The Traveler
The Newsletter of the Lincoln Highway Association - California Chapter

Fall 2001


Highway Nostalgia

Manufacturing Trucks Adjacent to the Lincoln Highway:
Fageol Truck and Coach Company
Oakland, California, 1916-1938

by Wes Hammond

At the time the Lincoln Highway was completed in 1916, existing streets were used through Oakland. Foothill Boulevard was one of the streets that carried the new transcontinental highway. In this same year, a new truck manufacturing company began business at a location on Foothill Boulevard at the cross streets of 107th Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. This new company, the Fageol Truck and Coach Company, built trucks that received much praise from individuals and companies that owned them. They were the "Peterbilt" of their time, but I'm getting ahead of the story.

These trucks were very sturdy, dependable, and easily recognized. The name "Fageol" was embossed in large letters on the radiator shell; a series of louvered vents on top of the engine hood made them quite distinctive. During the 1920s and 1930s, they offered three different models for the customer. These had the following names and load rating: The Cub, one and half tons; the Bear, two tons; and the Flyer, three tons. These trucks were very popular with farmers, trucking companies, and in logging operations. In the last years of operation, the Fageol Truck Company gave their largest models a new look. An aluminum grill was added to the front of the radiator. A cab with smooth rounded corners was also used, but they kept the louvered hood vents. This gave the truck a definite "rakish" look.

Several large trucking companies of the western states used Fageol trucks. Some of these were Consolidated Freight Lines (later Consolidated Freightways), Portland-Pendleton Motor Transport, Conyes Freight Lines, Utah-California Motor Lines, Valley Motor Lines, Garrett Freight Lines, and Union Fast Freight Lines.

The Fageol name was also very popular with bus companies. These bus lines purchased a Fageol truck chassis and engine with a bus body. I believe it was also possible to purchase just the chassis and engine and have the bus body installed by another builder. Fageol used the slogan "Safety Coach" for their bus models, and they were used in many parts of the United States. The Peerless Stages Company of Oakland, California operated a bus line between Oakland and Santa Cruz, via San Jose. During the 1930s, a large percentage of their buses were Fageols. In late 1947, a few of the Fageols were still being used as extra buses and for backup service.

Despite the popularity of the Fageol truck, they could not overcome the financial problems caused by the Great Depression. They were forced to close production in 1938, and the business was then purchased by a man named Peterman. He had made his fortune in the logging industry using Fageol trucks. However, his first truck came off the assembly line in 1939 and he named these new trucks "Peterbilt" -- I think you know the rest of the story! Peterbilt trucks continued to be built at the Oaldand facility until the 1960s, when production was moved to a new factory in Newark, California. So ended an era of truck manufacturing alongside the Lincoln Highway.

  [Postcard of 1920s Fageol truck]
This restored Fageol truck of the early 1920s is typical of the type of truck built at the Fageol manufacturing plant in Oakland. [Click to enlarge image]

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