Founded in 1910 by Cora and Wayne Taylor of Owosso, Michigan, Indian Trails was originally known as the Phillips-Taylor Livery Service and specialized in moving passengers and freight from the local Durand Union Train Depot to points around Shiawassee County. True pioneers in their field, the Taylors actually built some of their first autobuses. By the mid-teens, they had expanded their service to Flint and became known as the Owosso-Flint Bus Line.
Along with the growth of the automobile manufacturing businesses in Flint and Saginaw, the small line grew. By the time World War I began, they were serving passengers all the way from Saginaw and Bay City to Flint and Detroit. During the war years, Wayne Taylor served in the Army Signal Corp and saw combat in France, while Cora ran the growing bus line, a little heard of practice in those days. Another first for the company saw Cora "man" the wheel of those early highway cruisers, becoming the first woman in Michigan to be issued a chauffeur's license. Today, in recognition of her many accomplishments, Cora's portrait hangs in the Michigan Department of Transportation's Hall of Honor.
A student of Michigan history, Cora Taylor researched some 65 native Indian Chiefs and began the tradition of "christening" each coach in honor of a native Michigan Chief. The tradition continues to this day, with each Indian Trails' coach proudly bearing the name of an Ottawa, Potawatomie or Chippewa chief. The company officially incorporated as Indian Trails Bus Lines around 1935, the same year that the Federal Highway Act brought all bus operations under the control of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Still pioneers in their own right, the Taylors were among the first bus operations in the United States to acquire modern rear-engine-design diesel buses in the late 1930s. It was during these same years that the company became closely allied with Greyhound Lines in cooperative fare and schedule arrangements to aid in passenger service, a relationship that exists to this day with the largest bus transportation service in the world.
World War II brought more challenges for Indian Trails bus operations with shortages of fuel, tires, drivers and equipment. Innovative and enterprising, the Taylors survived and prospered by bartering, trading, and pooling resources with other bus operators to continue this now vital service.
Operating between Flint and Chicago via Battle Creek and the Fort Custer Army Depot, the Indian Trails route was constantly busy moving troops and civilians doing their part in the war effort. The Taylors' young nephew, Bill Himburg, was one of those serving his country in the United States Navy, seeing service in several major campaigns. Upon his return from active duty in December 1945, young Himburg joined Indian Trails where he served in a variety of levels from operations manager to general manager to vice president, president and finally as chairman in 1986.
Under Himburg's guidance, the company expanded service to the Thumb area of Michigan, began escorted tour service, and developed its charter business. Throughout the 1950s the company developed a new equipment purchase policy to add new coaches into the fleet every year. This policy has led to Indian Trails becoming the leader in Michigan with the most modern fleet of coaches on the road, usually adding up to five new units every year.
Today's Indian Trails operates some 81 coaches from three modern facilities in Owosso, Kalamazoo, and Metro Detroit. In recent years, over 1,700,000 passengers ride Indian Trails chartered trips and daily services between Bay City and Chicago, as well the routes between Grand Rapids and St. Ignace, Bay City-St. Ignace, Lansing-St. Ignace and all of the Upper Peninsula. With annual charter coach revenues in excess of $12 million, Indian Trails continues to be one of the leading coach operators in the USA.
Now in its third generation of continuous family ownership, guided by Himburg's son-in-law, Gordon Mackay, Indian Trails continues to lead and innovate to serve the traveling public.
In 2006, Mackay envisioned and launched another new enterprise, adding daily airport service to the company's repertoire. In partnership with Okemos Skybird Travel, Michigan Flyer airport service is steadily gaining new passengers as are all other aspects of the company's service; the future looks to be as promising as it must have appeared nearly 100 years ago. Wayne and Cora Taylor would indeed be proud of the legacy they began as their family has continued their tradition of quality and excellence since 1910.