Whitehead & Kales - W&K - 1895-1980s - Detroit, Michigan & River Rouge, Michigan


Whitehead & Kales aka W&K – Detroit, Michigan & River Rouge, Michigan - W&K was a large structural steel company that built railway cars as well as aerodynamic new car haulers from the 1920s through the 1980s. The laws governing trailer lengths varied from state to state and W&K offered cabs and trailers for firms around the country.  --- history ---- WHITEHEAD, James Thomas, iron works; born, Wyandotte, Mich., Sept. 28, 1864; son of James and Mary (McEvoy) Whitehead; educated in public schools of Wyandotte and Detroit, and at Go dsmith's Business College; married at Detroit, Apr. 8, 1885, Ida Marie Frazer. Began active career in employ of Rathbone, Sard & Co., 1879, continuing until 1888, when he succeeded John B. Dyer in the Detroit Metal and Heating Works; in 1893, Henry B. Lewis was admitted to partnership and the firm name was changed to Whitehead & Lewis; continued in same line of business until 1897, when he retired from firm and started a structural iron works under firm name of J. T. Whitehead & Co.; in 1899, William R. Kales joined the firm and the name became Whitehead & Kales Iron Works;  KALES, William Robert; born, Chicago, Aug. 8, 1870; son of Francis Henry (attorney) and Ellen (Davis) Kale’s; educated in public and private schools, Chicago; Phillips Exeter Acad., Exeter, N.H.; Mass. Institute of Technology, Boston, 1888-92, graduating as mechanical engineer, degree of B.S., 1892; married, Detroit, Oct. 1, 1895, Alice, daughter of John S. Gray. Engaged in steam engine construction at Worcester, Mass., Chicago and Milwaukee, 1892-95; engineer with Brown Hoisting Machinery Co., Cleveland, 1895-99; assisted in organizing firm of Whitehead & Kales, Detroit, Oct. 1, 1899, manufacturers of structural steel for bridges, buildings, etc., incorporated, Nov. 1, 1905, as the Whitehead & Kales Iron Works. Also vice president Detroit car Building and Equipment Co. – “The Book of Detroiters” Copyright, 1908 by Albert Nelson Marquis. During the early 1960s Whitehead & Kales Co., Detroit, fabricated and erected steel for the new Chrysler Stamping Plant in what was then Sterling Township. W&K built unusual “skyscraper” Dodge COE auto transporters for Commercial Carriers in the 1950s.


Whitehead & Kales built semi-trailer stake truck and livestock bodies for use with Ford Model AA cabs.

W&K also built light rail cars from 1895-1945



For more information please read:

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks


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