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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with L. Worth Harris, June 11, 1980. Interview H-0164. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Trucking competes with rails in the freight business

Service made long-haul shipping a trucker's business, explains Harris in this excerpt. Railroads could not provide the flexibility and convenience of trucks, and soon companies like Harris's took over freight that had once been the provenance of railroads, including rubber and textiles.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with L. Worth Harris, June 11, 1980. Interview H-0164. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What about the relationship between the trucking and the railroads in this earlier period? In other words, why was it that you all could make a place for yourselves beginning a trucking industry? Why couldn't the railroads have just carried this freight that you all were hauling from New York?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
First place, the railroads just could not give the service that we would give. For instance, we could pick up a freight here on a Wednesday morning, we'll say, and Friday morning we would assure the people that it would be delivered to their door in New York City or anywhere up in that territory. And the railroads just could not give that kind of service, so we started getting railroad freight. There's no question about it. Service is what made the trucking industry for long-haul freight.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What were you all hauling to New York then?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
North-bound, the biggest thing we'd haul was textiles from North and South Carolina. In fact, my company didn't go any further south than South Carolina. But mostly textiles, some tires. McLean Rubber Company was a real good customer of ours, and they shipped everywhere. But textiles, mainly, going north, and coming south we kept a real good-had to-balanced operation. But just about everything come south; we hauled just about everything you can think of, south-bound.
ALLEN TULLOS:
There would be a lot of finished goods, more than unprocessed things?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
Coming south, the biggest things that we hauled was, oh, just say almost anything you think of: batteries and canned goods. We hauled everything A & P shipped from the New York-New Jersey area to the South Carolina places. Proctor and Gamble was a big customer of ours.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What were the textile companies that you hauled for back then?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
We hauled for just about all of them. Our biggest customer was Celanese Corporation. We handled an awful lot of freight from Celanese from all of their plants in South Carolina and North Carolina going east. Burlington Mills was a good customer of ours.