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Jon's Trailways History Corner Part-2

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Installment Twenty-Seven


Mount Hood Stages,Inc.

The story of Mount Hood Stages for most of its history was centered on Bend, a small town in Central Oregon's high desert. Although others were involved, the company's origins, rise and fortunes are predominantly associated with two men, Myrl Hoover and William Niskanen.

Meryl Hoover was born at the turn of the century, in 1900, and at the age of 15 began driving a Model T Ford in his father's for-hire jitney service around Bend. He was quite the entrepreneur and in the following year, at 16, he took over the jitney portion of his dad's business and upgraded his vehicle to a 12 passenger Studebaker which could also accommodate freight.

1929 brought his first major expansion as Hoover began operating on a regular basis from Bend, 80 miles north to Shaniko to connect with the Union Pacific's trains. Meryl's family owned the Ford-Lincoln automobile dealership in Bend and the building was remodeled to serve as the depot, office and garage of the operation, now known as Hoover Stages. The same building continued in this function for the next 50 plus years, until new owners, Baldwin United, moved the headquarters to Portland.

The dominant bus operator in the region was Columbia Gorge Motor Coach Co. Which was owned by Pickwick Stages. Pickwick then combined with Pacific Greyhound who was moving to gain a foothold into Oregon from California in the south. Oregon's population was pretty much located along the Pacific Coast and once you crossed the Cascade Mountains into Oregon's high desert, the population was pretty sparse. In 1931 Columbia Gorge was ready to give up two routes, Portland east to Government Camp and The Dalles, on the Columbia River south to Bend. Hoover saw the opportunity and took the routes over and together with Del Mattson who was running a line from The Dalles to Maupin, formed and incorporated Mount Hood Stages on May 20, 1931.

Pickwick-Greyhound's Columbia Gorge operation had also operated east from Portland to Salt Lake City, competing with Union Pacific Stages (owned by the Union Pacific Railroad) through this sparsely populated region and the decision was made to withdraw from the route and enter into interline ticketing with Union Pacific Stages, leaving Pickwick-Greyhound to concentrate on the more populous routes from Portland south to California. This operation would shortly become Pacific Greyhound Lines while the Union Pacific operation would years later trade under the name of and then become Overland Greyhound.

From the cutbacks in the Pickwick organization, Gene Allen decided to join Hoover and Mattson in Mount Hood. Through his prior associations at Pickwick and Greyhound, Allen in 1933 secured the Pacific Greyhound route crossing the Santiam Pass from Eugene to Bend. This was a seasonal line which operated from June to October. Through the winter and spring, winter snows made Santiam Pass impassable. 1933 also saw Mount Hood begin service from Bend south over Highway 97 to Klamath Falls after the former operator tired of the difficulty in operating and for very few passengers.

With Mount Hood operating from The Dalles to Klamath Falls, Portland to Bend and Eugene to Bend, Gene Allen sold his interest in Mount Hood to Myrl and his brother Maurice. In 1934, Del Mattson sold his shares, but continued as a driver for Mount Hood. Gene Allen began working for Santa Fe Trail Transportation in California, becoming an official in that company and a major personality in the fledgling National Trailways Bus System in 1936. Gene Allen wasn't through with the Pacific Northwest though, with the Santa Fe's backing, formed West Coast Bus Lines in 1938. After years of delays, this company, under Allen, would commence service from San Francisco to Seattle in 1945. Years later, under Continental's ownership, Mount Hood's William Niskanen was offered the former West Coast authority for $1.00. He turned Continental down, describing it years later as having been one of the stupidest things he ever did.

In 1934, Mount Hood began its expansion eastward, acquiring authority from William Kinney from Bend to Burns. With Kinney's route came a U.S. Mail contract and the bus driver delivered mail to every mailbox along the route. In addition he also had to open and close the cattle and livestock gates as they crossed the highway. Another route that was more a postman than a bus route was acquired from Buddy Richmond running south from Bend to Lakeview. This route was eventually transferred to an individual and ended up being run by Max Weaver, although Mount Hood did all his traffic work gratis. They were just afraid if the operator quit, the Oregon P.U.C. would force Mount Hood to take it back. Bill Moore's route from Bend to Prineville was acquired and Mount Hood extended the route to Prairie City. Moore remained as a driver and later a supervisor for Mount Hood.

