American West •  Biography and History

$30.00 paperback
978-0-8263-3079-6

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Ten Turtles to Tucumcari: A Personal History of the Railway Express Agency


Klink Garrett
Toby Smith

From its founding in 1929, Railway Express Agency dominated the transportation industry until the 1960s. In return for a monopoly on passenger train service, the express company was obligated to accept any and all shipments within the United States. REA handled carloads of cattle, race horses, and fruits and vegetables. Radioactive material was moved on regular schedules for the Atomic Energy Commission. When companies or individuals wanted to ship something (even ten turtles) to any place in the world (even Tucumcari, New Mexico), they called REA. The history of REA coincides with the career of Klink Garrett, who began as a temporary employee in Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1934 and stayed with REA until 1973, by which time he was a senior executive and member of the company's board of directors.
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Garrett spent the first half of his tenure working in small offices, usually one-man operations, in the West. In 1956 he was promoted to a national sales position with offices in both New York City and Washington, D.C. His main job was to coordinate the transportation needs of the Defense Department and the emerging nuclear industry via REA. His entrepreneurial ethic - a combination of extraordinary customer service and good old-fashioned ingenuity - gave him lots of good stories to tell, many of which are related here. His last fifteen years at REA were the years of the company's decline and the decline of the nation's railroads; by 1976 the company was bankrupt and out of business.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Toby Smith, an award-winning journalist and author of seven books, is a long-time resident of Albuquerque.

ACCLAIM

"There are a few scholarly and 'official' books about REA, but this is a story about people. . . . Garrett walks us through REA's fascinating history, sings the company's values and finally, with an insider's special relevance, tells the story of its ignominious demise as employees and executives put greed ahead of character and old-fashioned ideals of honest service. REA was important to our lives in the 20th century, and this book is an important footnote of America's history."

--

The Santa Fe New Mexican



"This book is an enjoyable overview of both the business and a career with REA, written by a man who took great pride in his chosen life's work."

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Montana Magazine



"This book will make you proud, as well as a bit nostalgic for an era that is gone but hopefully not forgotten, not quite yet."

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Southwest BookViews



"You will find this book well worth the reading."

--

Spencer Wilson, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission



"Readers will enjoy fascinating stories while being exposed, sublty, to key issues in transport history."

--

The Journal of Transport History




6 x 8.5 in. 182 pages 18 halftones