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Kenworth Motor Truck Corporation incorporates in Seattle in January 1923.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3192 : Printer-Friendly Format

In January 1923, the Kenworth Motor Truck Corporation incorporates in Seattle. The company builds trucks for the expanding trucking industry specializing in vehicles designed for the West, where distances are longer and grades steeper than in the East. The name is derived from founders Edgar K. Worthington (b. 1868) and Harry W. Kent (1881-1937). In 1945, Kenworth becomes part of Pacific Car and Foundry Company.

In 1917, Worthington and Captain Frederick S. Keen of Seattle took over the assets of bankrupt Gerlinger Motor Car Company of Portland and Seattle. Worthington and Keen were in the marine finance business and were Gerlinger's landlords in Seattle. They formed the Gersix Manufacturing Co. to continue making a six-cylinder truck. In 1922, Gersix made 53 trucks at its factory on Fairview Avenue at Valley Street.

Under the new name, the company moved to 506 Mercer Street and later to 1263 Mercer Street. Trucks and motor coaches were assembled in individual bays rather than on a conventional assembly line. Kenworth was first to offer the diesel engine as original equipment in a truck.

During World War II, Kenworth built heavy-duty wreckers for the Army, and sub-assemblies for the Boeing B-17 bomber.

After Kenworth President Philip Johnson died in 1944, Paul Pigott (1900-1961) purchased the company on behalf of Pacific Car and Foundry Co. In January 1946, Pacific Car purchased the Fisher Body plant near Boeing Field as a new home for Kenworth.

Sources:
Alex Groner, PACCAR: The Pursuit of Quality, (Bellevue: Documentary Book Publishing Co., 1981), 1-85.


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Truck assembly bays at Kenworth, Cascade neighborhood, Seattle, 1934
Courtesy MOHAI (Neg. 83.10.4,964.40)


 
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