In the summer of 1935, Mount Hood purchased Charles Howard's authority from Burns to Ontario. The route, serving the one intermediate town of Vale, served only to get Mount Hood to the Idaho border. That fall, a bus line from Weiser, Idaho, through Ontario to Boise named Gem State Stages and belonging to William Harris was purchased. Mount Hood was running from Portland to Boise now.

Mount Hood Stages joined the National Trailways Bus System on January 1, 1943 and ever after became known as Pacific Trailways, although the corporate name would remain the original Mount Hood Stages.. At the time, their routes did not touch another Trailways member carriers routes. Although West Coast Bus Lines had been formed in 1938 and obviously was destined to be a Trailways member, they would not begin operations until 1945. What revenue there was for the company existed at either end of the line, with miles of high desert and no people in between. At least now, passengers in their territory could go east, and for now Pacific Trailways would transfer their passengers to Union Pacific Stages in Boise to continue east.

Then in 1945, Union Pacific's drivers struck, experiencing a very lengthy work stoppage. In an unusual move, the Idaho PUC asked Pacific Trailways to begin immediate service to Salt Lake City, as the Union Pacific had been the only carrier. Pacific Trailways (PT) began service, literally with their traffic man just an hour or so in front of the first schedule, signing up agents. Now PT finally touched another member on the east, Burlington Trailways.

The very early days of Mount Hood's operations were with most unusual buses, many manufactured and sold only in the northwest. However, after 1940 small 29 passenger Buick powered Flxibles had became the mainstays, including operating the new route to Salt Lake City. The small Flxibles, though, quickly weren't able to handle the loads on the main Portland to Salt Lake City line, and in 1948, with no larger product from Flxible available, Pacific turned to 37 passenger Aerocoaches. The Red Diamond gas engine in the Aerocoaches did not perform well for PT and all the Aerocoaches were repowered with 471 Detroit Diesels. The repowered Aerocoaches had belts running all over the back end and had a nasty habit of throwing the belts. It was jokingly said that PT kept Aerocoaches parked strategically along their routes to back up the Aerocoaches. PT purchased Aerocoaches right up to the last, operating the P-372 MCA model, which some say was the best looking Aerocoach. With the demise of Aerocoach, PT finally turned to GM in 1952, purchasing three PD-4103 diesels.

Over the years PT was involved in a number of other operations. For a time Mount Hood operated air service, however it was reported that the pilot had poor vision, possibly explaining the crash of the airplane. Its total loss ended Mount Hood's air service. A tramway at Mount hood was operated from Government Camp to Timberline Lodge and was actively promoted by the company. Additionally a sightseeing operation in Portland was begun. Named Rose City Tours, PT traded one of their normal Aerocoaches to Burlington Trailways for one of that carrier's glass top models. PT also took over the operation of service into Crater Lake National Park near Klamath Falls in Southern Oregon. Lastly, a service from Bend to nearby Mount Bachelor Ski Resort was begun. Run under the name Resort Bus Lines with a specially painted ex-PT 4104, it was the only one that lasted and was finally sold to an ex-employee, Vince Bruno.

PT's financial stability came from its role as a "bridge" carrier running through its own sparsely populated terrain. A west bound bus from Boise had better have a paying load on board, because the next place of any note to pick up passengers was 7 hours east with virtually only Ontario (pop >10K) and Burns (pop. >2,900) in between.

In 1951, a thru bus from Spokane to San Francisco began with Overland Greyhound running from Spokane to The Dalles, then PT running to Klamath Falls and finally Pacific Greyhound running into San Francisco. The overhead or "thru" traffic supported this marginal route.

