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PROGRESS IN VARIOUS SECTIONS.

 

NEW ENGLAND AND NEW YORK RAILWAYS.

THE following was reported to be the result of the operations of the prominent Massachusetts roads in 1839:—

Of the receipts, $682,387 were derived from passengers, and $343,240 from freight. The fact that these roads commenced paying liberal dividends at an early date, thus affording proof of financial success, did much to awaken a hope that similar results would be secured elsewhere. The line of greatest significance in New England in 1839 was the Boston and Worcester, and its proposed extension, the Western, which, combined with other links, subsequently became the Boston and Albany, and thus furnished a link, with portions of the existing Vanderbilt system, by which Boston expected to secure superior rail connections with the lakes and the Western states. Of the existing Boston and Albany system, 118.96 miles were completed in 1839.

A message of the Governor of the state of New York stated that at the close of 1839 the railroads of that state consisted "of a continuous line of railroad from Albany to Auburn, 170 miles, (which was owned and operated by four distinct companies;) a similar line from Lockport to Lewistown and Buffalo, 47 miles; a railroad from. Rochester to Batavia, 35 miles; a railroad from Schenectady to Saratoga Springs, 21 miles; a railroad from Troy to Ballston Spa, 25 miles; a railroad from New York to Harlem, 8 miles; a railroad from Brooklyn to Hicksville, on Long Island, 27 miles; a railroad from the termination of the west branch of the Chemung Canal to the Tioga, Railroad, in Pennsylvania, 14 miles; a railroad crossing the ridge between the Susquehanna at Owego and the Cayuga lake at Ithaca, 29 miles, and a railroad from the line of Massachusetts at West Stockbridge to the city of Hudson, 30 miles. These roads have all been constructed, and are managed by companies."

The state of New York pursued a peculiar policy in reference to railways at that time, inasmuch as it was unwilling to permit rivalry with the Erie Canal, and lines located near that canal, which were subsequently incorporated into the New York Central system, were at first not permitted to carry any freight. Subsequently they were allowed to carry freight on condition that they paid on it precisely the same tolls that would have been due to the state if it had been carried on the canals. After years of persistent efforts to secure state aid for railways the friends of the New York and Erie finally secured the passage of an act in 1837 providing that the commonwealth should furnish $3,000,000 towards construction, in the ratio of dollar for dollar, or with the understanding that as the company expended $100,000 they were to receive $100,000 from the state. Previous or up to 1840 the company had received $400,000 under this arrangement, and at that time 222 miles of the road were under contract. Portions of the route now occupied by the New York Central were then either operated or being constructed by nine companies. Some of these companies had achieved remarkable financial success. The Mohawk and Hudson, notwithstanding its deprivation of freight traffic, and the extra expenditures arising from the fact that it had been an experimental line, with unnecessary inclined planes, was dividing 12 per cent. per annum, and accumulating a surplus. The Utica and Syracuse had realized a net revenue of 10 per cent. during the six months ended December 31st, 1839.

 

NEW JERSEY IMPROVEMENTS—THE CAMDEN AND AMBOY.

The progress of the transportation movements in New Jersey is set forth in a report of the joint board of directors to the stockholders of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation Companies, presented at a meeting held on January 29th, 1840. After labors continued during a period of ten years this was the first detailed report issued, and it not only announced that the canal and railroad were completed, but that the pecuniary results and prospects were eminently satisfactory. It is scarcely to be expected that stockholders of the present day would be entirely satisfied if detailed statements were only submitted at intervals of ten years, especially while construction was progressing, but it has rarely happened that equally profitable results have been announced, either at long or short intervals. The report invited the closest scrutiny into expenditures of millions, and the cost of the works is reported to be $6,064,953.42, while the share capital was $2,900,000, the balance being borrowed at an average interest of 6 per cent. Of the public results secured it says: "Formerly the passage between Philadelphia and New York occupied from eleven to twenty hours, and was performed with great personal discomfort and no small hazard of limb and life. Merchandise was transported from city to city at great expense of insurance as well as of freight, and subject to all the difficulties, uncertainties, and danger of a coasting voyage. Now passengers are carried from city to city, during the most inclement seasons, in from six to seven hours, and with nearly the same comfort as they enjoy at their own firesides. Merchandise is transported in less time, with less expense, and with an entire saving of insurance." The Delaware and Raritan Canal was referred to as a work of 65 miles in length, which was adding year after year greatly to the value of the agricultural interests of New Jersey, and which Would probably have its revenues materially increased after the completion of the Reading railroad to the anthracite coal region. Of the financial results the report states that during the previous six months there was a profit of 7 per cent., and a table was published to show that during the previous seven years there had been in annual increase of the profits of the companies of 20 per cent., and that if this ratio continued during the succeeding seven years, a dividend of 28 per cent. per annum would then be earned.

