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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Thomas Outlaw, June 5, 1980. Interview H-0277. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Post-WWII boom in the trucking industry

Outlaw describes the World War II-era growth in the trucking industry in this selection, thriving on the increased need to transport raw materials, including textiles.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Thomas Outlaw, June 5, 1980. Interview H-0277. 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

JOHN THOMAS OUTLAW:
By that time, I believe [Governor] Aycock had gotten a bond issue through for the highway system for $100 million. And then shortly after that is when they paved a road to each of the county seats. I think that's the reason why you see that jump from 1920 to 1925.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And the real significant one, too—I guess this was when trucks were just beginning to get started—between 1915 and 1920.
JOHN THOMAS OUTLAW:
That's right. A person was more or less buying a truck just to haul freight around town, just purely within the city itself, or town.
ALLEN TULLOS:
They'd take something from a warehouse to a railroad line or to a store?
JOHN THOMAS OUTLAW:
Correct. Then from 1940, from 87,000 up to 100,000, that's quite evident the War was responsible for that.
ALLEN TULLOS:
There was that big leap between '45 and '50, kind of post-War, where the number of trucks again doubled.
JOHN THOMAS OUTLAW:
That's right. By that time industry began to use the truck, as I said, to feed the raw material in and move the finished product out. Like North Carolina being a textile state, the cotton was moved into the processing plants and made into either fabrics or thread, and then the fabrics were moved to New York, and then, after being manufactured into clothes, they were moved back to North Carolina.
ALLEN TULLOS:
When do you think it was that the textile companies themselves began to buy their own trucks? Some of them have their own truck lines.
JOHN THOMAS OUTLAW:
That has been so gradual that I don't think you could even stipulate a time. Each company had its own way of just gradually getting into it, but I would say from about 1945 the textile companies began to use their own trucks. But they have always used for-hire trucks, too, to supplement their fleets. The reason is that the textile people would naturally move freight where it was most beneficial to them, and a lot of times it was from warehouse to warehouse. And they could get a two-way haul out of it back and forth. But then when you began to cover like the state of North Carolina, they couldn't have very well afforded to have a truck to just run making a distribution from one point to the other. And the for-hire industry would take the freight and does today and make distribution of it to all parts of the state.