In 1956, thru service began with Continental Pacific between Seattle and Salt Lake City, This was PT's first pool service with another Trailways carrier and in order to institute the service, PT had to subsidize Continental Pacific by only charging them half rate for the use of PT's equipment. Without this subsidy, Continental refused to operate the extra Portland Seattle trips. Quickly, the thru runs from Seattle were extended to run through Salt Lake City to Denver, St. Louis and Dallas. A thru bus from Seattle to Chicago was also operated about 1960, after the strike on American Buslines was settled. Standard equipment on these long distance pool runs was the PD-4104 air ride with lavatories after they became available in 1957. Pressured by Continental, PT began purchasing Eagles in 1961, continuing until 1975 with one final Brownsville Model 05. During this period, PT also continued to buy GM, purchasing 4106's, 4107's and 4108's. The GM buses were used on local line schedules and for charters and for doubles on the main line. One 4106 was specially ordered without a lavatory to run from Sweet Home to Corvallis, there being no location to service the holding tank each day.

The Spokane-San Francisco thru bus had begun in 1951 as a result of a strike at Pacific Greyhound's terminal in Portland. As a result, passengers were diverted around the Portland routing and over PT"s north south line from The Dalles to Klamath Falls on their journeys from eastern Washington to California. With the strike settled, the thru bus ended but was reinstated later in the year. Only Greyhound buses were used on this service as Pacific Greyhound did not want PT's red equipment in their terminals. The mileage rate was so low that PT could hardly afford to protest, constantly buying the miles and it wasn't until the first MC-8's came in 1978 that one bus was equipped with an automatic transmission for use in the Greyhound pool.

Though I have read accounts that William Niskanen owned an interest in Mount Hood from the early days, he never indicated that to me in personal recollections while I worked for him. Meryl Hoover owned Mount Hood along with another company, Eureka Reading Stages in California, trading as Redwood Empire Lines. Hoover was in declining health and semi-retired and living in California. Running the day to day operations for him back in Oregon was William Niskanen as General Manager, George Warrington as comptroller, Tom Donahue as Traffic Manager, Len Bolton as Operations Manager and Ron Gallagher as Director of Maintenance.

The agreement was that when the time came to make an ownership change, Hoover would sell the company to these five individuals, i.e. Niskanen, Warrington, Donahue, Bolton and Gallagher. The situation worked well except that every time a major decision had to be made, Niskanen had to travel to California to discuss it with Hoover, who would make a decision. Hoover's health was getting bad, and in 1959, Niskanen convinced him "it was time." This was fine with Myrl and he intended to honor his word, but his relatives back in Bend went ballistic when they found out and filed suit to block the sale. With the law suits swirling and legal bills looming on the horizon, Niskanen suggested to the other four men that it would be easier to fight Hoover's relatives as a single entity and convinced them to sign their ownership interests over to him. Then afterwards, they could divide things up. They agreed. For six years the legal battles continued with Niskanen finally prevailing as Myrl Hoover had promised. The only problem was that Niskanen didn't divide the ownership in PT back up, he went back on his word. Worse yet, the other four men continued working for the company. You have to have been there and worked amongst them to appreciate what a cozy situation that made. Each one of them despised Niskanen, Warrington, who became general manager, especially. For his part, it never bothered Bill, in fact he was quite proud that he engineered a slick deal.

The purchase of the company was laid out in three payments, the final one being a balloon payment. When the time came to make the second payment, he virtually stripped every cent out of the company and was able to make it. However the final payment came due and the money wasn't there. Niskanen was going to loose the company and Hoover's relatives would have it after all - with interest.

Several years before, a friend of Niskanen's in southwestern Oregon had approached Bill to borrow some money to start a lumbering business. Niskanen gave him the money and only wanted a note as collateral. The man, however, had insisted Niskanen take stock in the venture in addition. Just before the final payment on PT, Niskanen's friend sold his lumber mill to Boise Cascade and when that company bought out Bill's stock, the proceeds were more than enough and Bill was able to make the final payment and keep PT.

In 1964, Pacific Trailways' drivers struck. Thirty days after they resumed service, Greyhound filed notice with PT that they intended to break the pool for the Spokane-San Francisco thru bus. The effect on PT's north-south route from The Dalles to Klamath Falls was immediate and devastating. Ridership went to near zero on the one round trip per day PT kept running. To make matters worse, Greyhound altered their scheduling so that if PT made a good connection with the Greyhound bus from Spokane at The Dalles, then they missed the connection at Klamath Falls for California or vice versa in both directions, and there started the landmark case which would prove to be the largest antitrust suit in bus industry history, and one that would only end in front of the U. S. Supreme Court.

