In the "Railfan" community, a defunct railroad is typically referred to as a "Fallen Flag" - such as Southern, Rock Island, and ATSF. It is common for these railroads to have at least a couple preserved pieces of rolling stock (locos, freight cars, passenger cars, etc) as well as other things associated with these lines, such as stations, yards, and maintenance facilities. Also, many have museums and historical associations dedicated to preserving this history, and often times the history of these companies is very well documented.
However, the same cannot be said about trucking companies, by and large. Even the largest fallen flag carriers are poorly documented, if at all, with little or nothing preserved in the way of vehicles or facilities. There are a few that are exceptions, such as Consolidated Freightways, for example ... and Carolina Freight. Thankfully, Carolina Freight's hsitory has been preserved, with several trucks preserved, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the company, along with a decent amount (though not totally thorough) of historical documentation available.
I've had the opportunity to see several of the preserved vehicles, visit the museum, and tour the headquarters of their partial successor. They have a long and interesting history, with some unusual twists, and today I'll share that history with you!
Carolina Freight's history begins with a different name - Beam Trucking Company, founded by Charles Grier Beam in 1932, in Cherryville, NC.
Mr. Beam started with a single truck; a 1931 Chevrolet, and he used this truck to haul coal for Lincoln County (NC) schools, which was one of, if not the, first jobs he would be entrusted with. Also during these early years, he would haul seasonal fruit from Florida.
For his second truck he would have a bit of help from a larger company, Cross Cotton Mills of Marion, NC. In exchange for Cross helping him purchase this second unit, he would regularly haul loads for them; the arrangement was that Mr. Beam would haul Cross yarn to textile mills in New England, and he could use the truck to haul return loads. These New England trips would pay around $13-$15, and take about a week.
Beam Trucking proved successful, enough so that in the mid-to-late 30's Mr. Beam merged with another local company run by Mr. Cone Beam (no relation, as far as I could tell), and then bought out a third local company, Mauney Transfer. This merger and subsequent purchase would result in a new company name - Carolina Freight Carriers.
The company would be very successful and continue to grow, enough that an internal breakdown department was started in 1953. This would prove to be a great success itself, both for Carolina Freight and beyond...
In the 1960's CFC made a couple more considerable forward steps; one was a deal struck with Sea Highway Inc for access to Central America. Another was CFC's entry onto the Stock Exchange.
Expansion was the name of the game in the second half of the 20th century for CFC - in the 70's they would merge with Leonard Express to expand into the western US, and in the 80's they would invest in subsidiary companies in Canada and Mexico.
Also in the late 80's CFC would buy out GI Trucking, which expanded their reach into the western US even more.
During this time (80's or early 90's), CFC would pass into the portfolio of Worldway Inc.
Interlude 2~ In 1993 CFC's internal breakdown service would itself be incorporated as Carolina Breakdown Service, and begin offering their services to other fleets.
Worldway would in turn be bought out by ABF in 1995 for $72 million.
Interlude 3~ Carolina Breakdown Service would be purchased by Arc Best Corporation in 1995, and would undergo a name change to FleetNet America Inc in 1997.
ABF would quickly wind down operations for the Carolina Freight banner, and sold the assets of the CFC owned GI Trucking to Estes in 2005.
Final Interlude~ Fleetnet is still extant, and was purchased by Cox Automotive in 2023, but still continue doing what they were created to do in 1953 - provide a comprehensive breakdown service to fleets. They are still headquartered in Cherryville, as well.
And that is the history for Carolina Freight Carriers - not as detailed as I would really prefer, but still better than most similar companies.
As mentioned, there is a great museum, of course located in Cherryville!