Commercial Geography - A Book for High Schools, Commercial Courses, and Business Colleges
by Jacques W. Redway
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Text enclosed by equal signs was in bold face in the original (bold).


A Book for High Schools Commercial Courses, and Business Colleges



Author of "A Series of Geographies," "An Elementary Physical Geography," "The New Basis of Geography"

Charles Scribner's Sons New York ... 1907

Copyright, 1903, by Jacques W. Redway


The quiet industrial struggle through which the United States passed during the last decade of the nineteenth century cannot fail to impress the student of political economy with the fact that commercial revolution is a normal result of industrial evolution. Within a period of twenty-five years the transportation of commodities has grown to be not only a science, but a power in the betterment of civil and political life as well; and the world, which in the time of M. Jules Verne was eighty days wide, is now scarcely forty.

The invention of the Bessemer process for making steel was intended primarily to give the railway-operator a track that should be free from the defects of the soft, wrought-iron rail; in fact, however, it created new industrial centres all over the world and brought Asia and Africa under commercial conquest. The possibilities of increased trade between the Atlantic seaboard and the Pacific Coast States led to the building of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railways. But when these were thoroughly organized, there unexpectedly resulted a new trade-route that already is drawing traffic away from the Suez Canal and landing it at Asian shores by way of the ports of Puget Sound. It is a repetition of the adjustment that occurred when the opening of the Cape route to India transferred the trade that had gathered about Venice and Genoa to the shores of the North and Baltic Seas.

In other words, a new order of things has come about, and the world and the people therein are readjusting themselves to the requirements made upon them by commerce. And so at the beginning of a new century, civilized man is drawing upon all the rest of the world to satisfy his wants, and giving to all the world in return; he is civilized because of this interchange and not in spite of it.

The necessity for instruction in a subject that pertains so closely to the welfare of a people is apparent, and an apology for presenting this manual is needless. Moreover, it should not interfere in any way with the regular course in geography; indeed, more comprehensive work in the latter is becoming imperative, and it should be enriched rather than curtailed.

In the preparation of the work, I wish to express my appreciation of the great assistance of Principal Myron T. Pritchard, Edward Everett School, Boston, Mass. I am also much indebted to the map-engraving department of Messrs. The Matthews-Northrup Company, Buffalo, N.Y.































































TO THE TEACHER:—The contents of this book are so topicalized and arranged that, if the time for the study is limited, a short course may be selected. Under no circumstances, however, should Chapters V, VI, VIII, IX, XII, and XIII be omitted. A casual inspection of the questions at the end of each chapter will serve to show that they cannot be answered from the pages of the book, and they have been selected with this idea in view. They are intended first of all to stimulate individual thought, and secondly to encourage the pupil to investigate the topics by consulting original sources. The practice of corresponding with pupils in other parts of the world cannot be too highly commended.

The following list represents a minimum rather than a maximum reference library. It may be enlarged at the judgment of the teacher. A good atlas and a cyclopaedia are also necessary.

Industrial Evolution of the United States. WRIGHT. Charles Scribner's Sons.

History of Commerce in Europe. GIBBINS. The Macmillan Company.

Discovery of America. FISKE. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

The New Empire. ADAMS. The Macmillan Company.

Statesman's Year-Book. KELTIE. The Macmillan Company.

Outlines of Political Science. GUNTON AND ROBBINS. D. Appleton & Co.

The Wheat Problem. CROOKES. G.P. Putnam's Sons.

South America. CARPENTER. American Book Company.

From the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., the following monographs may be procured:[1]

Commercial China. American Commerce. Commercial Australia. Commercial Japan. Commercial Africa. Commercial India. Statistical Abstract. Great Canals of the World. World's Sugar Production and Consumption.

The following from the Department of Agriculture is necessary:

Check List of Forest Trees of the United States.

Lantern slides illustrating the subjects treated in this book may be procured from T.H. McAllister, 49 Nassau Street, New York. Stereoscopic views may be obtained from Underwood & Underwood, Fifth Avenue and Nineteenth Street, New York.