To set the stage, in the late 40's Greyhound had applied to purchase many Bus lines in the northwest and west, among them, North Coast Lines, Washington Motor Coach, Union Pacific Stages, O.C.& N. Stages and Inland Empire Lines. In each preceding, PT had protested the purchase on the basis that it would materially change the competitive situation and encircle PT. Greyhound's response had been uniform, in each ICC hearing, they had solemnly promised and declared that the competitive situation would NEVER change. PT quickly discovered that, given the chance, Greyhound agents were intentionally failing to quote PT's service, even when using PT was faster, cheaper, or more convenient than Greyhound's service or routings. The staff in Bend spent a good part of the next ten years phone checking, spooking terminals, and documenting what was happening to them. This was not to win, but merely to gather enough evidence to go before a Federal judge and get a discovery order for Greyhound's files to gather hard evidence. The judge granted PT's request and PT and its attorneys went into Greyhound's offices in San Francisco and Chicago and copied over 10,000 documents. What they found were the most incriminating documents you could imagine, of the ilk... "we're going to get that s-o-b," "we're going to run him out of business," etc. When PT's lawyers went to court to prove treble damages, the kitchen door swung open and there was Greyhound, for all to see, with their hands in the cookie jar up to the arm pits. This is not to say that other companies hadn't engaged in the same behavior, indeed they had, but Greyhound just happened to be the one who was caught, convicted by their own detailed records and written memos, all carefully preserved and saved. When the jury found for PT initially, the judge allowed the attorneys to question the jury. Greyhound's attorneys asked, "Madam forewoman, what on earth caused you to return a verdict like this?"

She looked at him calmly and said, "Well, the Judge told us to decide the case on the basis of the evidence and you didn't present any!" At that time, the amount of the award had to be set aside, pending resolution of the appeals. It ended many years later at the Supreme Court, who indicated that they saw no reason to reverse the lower court's decision. At that time, all the monies plus accumulated interest paid directly Niskanen. The sum came to more than $18 million.

The suit by PT was not Greyhound's only trouble. At the same time as the damages suit, The Federal Department of Justice filed anti-trust action against them and the ICC reopened every one of the merger hearings and made Greyhound reprove public convenience and necessity as if the hearings had never been held.

A Federal Court judge also set down basic rules of competitive compliance to remedy the antitrust situation. Greyhound still wasn't taking things seriously and a year later, PT's attorneys went back to the Court and demonstrated flagrant non-compliance with the Judge's orders. At that time, senior management at Greyhound were threatened with hard jail time in a Federal Prison and they finally saw that this was serious and got religion, as they say.

William Niskanen didn't live long after the suit was finally decided in his favor. If running PT had been the struggle, then the victory over Greyhound was his life's reward. After his death in around 1980, his heirs, sons William Jr., David and Paul, sold the company to Baldwin United, whose chief business was building pianos and organs and whose main interest was not in running a bus line but in PT's assets and complete lack of debt. Baldwin, who was in deep financial trouble was looking for a company to raid and set about plundering PT. When they fell behind paying off the highly leveraged debt to the Niskanen boys, William Jr., who was a law professor at U.C. Berkeley led the trio in filing suit to stop Baldwin from stealing all the assets while they were still owed money. The legal action pushed Baldwin over the edge into bankruptcy.

In 1984, the Mount Hood rights were sold as an asset in Baldwin's bankruptcy to a consortium of three bus companies who formed a company named S.B. & E. Transportation. The three principles were Sun Valley Stages of Twin Falls, Boise School Bus Co, and Evergreen Stage Lines at Portland (not to be confused with Evergreen Trails at Seattle, a different company). Essentially they carved PT up, with Sun Valley responsible for Salt Lake-Boise, Boise School Bus responsible for Boise to Bend, and Evergreen taking everything west of Bend. In the case of S.B. & E., having was not nearly as nice and wanting and their dream quickly turned into a nightmare of Biblical proportions, complicated by the fact that the principles knew absolutely nothing about running a scheduled intercity bus company, especially one of PT's size. At this point Trailways Inc. Was having deep problems and was in no shape to provide much help and after Baldwin, PT was in foul shape. The new owners were not in a position to pour major money into bringing PT back, nor were they inclined to do so.

