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Armour Refrigerator Line

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Title: Armour Refrigerator Line  
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Language: English
Subject: Armour Yard, Philip Danforth Armour, Merchants Despatch, Hormel
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Armour Refrigerator Line

A Pullman-built "shorty" reefer bearing the Armour Packing Co. · Kansas City logo, circa 1885. The name of the "patentee" was displayed on the car's exterior, a practice intended to "...impress the shipper and intimidate the competition..."
A refrigerator car of the Armour Refrigerator Line (ARL), circa 1917.

The Armour Refrigerator Line (ARL, one of the Armour Car Lines) was a private refrigerator car line established in 1883 by Chicago meat packer Philip Armour, the founder of Armour and Company.

To get his products to market, Armour followed the lead of rivals Gustavus Swift when he established the Armour Refrigerator Line in 1883. Armour's endeavor soon became the largest private refrigerator car fleet in America. By 1900, the company listed over 12,000 units on its roster (one-third of all the privately owned cars in the country), all built in Armour's own car plant.

One of the Armour Car Lines' subsidiaries was dedicated to produce hauling. In 1919 the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company's sale for anti-trust reasons. On March 18 of the following year the new entity, to be known as Fruit Growers Express (FGE), would take with it 4,280 pieces of rolling stock, repairs shops at Alexandria, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, and numerous ice plants and other facilities scattered throughout the East Coast.

The General American Transportation Corporation assumed ownership of the line in 1932.

Armour Car Lines Roster, 1900–1960[1]
Year   1900   1910   1920   1930   1940   1950   1960  
Fleet size   12,000   —   5,088   5,681   5,412   4,198   1,974  


  1. ^ The Great Yellow Fleet, p. 16.

External links

  • The Armour and Company Icehouse article at the Nebraska State Historical Society official website.
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