Commerce and modern civilization go hand in hand, and the history of the one is the history of the other; and whatever may be the basis of civilization, commerce has been the chief agent by which it has been spread throughout the world. Peoples who receive nothing from their fellow-men, and who give nothing in return, are usually but little above a savage state. Civilized man draws upon all the rest of the world for what he requires, and gives to the rest of the world in return. He is civilized because of this fact and not in spite of it.

There is scarcely a country in the world that does not yield something or other to civilized peoples. There is scarcely a household whose furnishings and contents do not represent an aggregate journey of several times around the earth. A family in New York at breakfast occupy chairs from Grand Rapids, Mich.; they partake of bread made of wheat from Minnesota, and meat from Texas prepared in a range made in St. Louis; coffee grown in Sumatra or Java, or tea from China is served in cups made in Japan, sweetened with sugar from Cuba, stirred with spoons of silver from Nevada. Spices from Africa, South America, and Asia season the food, which is served on a table of New Hampshire oak, covered with a linen spread made from flax grown in Ireland or in Russia. Rugs from Bokhara, or from Baluchistan, cover the floors; portieres made in Constantinople hang at the doors; and the room is heated with coal from Pennsylvania that burns in a furnace made in Rhode Island.

Now all these things may be, and usually are, found in the great majority of families in the United States or Europe, and most of them will be found in nearly all households. Certain it is that peoples do exist who, from the immediate vicinity in which they live, procure all the things they use or consume. In the main, however, such peoples are savages.

A moment's thought will make it clear that before an ordinary meal can be served there must be railways, steamships, great manufacturing establishments, iron quarries, and coal mines, aggregating many thousand millions of dollars, and employing many million people. A casual inspection, too, reveals the fact that all of the substances and things required by mankind come from the earth, and, a very few excepted, every one requires a certain amount of manufacture or preliminary treatment before it is usable. The grains and nearly all the other food-stuffs require various processes of preparation before they are ready for consumption by civilized peoples. Iron and the various other ores used in the arts must undergo elaborate processes of manufacture; coal must be mined, broken, cleaned, and transported; the soil in which food-stuffs are grown must be fertilized and mechanically prepared; and even the water required for domestic purposes in many instances must be transported long distances.

A little thought will suffice to show that not only are all food-stuffs derived from the earth, but that also every usable resource which constitutes wealth is also drawn from the same source. The same is also pretty nearly true of the various forms of energy, for although the sun is the real source of light and heat, and probably of electricity, these agents are usable only when they have been transformed into earth energies. Thus, the physical energy generated by falling water is merely a transformed portion of solar heat; so also the coal-beds contain both the chemical and physical energy of solar heat and light converted into potential energy—that is, into force that can be used at the will of intelligence. Indeed, the physical being of mankind is an organism born of the earth, and adapted to the earth; and when that physical form dies, it merely is transformed again to ordinary earth substances.

The chief activities of living beings are those relating to the maintenance of life. In other words, animals must feed, and they must also protect themselves against extermination. In the case of all other animals this is a very simple matter, they simply live in immediate contact with their food, migrating or perishing if the supply gives out. In the case of mankind the conditions are different and vastly more elaborate. Savage peoples excepted, man does not live within close touch of the things he requires; indeed, he cannot, for he depends upon all the world for what he uses. In a less enlightened state many of these commodities were luxuries; in a civilized state they have become necessities. Moreover, nearly everything civilized man employs has been prepared by processes in which heat is employed.

Therefore one may specify several classes of human activities and employments:

(a) The production of food-stuffs and other commodities by the cultivation of the soil—Agriculture.

(b) The preparation of food-stuffs and things used for shelter, protection, or ornament—Manufacture.

(c) The production of minerals for the generation of power, such as coal, or those such as iron, copper, stone, etc., required in the arts and sciences—Mining.

(d) The exchange of food stuffs and commodities—Commerce.

(e) The transfer of commodities—Transportation.