The statement of financial results from 1833 to 1839 inclusive, embraced the following record:—

The report refers to an arrangement with the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad Company, made in June, 1836, "by which the receipts of the companies were amalgamated, so as to divide on the shares of the companies, share find share alike, and to equalize the dividends." It states that this arrangement bad been attended with the most beneficial results. It was one of the first instances, if not the first, of a consolidation of railway lilies located in adjacent states.

The report is signed by James Parker, chairman of the joint board, and the following directors: R. F. Stockton, Robert L. Stevens, Abraham Brown, John C. Stevens, W. McKnight, J. Kaign, G. D. Wall, B. Fish, J. S. Green, J. W. Mickle, J. Nelson, J. R. Thomson, E. A. Stevens.

One of the remarkable paragraphs of the report, in a personal point of view, is the following: "Although We cannot attempt to name all the individuals from whom we have obtained advice and assistance during the progress of our labors, still we may not overlook the important and invaluable aid we have received from one of the directors, (now absent,) Mr. John Potter, of New Jersey, formerly of South Carolina. To his enterprise, firmness, and public spirit are the public, as well as ourselves, more indebted, perhaps, than to any other individual for the successful issue of your affairs."

Another feature of the report which excited much attention, and probably had much to do with the practical abandonment of canal construction by companies, was its explanation of the fact that the railway had been quite profitable, while the canal had done very little more than pay expenses. In six years the gross receipts of the railways of the company had been $4,169,492; expenses, $1,966,901; net income, $2,202,591. During the same period, from 1834 to 1839, inclusive, the receipts of the Delaware and Raritan Canal were $306,895; expenditures, $210,344; net income, $96,551. As the canal had cost $2,829,769, and the railway but little more, it did not require much argument to satisfy investing projectors that it was better to support a class of undertakings which bad yielded $2,202,591 net profit during six years than a class which had yielded only $96,551, both being managed by the same company. Many of the statesmen of the day, however, continued to favor canals. They seem to have always had a partiality for water routes when questions involving expenditures of public money were agitated.

DELAWARE AND MARYLAND IMPROVEMENTS.

The New Castle find Frenchtown, the first railway in Delaware, and one of the first in the United States, formed an important link in a through north and south route. The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore supplied useful railway facilities to portions of Delaware and Maryland, as well as to sections of south-eastern Pennsylvania.

In Maryland the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Baltimore and Susquehanna, the latter being the progenitor of the Northern Central, had been started by private companies, at a very early period, and liberally aided by financial assistance in the shape of loans or stock subscriptions of the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. By the close of 1839 the Baltimore and Susquehanna had extended its lines into Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore and Ohio had a fair start towards the extension of its lilies to the Ohio river.

 

IMPROVEMENTS IN PENNSYLVANIA AND SOUTHERN AND WESTERN STATES .

The number of miles of railway in operation, and number of locomotives in 1839-40, in the states named below, was reported in 1840 by Chevalier DeGerstner, who had come to this country for the express purpose of examining the American railway system, visiting nearly till the lines, and who was then said to possess more information on that subject than any other person to be as follows:—

A considerable number of the railways then in operation continued to use horses or mules as a substitute for locomotives.

The longest continuous line of railroad then in operation in Pennsylvania (and one of the longest in the United States), extended from Philadelphia to Greencastle, a distance of 163 miles. The only lines in Pennsylvania on which locomotives were then used, and the number on each, was is follows: Philadelphia, and Columbia, 36; Allegheny Portage, 17; Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown, 8; Philadelphia and Trenton, 5; Philadelphia and Wilmington, 4; Harrisburg and Lancaster, 8; Cumberland Valley, 8; Franklin, 1; Beaver Meadow, 6; Hazleton branch, 3; Sugar Loaf Summit, 1; Little Schuylkill, 5; Pottsville and Danville, 2; Williamsport and Elmira, 1; Blossburg and Corning, 2.

