Ruggles Motor Truck Company was the most successful vehicle manufacturer in Saginaw. Frank W. Ruggles started the company in 1921 after managing the Republic Truck Co. in Alma for several years. He had originally purchased the old Union Park and surrounding property in what is now the Northmoor district in north Saginaw between State and Weiss street. Before he started building his plant, the Saginaw Shipbuilding company in Carrollton struck a deal with him to use the facility on Carrollton road near Zilwaukee. The shipyard did not have any contracts to build new ships, so they sold the factory to Mr Ruggles in exchange for $500,000 in stock of the newly formed company. It was an excellent site for building trucks, and being along the Saginaw river supplies could be brought in by ship. The Old Plantation bar on Carrollton Road was the offices for the factory, The original building burned down several years ago, the current bar is a newer building.
Frank Ruggles was the president with local Saginaw Businessman William J. Wickes as vice president and Walter C. Hill was the treasurer. The company had a sales office in the bank building at 109 N. Washington and would display one of their trucks out front. Interestingly Frank Ruggles never lived in Saginaw, he had a beautiful mansion in Alma, and continued to live there and would commute to Saginaw in his Paige motor car ( I have an interesting article about Paige you may like on my lost In Michigan page HERE). Alma is a little bit of a drive in a modern car on paved roads, I can only Imagine what it was like back in the 20’s.
Ruggles built several different models of trucks, from a ¾ ton “go getter”, a dump truck, all they way up to 29 passenger buses. They sold trucks to several municipalities throughout the country and to the U.S. Navy. Sales were doing good up until 1926 when the market was flooded with trucks returning back from WWII, at that time the company was struggling. It was re-organized and Frank Ruggles was forced out and former congressman Joseph Fordney became president. The final blow that ultimately doomed the company was a the 1928 hurricane in Florida. The company had over 200 trucks in inventory at Coral Gables Fl. that were destroyed and the company was never able to recover from the loss. There are few Ruggles truck remaining to this day, I am guessing the WWII scrap drive melted down most of them. The San Diego Auto Museum has a 1922 Ruggles truck on display, there is a pic of it HERE
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