It is evident that the prosperity and happiness of a people depend very largely on the condition of their surroundings—that is, their environment. If a country or an inhabited area produces all the food-stuffs and commodities required by its people, the conditions are very fortunate. A very few nations, notably China and the United States, have such diverse conditions of climate, topography, and mineral resources, that they can, if necessary, produce within their national borders everything needed by their peoples.

The prosecution of such a policy, however, is rarely economical; in the history of the past it has always resulted in weakness and disintegration. China is to-day helpless because of a policy of self-seclusion; and the marvellous growth of Japan began when her trade was thrown open to the world.

For the greater part the environment of a people is deficient—that is, the locality of a people does not yield all that is required for the necessities of life. For instance, the New England plateau requires an enormous amount of fuel for its manufacturing enterprises; but practically no coal is found within its borders; hence the manufacturers must either command the coal to be shipped from other regions or give up their employment. The people of Canada require a certain amount of cotton cloth; but the cotton plant will not grow in a cold climate, so they must either exchange some of their own commodities for cotton, or else go without it. The inhabitants of Great Britain produce only a small part of the food-stuffs they consume; therefore they are constantly exchanging their manufactured products for the food-stuffs that of necessity must be produced in other parts of the world.

The dwellers of the New England plateau might grow the bread-stuffs they require, and in times past they did so. At that time, however, a barrel of flour was worth twelve dollars. But the wheat of the prairie regions can be grown, manufactured into flour, transported a thousand miles, and sold at a profit for less than five dollars a barrel. Therefore it is evidently more economical to buy flour in Minnesota than to grow the wheat and make it into flour in Massachusetts.

All these problems, and they exist without number, show that man may overcome most of the obstacles that surround him. So we find civilized man living in almost every part of the world. Tropical regions are not too scorching, nor are arctic fastnesses too cold for him. In other words, because of commerce and transportation, he can and usually does master the conditions of his environment; his intelligence enables him to do so, and his ability to do so is the result of the intelligent use of experience and education.



The history of western civilization is so closely connected with the development of the great routes of travel and the growth of commerce that one cannot possibly separate them. Commerce cannot exist without the intercourse of peoples, and peoples cannot be in mutual communication unless each learns from the other.

Feudalism.—When the Roman Empire fell civilization in western Europe was not on a high plane; indeed, the feudalism that followed was not much above barbarism. The people were living in a manner that was not very much unlike the communal system under which the serfs of Russia lived only a few years ago. Each centre of population was a sort of military camp governed by a feudal lord. The followers and retainers were scarcely better off than slaves; indeed, many of them were slaves. There was no ownership of the land except by the feudal lords, and the latter were responsible for their acts to the king only.

But very few people cared to be absolutely free, because they had but little chance to protect themselves; so it was the common custom to attach one's self to a feudal lord in order to have his protection; even a sort of peonage or slavery under him was better than no protection at all. A few of the people were engaged in trade and manufacture of some kind or other, and they were the only ones through whom the feudal lord could supply himself with the commodities needed for his retainers and the luxuries necessary to himself.

Each feudal estate, therefore, became a sort of industrial centre by itself, producing its own food-stuffs and much of the coarser manufactures. It was not a very high condition of enlightenment, but it was much better than the one which preceded it, for at least it offered protection. It encouraged a certain amount of trade and commerce, because the feudal lord had many wants, and he was usually willing to protect the merchant who supplied them.

The Crusades and Commerce.—The Crusades, or wars by which the Christians sought to recover the Holy Land from the Turk, resulted in a trade between Europe and India that grew to wonderful proportions. Silk fabrics, cotton cloth, precious stones, ostrich plumes, ivory, spices, and drugs—all of which were practically unknown in Europe—were eagerly sought by the nobility and their dependencies. In return, linen and woollen fabrics, leather goods, glassware, blacklead, and steel implements were carried to the far East.

Milan, Florence, Venice and Genoa, Constantinople and a number of less important towns along the Mediterranean basin became important trade centres, but Venice and Genoa grew to be world powers in commerce. Not only were they great receiving and distributing depots of trade, but they were great manufacturing centres as well.