The end came quietly at the end of June, 1988, with Greyhound taking over what was left. Greyhound took no assets other than the rights and the three principles divided up the remaining assets. Greyhound continues to operate the north-south short cut, and the service west of Bend, but after Greyhound's strike in 1989, service east from Bend to Boise was never reinstated. Greyhound had finally managed to solve their problem and now was in complete compliance with the court's orders.


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Installment Twenty Eight

Carolina Trailways

Red Star Motor Coaches

Norfolk Southern Bus Corp.

Seashore Transportation Co.  

  In the last twenty years, Carolina Trailways has occupied the conspicuous position of being the second largest member, albeit a distant second, of the Trailways association, following Continental Trailways and which then later became Trailways, Inc. Today, it is the largest member, even though its ownership rests with Greyhound. Yet few people are aware of its growth and ownership changes over the years and the "mirror" company that began as a result of it in its early days. It just seems like it's always just been "Carolina" down in Raleigh.

Carolina Coach Co. Was incorporated on November 25, 1925, not a legal change for an existing bus company or to start a new bus route, but to consolidate two regional bus companies operated by W. T. Thorpe of Raleigh and B. A. Page, Jr. of Aberdeen (40 miles west of Fayetteville, the other side of Ft. Bragg). The major part of the financing of the deal was provided by the Baltimore investment banking firm of Hambleton & Co., whose treasurer, Harry H. Jenkins, was Carolina's third incorporator. The financing was necessary to provide capital for Carolina's future growth and expansion.

And grow they did. Five other bus companies were purchased at the company's outset. Three of them, Carolina Motor Coach, Safety, Coach Lines and Southern Transit competed with the new Carolina for passengers between Raleigh and Greensboro. Golden Star Bus Lines operating between Raleigh and Rocky Mount was the fourth and the fifth was Safety Transit Lines operating routes from Raleigh to Zebulon and Wilson, Raleigh to Fayetteville and Fayetteville to Smithfield, which Carolina shortly dropped.

Two other men, brothers M. H. And Al Kramer were also connected with the new company at the beginning, though not principles. The Kramer brothers stayed with the fledgling Carolina Coach Co. for two years. Apparently it dawned on them that they could do the same thing, starting a bus company themselves, and in 1927 they left Carolina and journeyed west. They settled in Knoxville, in east Tennessee and in 1928 with O. B. Baskett, formed "Tennessee" Coach Co,, putting together Baskett's bus line with its route from Knoxville to Johnson City with Southern Motor Coach's route to Chattanooga. Obviously this concept that "Carolina" and then "Tennessee" followed, worked, because both companies thrived and prospered.

In 1926 a short spur line was acquired from Durham to Chapel Hill and then extended to the nearby town of Carrboro. 1927 saw Carolina obtain permits to operate from Raleigh to Charlotte via Durham, Greensboro and High Point. They also purchased a partial interest in Charlotte-Raleigh Bus Lines whose authority Carolina had leased and operated almost from its inception. Carolina Coach now served every large and important metro area in North Carolina.

Expansion eastward from Rocky Mount to Tarboro came in 1927 followed in 1928 by new routes northward from Williamston to Ahoskie and Vinton, four miles from the NC-VA state line, where they connected with Norfolk Transit Co., and inaugurated through bus service with that company from Raleigh to Norfolk. Later that year, Carolina Coach purchased Norfolk Transit and thus operated to Norfolk on its own rights.

Purchase of Southern Coach Co. In early 1929, operating between Greensboro, Salisbury and Charlotte, eliminated competition on that route.

A company called Dixie Motor Transport was had a route from Charlotte to Raleigh via Sanford and Albemarle, that closely followed the Southern Railroad's tracks. Queen City Coach Co. Fed this route of Dixie's their traffic destined to Raleigh. In 1933, Dixie sold out to Charlotte-Raleigh Bus Lines. Carolina still had the partial interest in that company purchased five years earlier. Charlotte-Raleigh Bus Line turned the old Dixie route to Queen City Coach Co, of Charlotte.

