended on local cartage companies to pick up and deliver freight in that city. At this point the major route for White Line was between Des Moines to Chicago with infrequent trips to the eastward states.

In June 1936 White Line purchased Battle Creek Motor Freight Company, which not only extended the line from Chicago to Detroit but added terminals in the Michigan cities of Benton Harbor, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Lansing and Detroit. The White Line fleet was now up to 150 units.

Like a lot of other companies before the ICC hearings attempting to get expansive territory and routes granted due to “grandfather clause”, White Line could not prove consistent operations on a majority of routes prior to June 1935. The routes granted to White Line were between Omaha and Chicago. Even though the operations had been scaled back, the growth of the company had been noticed.

In April 1938 Rock Island Motor Transit Co. got ICC approval to purchase White Line Motor Freight. Besides Omaha and Chicago, other White Line terminals involved in the acquisition were in Iowa cities of Atlantic, Newton, Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids. This brought an end to the short history of White Line.


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