The routes over which this enormous commerce was carried were few in number. For the greater part, the Venetian trade went to Alexandria, and thence by the Red Sea to India. Genoese merchants sent their goods to Constantinople and Trebizond, thence down the Tigris River to the Persian Gulf and to India. There was also another route that had been used by the Phoenicians. It extended from Tyre through Damascus and Palmyra[2] to the head of the Persian Gulf; this gradually fell into disuse after the founding of Alexandria.

The general effects of this trade were very far-reaching. To the greater number of the people of Europe, the countries of India, China, and Japan were mythical. According to tradition they were infested with dragons and gryphons, and peopled by dog-headed folk or by one-eyed Arimaspians. About the first real information of them to be spread over Europe was brought by Marco Polo, whose father and uncle had travelled all through these countries during the latter part of the thirteenth century.[3] Marco Polo's writings were very widely read, and influenced a great many people who could not be reached through the ordinary channels of commerce. So between the wars of the Crusades on the one hand, and the growth of commerce on the other, a new and a better civilization began to spread over Europe.

The Turkish Invasions.—But the magnificent trade that had thus grown up was checked for a time by an unforeseen factor. The half-savage Turkomans living southeast of Russia had become converted to the religion of Islam, and in their zeal for the new belief, determined to destroy the commerce which seemed to be connected with Christianity. So they moved in upon the borderland between Europe and Asia, and one after another the trade routes were tightly closed. Then they captured Constantinople, and the routes between Genoa and the Orient were hermetically sealed. Moslem power also spread over Syria and Egypt, and so, little by little, the trade of Venice was throttled.

Now a commerce that involved not only many millions of dollars, but the employment of thousands of people as well, is not likely to be given up without a struggle. So the energy that had been devoted to this great trade was turned in a new direction, and there began a search for a new route to India—one that the Turks could not blockade.

The Search for an All-Water Route to India.—Overland routes were out of the question; there were none that could be made available, and so the search was made for a sea-route. Rather singularly the Venetians and Genoese, who had hitherto controlled this trade, took no part in the search; it was conducted by the Spanish and the Portuguese.

The Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile, fitted out an expedition under Christopher Columbus, a master-mariner and cartographer, the funds being provided by Isabella, who pledged her private property as security for the cost of the expedition. This expedition resulted in the discovery, October 10-21, 1492, of the West India Islands. In a subsequent voyage, Columbus discovered the mainland of South America.

Even before the voyage of Columbus, the Portuguese had been trying to find a way around Africa to India, and Pope Eugenius IV. had conferred on Portugal "all heathen lands from Cape Bojador eastward even to the Indies." Little by little, therefore, Portuguese navigators were pushing southward until, in 1487, Bartholomew Dias sighted the Cape of Good Hope, and got about as far as Algoa Bay. Then he unwillingly turned back because of the threats of his crew. It was a most remarkable voyage, and one of the shipmates of Dias was Bartholomew Columbus, a brother of the discoverer of the New World.

Ten years later, or five years after the voyage of Columbus, Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon for the Cape of Good Hope. As he passed the Cape he was terribly storm-tossed, but the storms carried him in a fortunate direction. And when at last he got his reckonings, he was off the coast of India; he therefore kept along the coast until in sight of a port. The port was the well-known city of Calicut. Two years later he returned to Europe by the same route, his ships laden with spices, precious stones, beautiful tapestries and brocades, ivory and bronzes. The long-sought sea-route to India had been discovered.

Commerce in Western Europe.—After the discovery of the new route, Venice and Genoa were scarcely heard of in relation to commerce; they lost everything and gained nothing. The great commerce with the Orient was to have a new western terminus, and the latter was to be on the shores of the North and Baltic Seas.

The commerce between Europe and India stimulated trade in western Europe as well. As early as the twelfth century the manufacture of linen and woollen cloth had grown to be a very important industry that had resulted in the rapid growth of population. The older cities grew rapidly, and new ones sprang up wherever the commodities of trade were gathered, manufactured, or distributed.

