Part of the challenge of transporting large numbers of vehicles is that they can get damaged in transit. That was a headache for sales executives such as John McGovern early in his 29-year career at Toyota.
"We had been shipping our cars to the Midwest through the Port of New Orleans, which was expensive and time consuming," says McGovern, 67. "We decided to bring them in through the port of Portland and to 'land bridge' them across to the Midwest. That's where the closed rail cars started in the industry with Union Pacific.
"The problem in transporting vehicles across the United States on open rail cars was the environmental fallouts that you would encounter. Kids would throw rocks at the cars from overpasses. Tramps would climb inside to gain protection from the weather, then leave all their junk in there. They were exposed to weather, sleet, hail.
"The Detroit manufacturers were taking all the products that they built and transporting them out West. But the rail cars were going back empty. So we put our cars on the closed rail cars going back East. It was beneficial for all parties."