The Love family of Queen City had formed a new company named Old South Lines. Old South operated a Charlotte-Atlanta route and Queen City assigned the newly acquired Charlotte-Albemarle-Raleigh route to Old South as well. The Depression brought hard times though, and the Loves decided to concentrate on their strongest and best routes and so an agreement was reached with Carolina Coach in 1933, for Carolina to take over the Charlotte-Albemarle-Raleigh route.

Short Line System and Great Eastern - During this time, Carolina, Virginia Stage Lines, the Great Eastern System Adirondack, Hudson Transit and others had been members of and partnered with Vanderbilt's Short Line System, although Carolina and Virginia's participation was limited to advertising and timetables. Great Eastern was the much larger company but was experiencing serious financial problems.

Carolina Coach had been advertising service from its territory using its own Norfolk gateway to travel onwards to Philadelphia, New York City and New England. Connections were made at Norfolk with Red Star Motor Coaches who ran up the Delmarva peninsula, but the trip involved a three hour ferry crossing on Chesapeake Bay by ferry.

Great Eastern's running time from Raleigh through Richmond to Washington and New York City was hours faster. Great Eastern became indebted to Carolina through non-payment for interline tickets and together with trying to satisfy its creditors, decided to concentrate on its best route segments. As its settlement, in December 1934, Carolina began operating Great Eastern's route from Raleigh to Richmond. Two weeks later, in January 1935, Carolina inaugurated an alternative route to Richmond. Great Eastern's financial troubles continued and Carolina continued operating the route with ICC regulation looming through the Motor Carrier Act in Congress, hoping that if Great Eastern collapsed, they would be able to keep the route.

In the mean time, in 1935, Carolina set up a new Virginia domiciled company, Carolina-Virginia Coach Co. And purchased Virginia-Southern Lines which had run from Richmond to Rocky Mount since 1920.

Carolina's expansion continued with the purchase of A&C Bus Co. In 1937 giving Carolina local Salisbury-Kannapolis rights on their existing line into Charlotte. Additionally, the remaining portion of Charlotte-Raleigh Bus Co. Was acquired, and through the 100% owned Carolina-Virginia Coach Co, an option was exercised to purchase Safeway Coach Co. Who ran from Rocky Mount to Jacksonville through Kinston. Final approval of the sale by the ICC came in late 1939.

Though Vanderbilt's Short Line System broke apart in 1936, in large part due to the financial collapse of Great Eastern and Greyhound's purchase of Colonial Stages. On their own though, Carolina Coach and Virginia had built up substantial interline traffic through the Richmond gateway to Washington. In 1939, the two companies began through service from Raleigh to Washington, using ACF buses and operating five round trips each day.

Trailways - In 1938, Carolina's interline partner, Virginia Stage Lines joined the two year old Trailways association and on May 1, 1940, Carolina Coach joined Trailways too. Traffic moving beyond Washington was being fed to Short Line of Pennsylvania to continue northward on the route to New York City via Baltimore and Philadelphia. Short Line withdrew from the route and a new company was formed, Safeway Trails, Inc. To take it's place. Safeway joined Trailways in 1938 and it's majority owner eventually came to be Claude Jessup of Virginia Stage Lines, with Marvin Walsh, Safeway's manager, and two Washington attorneys in 1943. Asleton's Blueway Lines had joined Trailways in 1937, so by the early 40's, Carolina in the association and Queen City Coach Co. joining, you could ride Trailways red and cream buses from Boston to Fayetteville and beyond into South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

1940 also saw the acquisition of Sutherland Brothers Bus Line, in eastern North Carolina. This formed a comprehensive network of service in eastern North Carolina when it was combined with the newly acquired authority f Virginia-Carolina to Jacksonville.

The name of Virginia-Carolina was changed in 1941 to Carolina Coach Co. of Virginia. The separate corporate structure in Virginia was necessary because the State of Virginia would only allow corporations domiciled in Virginia to hold Virginia intrastate rights. In 1942, the routes south of Rocky Mount were transferred to Carolina Coach and the routes to Richmond and Norfolk were transferred to the Virginia corporation.