These centres of trade had two hostile elements against them. The feudal lords used to pillage them legally by extorting heavy taxes and forced loans whenever their treasuries were empty. The portionless brothers and relatives of the feudal lords, to whom no employments save war, adventure, and piracy were open, pillaged them illegally. Along the coasts especially, piracy was considered not only a legitimate, but a genteel, profession. So in order to protect themselves, the cities began to join themselves into leagues.

The Hanse League.—About the beginning of the thirteenth century[4] Hamburg and Luebeck formed an alliance afterward called a hansa; at the beginning of the fourteenth century it embraced seventy cities, having the capital at Luebeck. At the time of its greatest power the League embraced all the principal cities of western Europe nearly as far south as the Danube. Large agencies, called "factories," were established in London, Bruges, Novgorod, Bergen, and Wisby. The influence of the League practically controlled western Europe.

The Hanse League performed a wonderful work. It stopped piracy on the seas and robbery on the land. Industrially, it encouraged self-government and obedience to constitutional authority. Shipbuilding and navigation so greatly improved that the ocean traffic resulting from the discovery of the cape route to India quickly fell into the hands of Hanse sailors and master-mariners. The League not only encouraged and protected all sorts of manufactures, but its schools trained thousands of operatives. The mines were worked and the idle land cultivated. It was the greatest industrial movement that ever occurred.

Socially, the Hanse League brought the wealth that gave those comforts and conveniences before unknown. The standards of social life, education, art, and science were raised from a condition scarcely better than barbarism to a high plane of civilization. Indeed, the civilization of western Europe was the most important result of it.

It forced the rights of individual freedom, as well as municipal independence, from more than one monarch, and punished severely the kings who sought to betray it. It crushed the power of those who opposed it,[5] and rewarded those who were faithful to it. Its most important mission, however, was the overthrow of feudalism and the gradual substitution of popular government in its place.

Having accomplished the regeneration of Europe, the Hanse League died partly by its own hand, because of its arrogance, but mainly from the fact that, having educated western Europe to self-government and commercial independence, there was no longer need for its existence. Independent cities grew rapidly into importance, and these got along very well without the protection of the League. The great industrial progress was at times temporarily checked by wars, but it never took a backward step. Indeed the progress of commerce has always been a contest between brains and brute force, and in such a struggle there is never any doubt about the final outcome.


What were some of the effects of Caesar's invasion of Germanic Europe so far as commerce is concerned?

What were some of the effects on commerce of the breaking up of the Roman Empire?

How did the invasion of England by William of Normandy affect the commerce of the English people?

Who was Henry the Navigator, and what did he accomplish?

How did the blockade of the routes between Europe and India bring about the discovery of America?

What was the result of the great voyage of the Cabots?

Was the overthrow of feudalism in Europe a gain or a loss to commerce?

Why are not commercial leagues, such as the Hanse, necessary at the present time?

Why did Spain's commerce decline as Portugal's thrived?


Gibbins's History of Commerce—Chapters IV-V.

Fiske's Discovery of America, Vol. 1—Chapters IV-V.



The great industry of commerce, which includes both the trade in the commodities of life and the transportation of them, is governed very largely by the character of the earth's surface. But very few food-stuffs can be grown economically in mountain-regions. Steep mountain-slopes are apt to be destitute of soil; moreover, even the mountain-valleys are apt to be difficult of access, and in such cases the cost of moving the crops may be greater than the market value of the products. Mountainous countries, therefore, are apt to be sparsely peopled regions.

But although the great mountain-systems are unhabitable, or at least sparsely peopled, they have a very definite place in the economics of life. Thus, the great western highland of the United States diverts the flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward into the central plain, and gives to the region most of its food-growing power. In a similar manner, moisture intercepted by the Alps and the Himalayas has not only created the plains of the Po and the Ganges from the rock-waste carried from the slopes, but has also made them exceedingly fertile.