In Pennsylvania, in 1839, $18,050,450 had been expended on railways, of which sum about one-third represented the cost of the state railways, the Philadelphia and Columbia, and the Portage road. This was considerably more money than had then been expended for railways in any other state. The bulk of the private capital had been invested in roads leading to or from the anthracite coal regions, and most of these undertakings, in turn, were comparatively short lines, connecting the mines with canals. The most extensive of the new coal roads, however, the Philadelphia and Reading, of which 54½ miles were opened in 1839, and 15 more then graded, was a much more ambitious undertaking, inasmuch as it aimed at carrying coal by rail from the Schuylkill region to Philadelphia, in competition with the Schuylkill Canal, which had previously monopolized that traffic, and on account of this threatened competition the stock of the Schuylkill Navigation Company had declined greatly in market value. Independent of the coal roads and the state roads, the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown; Cumberland Valley; West Chester; Philadelphia and Wilmington, which formed the link in Pennsylvania of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore; the Philadelphia and Trenton, which formed the Pennsylvania branch of the New Jersey railway system; the Harrisburg and Lancaster, now part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Williamsport and Elmira, connecting a portion of northern Pennsylvania with southern New York, were in operation. The Cumberland Valley, and Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown, although finally very successful, were at an early stage of their history regarded is very unpromising enterprises. Of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore it was reported in 1839 that its net income was $194,503, which was considered sufficient to justify a liberal dividend. Philadelphia had also built three railways within her limits, to be operated chiefly, if not exclusively, with animal power, which had an aggregate length of six miles. The Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad had cost $48,780 per mile, and the Allegheny Portage road $50,450 per mile, and they were two of the most expensive roads that had then been built in the United States. The estimated cost of the Reading was also unusually large, being at the rate of $45,000 per mile. But nearly all the other roads were comparatively cheap and the estimated cost per mile of all the railways in Pennsylvania then finished, and in process of construction, was $27,130 per mile.

 

RAILWAYS IN SOUTHERN AND WESTERN STATES.

Of the railways in operation in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Florida in 1839, all used locomotives except two shortlines. While the mileage then in operation in those states was 994, there was ail additional mileage of 301 graded, and 380½ projected, making the total mileage in those states, completed and contemplated, 1,675½. The amount of capital that had been expended on construction was $18,442,000, and the estimated additional amount necessary for completion was $7,770,000, making the total cost $26,212,000, and the average cost per mile $15,644.

These lines were the first to form continuous systems of considerable magnitude, one of which extended from Fredericksburg, Va., to Wilmington, N. C., a distance of 304, miles, and another from Fredericksburg to Raleigh, N. C., a distance of 227½ miles.

The railroads in operation in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky in 1839 had an aggregate in mileage of 195, but 421 additional miles were graded, and 5321 projected. The amount of capital already expended was $9,621,000, and the estimated amount necessary to complete the unfinished lines was $9,613,000, a total of $19,234,000, and an average cost per mile of $16,750.

The length of the railroads in operation in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois was 196 miles; additional mileage graded, 533; not yet constructed, 2,092½, and the aggregate length of the projected systems was 2,821½ miles. The amount of capital expended had been $5,523,640, and the estimated additional amount necessary for completion was $27,114,500, making the total cost $32,638,140, and the average cost per mile $11,568. Of the completed mileage of these states, 56 were operated with horse power, and on 140 miles locomotive engines were run.

 

THE GENERAL RESULTS.

It will be seen that up to 1840 no continuous road of considerable length had been completed by any single company, and most of the mileage existing it the end of the fourth decade represented detached enterprises, which either served purely local purposes or acted as connecting links between natural or artificial water-courses The germ of great systems, however, had been established, and notably of the Pennsylvania, New York Central, and Baltimore and Ohio. A number of the lines constructed by private companies had, at the outset, greatly disappointed the expectations of their projectors, and proved unprofitable. Some schemes, after being well advanced, were abandoned for years on account of financial stringency arising from the panic of 1837. In some of the cases where state or city aid had been granted, peculiar difficulties had sprung up, and in other cases the results were no entirely satisfactory for various reasons. It seems to rarely require much experience to convince some of the parties interested that railways are not invariably an unmixed blessing.