In the early 40's, it was necessary to cross Hampton Roads by ferry, a trip that now uses a series of tunnels. Because of this, most service stayed south of the James River. Richmond Greyhound (RF&P Railroad) owned rights on the primary road with Peninsula Transit operating the secondary routes. Richmond Greyhound applied to buy Peninsula Transit in Corp. In 1937, but the ICC did not approve the sale until 1941, and then with the provision that Peninsula had to relinquish their authority from Richmond to Norfolk through Petersburg and Smithfield. Both Virginia Stage Lines and Carolina applied for the route. Over the objections of Virginia Stage Lines, the route was awarded to Carolina Coach in 1942.

The J. C. Gilley & Son Bus Line was purchased in 1943 giving Carolina two new routes, Greensboro-Danville and Burlington-Martinsville. Both routes intersected in Leakesville which is now known as Eden, NC. These routes enabled Carolina to link up with Virginia Trailways' route terminating in Danville from Washington.

During the war, Carolina and Queen City began through service from Raleigh to Asheville via Greensboro, Salisbury, and Hickory. Another important through service agreement during the war was with Seashore Transportation, allowing Carolina's buses to serve Camp LeJeune and Camp Davis.

In March 1951, the former operations radiating from Leakesville were taken over by one of Carolina's drivers, and the resulting Safety Transit Lines was operated for years by the Gauldin family. The North Carolina and Virginia corporations were combined in 1950, and a new Virginia domiciled Carolina Coach Co. Was formed.

Trailways' Thru Service - No change bus service, or "Thru-Liners," was a Trailways' hallmark. After WWII, the Dixieland Route began with thru service from Raleigh to Dallas with Carolina participating from Raleigh to Fayetteville. Other thru bus arrangements included Charlotte-New York City, Raleigh-Boston, Norfolk-Staunton, Washington-Camp LeJeune, Washington-Fayetteville, Raleigh-Tampa, Norfolk-Pittsburgh, New York City-Asheville.

Red Star Motor Coaches - On July 23, 1952, Carolina Coach acquired Red Star Motor Coaches of Salisbury, MD. Red Star Motor Coaches dated from 1926 and served the eastern shore of Maryland and was the dominant carrier between Philadelphia and Norfolk on the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula. They also ran from Baltimore to the eastern shore and had thru service from Washington to the eastern shore with the Washington-Annapolis portion operated by Capitol Greyhound. After the sale to Carolina, this thru bus arrangement with Greyhound continued until Greyhound finally requested that Carolina apply for rights into Washington when their commuter service to Annapolis ended. At the time of the sale, 38 buses passed from Red Star to Carolina, mostly GM PDA-3702's and 3703's. In mid-April 1964, completion of the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel and the Norfolk Naval Operating Base made the route from Norfolk to Philadelphia made service on the former Red Star main line Carolina's best revenue producer with revenue of some trips in excess of $4.00 per bus mile. Late night companion departures from Norfolk (and the north ends as well) saw schedules to both Philadelphia and New York (with Safeway Trailways operating State Road to New York City) and included assigned bid doubles that carried the same revenue figures. Overhead traffic originating in Wilmington and Camp LeJeune running through the Norfolk gateway was icing on the cake.

Seashore Transportation Co. - In the early 80's, North American Philips incorporated STC Development Corp. And purchased Seashore Transportation Co, from the Trust representing the heirs of the West estate. Begun in 1925 by James West as the Seashore Transportation Co., operating a route from Goldsboro to Kinston, New Bern and Morehead City, NC Within a year he purchased the bus operations and franchise of the Horton Brothers from Washington, NC through Jacksonville to Wilmington, NC. These two routes formed the nucleus for a highly successful bus line through the years It can br said that Seashore was the dominant carrier in eastern and coastal North Carolina and its red and green stripped buses with the North Carolina flag became common sights both in their service area and along the eastern seaboard.

West's company at its zenith in 1947 employed 205 people and operated 125 buses. When James West died in 1946, he was experimenting with steam powered buses and drove a steam powered automobile that operated more efficiently than other cars of the period. West was an innovative thinker, creative and a leader in North Carolina transportation.

In the early 50's Seashore began to participate in thru bus arrangements with Trailways carriers from Wilmington and Camp Le Jeune to New York City and Camp LeJeune and Cherry Point to Washington, DC. A route extension brought Seashore's buses into Raleigh and for a time they also operated interchange pool service with Greyhound that went on to Winston-Salem, Charleston and Cincinnati.

