Terminal Trucking began operations in Indianapolis in 1931. The company experienced nominal success operating routes from the Midwest to the South, with routes as far south as Atlanta. In 1935, Ellis Trucking Company merged with Terminal Trucking, increasing the number of operating units from 6 to 70. The companies functioned together as affiliates throughout the next several years. During World War II, nearly 75% of the trucking firm’s freight was related to the war effort. After the war, a new terminal was constructed in Atlanta.
In 1952, despite the expansion, Terminal Trucking was beginning to experience financial trouble. That year, the company hired Joe Katz as president, who hired an entirely new management team. Katz bought new equipment and renovated Terminal Trucking’s facilities, and soon the worst of the financial troubles were behind the company. In 1956, gross income was reported at $7 million. The company operated between Chicago and Atlanta, as well as servicing Birmingham, Alabama; Waycross, Georgia; and cities in Florida. In addition to its midwestern terminals, additional terminals were in Birmingham, Waycross, Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida.
In 1957, the company’s already impressive fleet was expanded with an additional 700 pieces of equipment, which “wore” colorful green and gold stripes. The Indianapolis terminal, formerly the site of the headquarters, was expanded as well. By 1962, the efforts had paid off; reported income was more than $20 million. The company’s “Rocket Run,” a one-day haul between Chicago and Atlanta, was also started. The company’s success was defined also by successful acquisitions, including Pulaski Highway Express, C.A.B.Y. Transportation of Cleveland, and Trojan Freight Lines of Ohio.
The acquirer became the acquired in 1966, however. Terminal Trucking was purchased by American Commercial Barge Line of Indiana. This company had a history as a barge line and sought to enter the trucking industry with a company that complemented its barge offerings. The acquisition was delayed by Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) proceedings for several years, as many companies and railroads were worried about the precedent it would set for the future.
After the acquisition was finally approved by the ICC, American Commercial Barge Line only owned Terminal Trucking for three years before selling it to Texas Gas Transmission in 1969. In 1976, Texas Gas purchased the South Dakota-based All American Freight System and merged its operations with the operations of Terminal Trucking. The result was American Freight System. American Freight System operated until July 1988 when it declared bankruptcy.
In its prime, Terminal Trucking Co. operated a fleet of 1,400 units, covering a 10-state area passing freight between its 18 terminals.
To read more about American Freight System/American Carriers, read this article.