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Jones Truck Lines was a catalyst for change and growth in Springdale (Washington County). Established in 1918 by businessman Harvey Jones, the company made Springdale a regional center for the transportation of goods.
In 1918, Harvey Jones began hauling dry freight for individuals and businesses. Originally, he hauled hardware and groceries from Springdale to Rogers (Benton County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) with two mules and a wagon. Local business owners quickly discovered that they could place an order one day and have it delivered the next.
Jones sold his mules and wagon in 1919 and bought his first truck. When the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) went on strike in 1920, Jones began hauling freight between Seligman, Missouri, and Eureka Springs (Carroll County)—a route that would have been served by the railroad.
Jones added more and more trucks between 1922 and 1928 and named his freight service Jones Transportation Company. In addition to freight, he hauled strawberries, grapes, and apples to Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City, Kansas, as well as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. By 1932, the service area was growing, and the company’s name was changed to Jones Truck Lines in 1933. A new terminal was built in Springdale. Additional terminals were established in Fort Smith (Sebastian County); Springfield, Missouri; and Joplin, Missouri.
In 1936, Jones Truck Lines bought twelve new International trucks, bringing the total number of units to thirty. The main business at this time was transporting meat from Swift & Company in Kansas City to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith, Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), El Dorado (Union County), and Oklahoma City; the company loaded three to fifteen trailers per day from Swift & Company. Between 1941 and 1947, Jones Truck Lines opened routes into St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee. While business slowed during wartime, the company’s resources were dedicated to delivering supplies to help the country’s war efforts.
In 1948, Jones Truck Lines acquired Breeding Motor Freight Line, which put the company into Oklahoma City, Muskogee, Henryetta, and Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Jones Truck Lines had become the largest privately owned carrier in the country. In 1951, Jones Truck Lines purchased two routes: one from Keystone Freight Lines through Oklahoma and Texas and an Oklahoma route into northeast Arkansas.
By 1954, Jones Truck Lines had covered a total of 9 million miles and, by 1957, had purchased the Dallas–Fort Worth Express routes to Wichita from Yellow Transit. A new corporate office was built in Springdale. In 1960, Jones Truck Lines had purchased Capitol Truck Line, which opened service into the Mississippi Delta area. The company employed more than 700 people at this time. In 1963, Jones Truck Lines had twenty-one terminals in eight states; five years later, travel exceeded 50,000 miles per day, and Jones employees numbered over 1,000. By 1979, additional routes had been purchased to Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; and Birmingham, Alabama. Jones Truck Lines had 2,300 employees and did $80 million worth of business that year.
In 1980, however, due to deteriorating health, Harvey Jones sold Jones Truck Lines, Inc., to Sun Carriers. The original terminal property in Springdale is now the home of the Jones Center, an educational and recreational facility.
For additional information:“The Jones Legacy.” The Jones Center. http://www.thejonescenter.org/the-jones-legacy/ (accessed August 22, 2011).
Springdale Exhibit. Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Springdale, Arkansas.
Kara NewThe Jones Center
Last Updated 8/26/2011
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