Seashore joined Trailways in 1981 after years of being part of Trailways thru bus pools as an independent. For years Seashore did a huge business out of Camp LeJeune and Cherry Point Marine Air Wing plus being part of the migration of blacks from the Carolinas to the Northeast corridor cities.

For reasons unknown, within a year and a half of the purchase, Carolina's management had effectively destroyed the company, ending it's lucrative charter business, folding the few remaining routes into Carolina and Seashore disappeared as a bus company, only to exist as STC Development Co., a holding company which owned the former Seashore buses and leased them to Carolina.

Norfolk Southern Bus Corp. - The bus company was incorporated in 1926 as a subsidiary of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, a local short line railroad which had no affiliation with what we now know as the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The modern Norfolk Southern came into being when the Southern Railroad and the Norfolk & Western merged in the early 1980's.

The main thrust of the bus operation was regional commuter service between Norfolk and Virginia Beach and Little Cree Fort Story and Cape Henry. They also operated south from Norfolk to Washington, NC, where they connected with Carolina Trailways. Carolina Trailways purchased Norfolk Southern Bus Corp. from the railroad in February 1954. Included with the sale 31 buses, The intercity equipment consisted of ACF IC-41's and GM PDA-3703's, six city buses and ten relatively new ACF C-44 suburbans which ran the Virginia Beach Line. These were reassigned to Williamsburg tours and new GM TDH-4515 suburbans took their place. Prior to the sale, some Greyhound trips in bound to Norfolk had operated on to Virginia Beach over the Norfolk Southern rights. With the sale, this thru bus service with Greyhound ceased, all the Beach buses do go by the Greyhound station for passengers.

Ownership changes - In the mid 1920's, Southern Gas & Power purchased part ownership in Carolina Coach Co., and quickly bought out the other principles. This was the company providing electric and gas service in Raleigh. Over the years, this company came to be known as Central Public Utilities Corp. In 1959, North American Philips (Norelco razors, etc.),a company owned by the Dutch government electronics giant Philips N.V. of Eindhoven, purchased Central Public Utility Corp. Which included Carolina Coach Co. Philips was not "in love" with being in the bus business, it came with the Central Utility package. It made a profit and Philips didn't bother Carolina's management, however, it was for sale, if you met Philip's asking price. In the mid-80's, Philips began to sense a shift and basic change in the bus business and actively began to shop the company to large investors. The asking price was more than Trailways, Inc. wanted to pay and in the early 80's they were already selling assets and converting them to operating capital.

In 1985, two investors, Nicholas Wallner and Peter Redfield from Incline Village, NV, concluded a leveraged buy out agreement with Philips for Carolina Coach. Essentially, what it cost them to get in was about $5,000 each, more or less the cost of setting up a North Carolina Corporation, Carolina Associates, Inc., and their legal bills. The actual purchase price, in excess of $25 million was all "on the cuff."

Wallner and Redfield were not interested in owning and operating a bus company but were what is referred to as corporate raiders. To immediately pay down as much of the leveraged debt as possible, they sold off all of Carolina's recent model MC-8's and MC-9's plus four new Model 10 Eagles. In addition the garage in Norfolk was sold, along with the brand new terminal in Raleigh and the Norfolk Terminal. Trying to operate the company with Carolina's aging fleet of Model 05 Eagles was a disaster of Biblical proportions and Greyhound finally forced them to lease some Greyhound 1978 MC-8's that were run in Greyhound red, white and blue with Carolina Trailways titles.

After the start up of Coach USA and their purchase of scheduled carriers such as Kerrville Bus Co., Greyhound required all carriers in pool service agreements to sign a right of first refusal agreement. In 1997, Carolina notified Greyhound of Coach USA's pending offer and Greyhound was forced to purchase Carolina to keep Coach USA out. Greyhound had previously looked twice at buying Carolina and decided against it.

Wallner and Redfield owned Carolina for 12 years. During this period, Carolina paid all their legal bills and expenses plus $500,000 a year as a "management fee." Do the math, and add in what Greyhound had to pay them to buy Carolina and better Coach USA's offer. Not at all bad for a $10,000 investment.

Today Carolina Coach Co. Exists as a subsidiary of Greyhound and a member of the Trailways association.


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