At the close of 1839 there was no extensive continuous internal improvement of a single given character and ownership extending through a number of states except the National road, a superior turnpike, which had been constructed by appropriations of the United States government, made during period of about thirty years. The only other extensive continuous systems under a single management were the New York canals and the main line and branches of the Pennsylvania system of internal improvements, which incidentally included two railways that were about 120 miles in length. But the necessary means for both these undertakings were obtained from state treasuries, and mainly through the proceed of the sale of state bonds. No private company up to that time possessed sufficient capital or credit to construct a continuous railway of considerable length, and in the absence of state aid it would then have been useless to attempt to build such lines. The longest route of continuous land travel, interspersed with occasional steamboat trips and staging, but made up largely of railway links, was on the great north and south mail route, extending from Boston to New Orleans, near the Atlantic seaboard and gulf of Mexico, but ambitious effort were then, as in all subsequent periods, generally directed to wards the improvement of lines and systems extending west ward, and the prominent competitors for western traffic, to be won by railway extensions included Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and Savannah.

A distinguished Frenchman, Monsieur Chevalier, who visited this country in 1838, said of the great public works then progressing in the United States that "they must have for their objects:—

First. To bind the shores of the Atlantic with the country west of the Allegheny; that is to say, to connect rivers, such as the Hudson, the Susquehanna, the Potomac, the James river, or bays, such as the Delaware or the Chesapeake, either with the Mississippi or its tributary, the Ohio, or with the St. Lawrence, or the great lakes, Eric and Ontario, whose waters are conveyed by the St. Lawrence into the sea.

Second. To establish communications between the valley of' the Mississippi and that of the St. Lawrence; that is to say, between one of the great tributaries of the Mississippi, such as the Ohio, the Illinois, or the Wabash, and lake Erie or lake Michigan, which lakes of all those which have an outlet by the St. Lawrence extend furthest south.

Third. To connect the north and south poles of the Union, New York and New Orleans.

Independently of these great systems of public works, which are in progress of construction, and even in part executed, there exist secondary groups of lines of transportation, having for objects either to facilitate access to centres of consumption or open outlets to certain centres of production. The first of this class of cases embraces different works, canals, or railroads, which leave the great cities as centres, and radiate in different directions around them. The second comprises such works as have been executed to bring into market different coal fields."

The first single line in the United States to attain considerable length was that of the South Carolina Railroad Company, or the South Carolina and Hamburg road. In 1833 it had 137 miles in operation, and it constructed the first continuous 100 miles of railway that were built in any part of the world. In 1834 active efforts were being made to extend its system to Louisville and Cincinnati.

The largest amount of mileage embraced in any of the continuous existing systems which was finished in 1839 was that reported by the New York Central, consisting of 179.78 miles, but at that time this mileage was owned and controlled by a number of distinct companies.

A much larger amount of the mileage now controlled by the Pennsylvania was in operation in 1839, and it includes the following lines, viz: Cumberland Valley, 68.32; Elmira and Williamsport, 24.20; Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mount Joy and Lancaster, 35.54; Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis, 22.00; Northern Central, 65.70; Philadelphia and Columbia, etc., 93.89; Philadelphia and Trenton, 26.44; Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, 103.66; United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, 132.11; West Chester, 5.20; total, 444.95 miles.

The Baltimore and Ohio mileage in 1839 consisted of 84.50 miles on its main line and 31 on the Washington branch.

The Boston and Albany mileage was 118.96.

It would be idle to attempt to describe the particular events that made up the history of any of the lines that gradually familiarized the inhabitants of one section after another with a tangible idea of a railroad. Wherever engineers and contractors prosecuted their labors vigorously the process of filling up valleys, making deep cuts in elevated regions, and bridging streams and rivers, excited wonder and led to a variety of incidents and complications. The changes effected and foreshadowed were so numerous and momentous that in many localities a new point of departure in rural chronology was furnished by the time the railroad was built. There were a variety of trials and vicissitudes, industrial revolutions, fortunes made and lost, distressing accidents, some parties highly pleased and others terribly indignant, and often an influx of immigrants who followed in the wake of the advancing line, some of whom became permanent residents. For some communities and individuals the railway did much, for others comparatively little, and to a few it may have been a positive injury. But there was no line which did not serve one of the chief ends of modern life by promoting the greatest good of the greatest number affected.


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