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Go Greyhound: Eleven Prewar Photos of the Bus Line

The Greyhound Line started back in 1914 when Carl E. Wickman began transporting miners in Minnesota from the town of Hibbing to Alice, for fifteen cents. The regional transit line expanded rapidly and by 1918, it was operating close to twenty buses. The vehicles were soon dubbed Greyhounds after the Fageol Safety Coach came into use in the early twenties because of their gray paint and sleek appearance. The running dog was first used as the company’s logo starting in 1929.

This set of a dozen images courtesy of Greyhound Lines is laid out as a photo essay showing prewar buses, personal, riders and a couple of the Company’s facilities which we found thanks to Isabelle Bracquemond.  If you can identify the makes and models of any of these machines, please send us a comment.

Historical old antique Greyhound Bus

  • The greyhound was first used as the company’s logo starting in 1929, note the Woodlite headlamp.

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Historical old antique Greyhound Bus

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Historical old antique Greyhound Bus

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35 responses to “Go Greyhound: Eleven Prewar Photos of the Bus Line

      • The driver’s leather gaiters are closed at the top with a strap and at the bottom with a flat metal hook joining the two sides together. No Velcro involved – I know, I’ve got a pair of them !
        They were a standard part of the uniform of chauffeurs and other professional drivers back in the day.

        • The driver in pic 7 doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and does nothing for the company’s attempted image of luxurious travel. The spats that lace on and a pair of broken down shoes that don’t match do not comprise a uniform.

          Were those fake spats to keep his pants legs from getting tangled in the brake or accelerator? …or to keep his pants from being spattered by roadside mud?

          Nope, think I just turn around and head back into the coffee shop above him and spend the wait time with those (neat and clean) ladies and their spotless workplace.

          The baked goods arrayed all along the counter look yummy and I’m guessing it must be near Easter as evidenced by the bunnie on the bottom shelf of the display case nearest us.

    • Those were not “spats” they were gaiters. Spats were worn over the shoe and under the trouser leg. Gaiters were worn over the trouser leg and extended farther up the leg.

      I’ve seen gaiters that fasten with leather straps, sometimes with metal buckles and even with zippers. I have a very old leather pair displayed in my house.

      The Greyhound photos are fabulous, of course.

      The official bio of Packard board member and West Coast Distributor, Earle C. Anthony states that he owned one of the original companies that was ancestral to Greyhound Bus Lines. At on time Anthony owned “Pickwick Stage Lines” and the bio states it was a predecessor to Greyhound. This never seems to be mentioned in Greyhound histories. Mr. Anthony took Packard trucks and had them converted into busses and established routes all over the extreme southwest in the early days of motoring.

  1. In the first several pictures the people are amazingly well-dressed. I know people dressed better then, but these folks look like they’re sailing on the Queen Mary.

    Also, the boy in the first picture is holding a ukulele. Reminds me of the old joke; What’s the difference between a ukulele and a trampoline? Usually you take your shoes off before you jump on a trampoline.

  2. Without calling out the “big guns” on buses ( Gene Herman), I’d say the top one, was either a Yellow Coach or a Fageol, spruced up a bit with the dog and headlights. The “Chicago-Detroit”, I’m pretty sure is a Mack. Next, not sure, the articulated one, clearly a pre-war White. The bus terminal is Manhattan, not sure of the others, but the motorcycle “Safety Patrol” were narcs that worked for the company, and would monitor drivers driving. Many big truck carriers did the same thing years ago in well marked cars, and might still today, only probably more discreet.

    • The picture of the White is from the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland. I doubt the cigarette-smoking guy, second picture after, was used in any Greyhound ad…

    • Nowadays the companies ‘keep an eye on’ drivers by GPS and an on-board cameras – at least on buses they do – and various forms of ‘telematics’ systems.

    • I’m pretty sure the coaches in the second and fourth photos are also Whites, Howard, although I can’t tell you what models. Shape of the top of the radiator shell on the second one is a big clue for me and, when enlarged, the badge on the fourth one reads “WMC” . I didn’t know Greyhound ever ran any Whites.

