J. Hardwood Cochrane

Inducted 1991

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1990

Founded the Overnite Transportation Company in 1935, building a two-vehicle operation into one of the largest independent trucking companies in the United States.

Established a system of truck terminals that made deliveries more efficient and which rapidly escalated the growth of cross-country trucking.

Harwood Cochrane’s success in the trucking industry didn’t happen “over night.” Cochrane was just 16 when his father died at the beginning of the Great Depression. Like many youngsters of the era, Cochrane quit school and went to work to help his family. After a series of odd jobs that included driving a horse-drawn milk wagon, Cochrane and his brother started their own trucking business. The brothers parted amicably by the time Harwood was 21, establishing separate trucking companies and routes to avoid competing with one another. Although railroads were then responsible for most long-distance hauling, a small market existed for next day delivery. Cochrane’s company, aptly named the Overnite Transport Company, began doing business in 1935 with two vehicles and two part time-drivers. As the Interstate Highway System developed, so did Overnite. Eventually, Cochrane developed a system of terminals to help Overnite Transport move freight efficiently and effectively everywhere in the United States. Cochrane retired in 1986 when the Overnight company was purchased by Union Pacific Corporation.

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