Mountain-ranges are also valuable for their contents. The broken condition of the rock-folds and the rapid weathering to which they are subjected have exposed the minerals and metals so useful in the arts of commerce and civilization. Thus, the weathering of the Appalachian folds has made accessible about the only available anthracite coal measures yet worked; and the worn folds about Lake Superior have yielded the ores that have made the United States the foremost copper and steel manufacturing country of the world. Gold, silver, tin, lead, zinc, platinum, granite, slate, and marble occur mainly in mountain-folds.

Mountains and Valleys.—Mountain-ranges are great obstacles to commerce and intercommunication. The Greek peoples found it much easier to scatter along the Mediterranean coast than to cross the Balkan Mountains. For twenty years after the settlement of California, it was easier and less expensive to send traffic by way of Cape Horn than to carry it across the Rocky Mountains.

The deep canyons of mountainous regions are quite as difficult to overcome as the high ranges. In modern methods of transportation a range that cannot be surmounted may be tunnelled, and a tunnel five or six miles in length is no uncommon feat of engineering. A canyon, however, cannot be tunnelled, and if too wide for cantilever or suspension bridges, a detour of many miles is necessary. In crossing a deep chasm the route of transportation may aggregate ten or fifteen times the distance spanned by a straight line.

Excepting the mining regions, the population of mountainous countries is apt to be found mainly in the intermontane valleys. A reason for this is not hard to find; the valleys are usually filled with rich soil brought from the higher slopes and levelled by the water. The population, therefore, is concentrated in the valley because of the food-producing power of the land. For this reason the Sound, Willamette, and San Joaquin-Sacramento Valleys contain the chief part of the Pacific coast population. The Shenandoah and the Great Valley of Virginia are similar instances.

What is true of the larger intermontane valleys is true also of the narrow stream valleys of mountain and plateau regions. Thus, in the New England plateau the chief growth during the past forty years has been in the valley lands. In that time if the uplands have not suffered actual loss, they certainly have made no material gains. Upland farming has not proved a remunerative venture, and many of the farms have either been abandoned or converted to other uses.

Passes.—Transverse valleys form very important topographic features of mountain-regions. Inasmuch as the ranges themselves are obstacles to communication, it follows that the latter must be concentrated at such cross valleys or gaps as may be traversed. Khaibar Pass, a narrow defile in the Hindu Kush Mountains, between Peshawur and Jelalabad, for many years was the chief gateway between Europe and India. Even now the cost of holding it is an enormous tax upon England.

Brenner, St. Gotthard, and the Mont Cenis Passes are about the only land channels of commerce between Italy and transalpine Europe, and most of the communication between northern Italy and the rest of Europe is carried on by means of these passes. Every transcontinental railway of the American continent crosses the various highlands by means of gaps and passes, and some of them would never have been built were it not for the existence of the passes. Fremont, South, and Marshall Passes have been of historic importance for half a century.

The Hudson and Champlain Valley played an important part in the history of the colonies a century before the existence of the United States, and its importance as a gateway to eastern Canada is not likely to be lessened. The Mohawk gap was the first practical route to be maintained between the Atlantic seaboard and the food-producing region of the Great Central Plain. It is to-day the most important one. It is so nearly level that the total lift of freight going from Buffalo to tide-water is less than five hundred feet.

Rivers.—River-valleys are closely connected with the economic development of a country. Navigable rivers are free and open highways of communication. In newly settled countries the river is always the least expensive means of carriage, and often it is the only one available for the transportation of heavy goods.

In late years, since the railway has become the chief means for the transportation of commodities, river transportation has greatly declined. The river-valley, however, has lost none of its importance; in most instances it is a naturally levelled and graded route, highly suitable for the tracks of the railway. As a result, outside of the level lands of the Great Central Plain, not far from eighty per cent. of the railway mileage of the United States is constructed along river-valleys.

Plateaus.—Plateaus are usually characterized by broken and more or less rugged surface features. As a rule they are deficient in the amount of rainfall necessary to produce an abundance of the grains and similar food-stuffs, although this is by no means the case with all.