  3. The Greyhound bus station is across the street from the great Pennsylvania Railroad Station which was torn down. What a great loss to New York City. That building was magnificent.

  4. Interesting pictures, a window into those times. Note parked on the street in the view of the terminal adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station is a 1935 Lincoln Twelve Model K convertible sedan by LeBaron.

  5. As anyone who has ever taken Greyhound or Trailways can attest,
    you would be better off sticking your thumb out and hitching it
    God only knows the suffering those poor passengers endured back in the 20s and 30s.
    And Greyhound always chose to locate their terminals in the more lets say “interesting” parts of town.
    As in the infamous old Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

    • Hi Chris, I think everybody has a “silver dog” story. I have but one, and here it is. Back in the mid-70’s, I had a friend with his own truck, and we “2 manned” his KW W900 ( just like Snowman’s in Smokey and the Bandit) cross country. I had to get dropped off in Milwaukee for my grandmothers funeral, I said, “You keep trucking, I’ll take the bus, and meet you in Quad Cities on the rewind. I hopped a Greyhound, middle of winter, the bus was incredibly hot, which I suppose was better than being cold. All the passengers were yelling to the driver, “SHUT THE DANG HEAT OFF!!!” , but the driver just stared straight ahead. We finally got to Quad Cities all sweaty,,,at midnight it was 0 degrees, and the one horse bus station( like you say, in a seedy part of town) was closed. I found a tavern that was just closing, and called my buddy at the local 76, which is a whole ‘nother story. That was in the mid-70’s, and never took a Greyhound since.

  6. The first few have to be staged publicity pix. I’ll grant that people dressed up more for travel in those days, but no one was ever that pleasant and animated on a bus trip. I can tell who Greyhound was competing with in those days. I’ve seen similar DC3 stills.

    Not just a bus driver, but a spats wearing hot shot with wings on his cap. He just screams “leave the driving to us”. Voted driver most likely to get you there on time… regardless.

    Finally, I don’t see a gun on Motor Officer Fife’s belt there. Probably a smart corporate policy.

    Awesome images. I loved this series. Thanx!

  7. Also to note: That bus driving tough is wearing what my mom used to call a car coat. Not quite a jacket or sport coat, it was light, loose, and short to afford easy movement when behind the wheel. I had a denim one as a teen.

  8. The Liberty “Kings and Brothers” poster in the diner really puzzled me – thought it was some sort of fund raising poster for Britain war effort – but it is a magazine from May 1939. If we/they only knew what Edward was up to behind the scenes concurrent when that magazine came out and what was soon to come later that summer!
    ( search Ebay for Liberty Magazine, May 20, 1939 to see an example)

  9. Second photo down, those Woodlites headlights are an unusual accessory for a bus. Sought after today. Everybody remembers their first bus ride. My favorite spot was behind the driver so I could absorb his every move. Great feature.

  10. People, at least those with a job…..sure knew how to dress in those days
    These days…….well ah…
    The pictures are wonderful…..thanks for posting them!

  11. The Manhattan Terminal was on 34th Street near Macy’s Herald Square. As a kid growing up in New York I was there often to meet family coming from the West Coast. It was a fascinating place.

  12. Man, I can smell the hot rubber of the tires, the diesel fuel and exhaust, the wafts of conditioned air when the doors open, waiting for my harley parts from oklahoma city. Just a kid wantong his freedom. Like some of the folks on the greyhounds.

  13. Best seat for a kid back in the ’40’s was the ‘jump/co-pilot’ seat located at the left front corner (ahead of the door) on some coaches of that era. Right up there watching the road roll by! Cheers, Vin

  14. I met two young ladies On Vermont Transit back in the 1970’s riding to Stowe from Arkansas, where they were attendants on Arkansas Trailways and they said now they knew why their customers were so grumpy.

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