Greyhound Bus Company

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Winning Nomination

"Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us."

From its humble beginnings in northern Minnesota, Greyhound has grown into the largest intra-city carrier of passengers on America's highways.

In 1914, Carl Eric Wickman, a Swedish immigrant, began transporting miners from Hibbing, Minnesota, to Alice, Minnesota, for 25 cents round trip. In 1926 Wickman joined forces with Ralph Bogan and began running a transit service from Hibbing to Duluth under the company name of Mesaba Transportation. In 1926, Wickman and Orville Caesar brought together their companies to form the Motor Transit Company, which four years later was renamed the Greyhound Corporation.

Greyhound had significant impacts on the American way of life by opening its own chain of restaurants, developing new buses, and launching national advertising campaigns. Greyhound became the official transportation carrier of the world's fair in Chicago in 1933 and was the major carrier of troops heading to the east and west coasts during World War II.

One of the most significant impacts of Greyhound came during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In 1961, America was in the midst of a struggle to end segregation throughout the south. A group of civil-rights activists known as "Freedom Riders" began a journey that was to take them from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans. Riding on Greyhound buses, the people on board were integrated among the seats, breaking from southern tradition that black Americans sit towards the rear and not among the white Americans. The buses that Greyhound sent were fire-bombed and the passengers were beaten and arrested. U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy pressured Greyhound to continue to carry the Freedom Riders. Although the Freedom Riders never reached their destination in New Orleans due to arrest, the contribution they made to the desegregation movement helped pass a federal law that outlawed segregation in interstate bus travel.

Today, Greyhound has expanded to include travel to Mexico. This little company that started in Hibbing, Minnesota, transporting miners, has led to changes in America's landscape.
~Chris Lepper, Somerset, WI

Runner-up Nominations

It made it easy to travel at low cost.
~Gary Reimann, Ramsey, MN



(founded in Hibbing, 1914)

The world's largest intercity passenger carrier

It all started when Hibbing's Carl Eric Wickman and Andrew Anderson pooled their resources and bought a Hupmobile, hoping to sell it at a profit. When that plan failed, they decided to run the car as a "jitney," a passenger car used to shuttle folks between towns. The first route of Wickman and Anderson and their partner, C. A. A. Heed, was between Hibbing and Alice, another iron-mining town. They charged fifteen cents a trip; round-trip fare was a quarter.

Business was brisk, and soon the company began acquiring buses, running on fixed schedules, and merging with other jitney companies, changing names many times in the process. By 1922, Wickman had relocated to Duluth; he soon bought a number of sleek, gray buses, made in Michigan and nicknamed "greyhounds." Eight years and several mergers later, Wickman's coast-to-coast operation was renamed the Greyhound Corporation, with a running dog as its logo.

Greyhound stayed afloat during the Depression by showing the same entrepreneurial spirit that had marked its early days. In 1933, for example, the company became the official transportation carrier of the Century of Progress, held in Chicago. The company gambled on the success of the fair, reserving 2,000 hotel rooms and launching a campaign offering lodging and transportation to the fair on a single ticket. The promotion earned more than $500,000.

Over the years, Greyhound marked many more milestones, becoming the primary stateside carrier of troops during World War II, setting industry standards by being the first carrier to install such niceties as air conditioning and lavatories in its buses, and standing firm against racial discrimination among its workers and its riders.

In 1961, a group of activists known as the "Freedom Riders" boarded Greyhound and Trailway buses headed to southern states to protest state-sponsored segregation in interstate transportation facilities. Buses were firebombed and protesters stormed terminals, but the company, backed by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, continued its course. Later that year, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed segregation in interstate bus travel.

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