Most plateaus produce an abundance of grass, and cattle-growing is therefore an important industry in such regions. Thus, the plateaus of the Rocky Mountains are famous for cattle, and the same is true of the Mexican and the South American plateaus. The Iberian plateau, including Spain and Portugal, is noted for the merino sheep, which furnish the finest wool known. The plateau of Iran is also noted for its wool, and the rugs from this region cannot be imitated elsewhere in the world.

Plains.—Plains are of the highest importance to life and its activities. Not only do they present fewer obstacles to intercommunication than any other topographic features, but almost always they are deeply covered with the fine rock-waste that forms the chief components of soil. Plains, therefore, contain the elements of nutrition, and are capable of supporting life to a greater extent than either mountains or plateaus. About ninety per cent. of the world's population dwell in the lowland plains.

The Great Central Plain of North America produces more than one-quarter of the world's wheat, and about four-fifths of the corn. The southern part of the great Arctic plain, and its extension, the plains of the Baltic also yield immense quantities of grain and cattle products. The coast-plains of the Atlantic Ocean, on both the American and the European side, are highly productive.

River flood-plains are almost always densely peopled because of their productivity. The bottom-lands of the Mississippi and the Yangtze Rivers are among the chief food-producing regions of the world. Lacustrine plains, the beds of former lakes, are also highly productive regions. The valley of the Red River of the North is an example, and its wheat is of a very high quality.

Fertile coast-plains and lowlands that are adjacent to good harbors, as a rule are the most thickly peopled regions of the world. In many such regions the density of population exceeds two hundred or more per square mile. The reason is obvious. Life seeks that environment which yields the greatest amount of nutrition with the least expenditure of energy.

The study of a good relief map shows that, as a rule, the Pacific Ocean is bordered by a rugged highland, which has a more or less abrupt slope, and a narrow coast-plain. Indeed, the latter is absent for the greater part. The slopes of the Atlantic, on the other hand, are long and gentle—being a thousand miles or more in width throughout the greater part of their extent. The area of productive land is correspondingly great, and the character of the surface features is such that intercommunication is easy.

The result of these conditions is evident. The Atlantic slopes, though not everywhere the most densely peopled areas, contain the great centres of the world's activities and economies. In the past 400 years they have not only overtaken the Pacific coast races, but have far surpassed them. They are now entering upon a commercial invasion of the Pacific nations that is resulting in a reorganization of the entire industrial world.

Topography and Trade Routes.—As the settlement and commerce of a country grow, roads succeed trails, and trails are apt to follow the paths of migrating animals. Until the time of the Civil War in the United States, most of the great highways of the country were the direct descendants of "buffalo roads," as they were formerly called.

In the crossing of divides from one river-valley to another, the mountain-sections of the railways for the greater part follow the trails of the bison. This is especially marked in the Pennsylvania, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Chesapeake and Ohio railways; in some instances the tunnels through ranges have been constructed directly under the trails. The reason is obvious; the instinct of the bison led him along routes having the minimum of grade.

Throughout the Mississippi Valley and the great plains the Indian trails usually avoided the bottom-lands of the river-valleys, following the divides and portages instead. This selection of routes was probably due to the fact that the lowlands were swampy and subject to overflow; the portages and divides offered no steep grades, and were therefore more easily traversed.

Harbors.—Coast outlines have much to do with the commercial possibilities of a region. The "drowned valleys" and similar inlets along the North Atlantic coast, both of Europe and America, form harbors in which vessels ride at anchor in safety, no matter what the existing conditions outside may be. As a result, the two greatest centres of commerce in the world are found at these harbors—one on the American, the other on the European coast.

From New York Bay southward along the Atlantic seaboard there are but few harbors, and this accounts for the enormous development of commerce in the stretch of coast between Portland and Baltimore. San Francisco Bay and the harbors of Puget Sound monopolize most of the commerce of the Pacific coast of the United States. South America has several good harbors on the Atlantic seaboard, and in consequence a large city has grown at the site of each. On the Pacific coast the good harbors are very few in number, and they are not situated near productive regions.

Asiatic peoples, as a rule, are not promoters of foreign commerce, and, those of Japan excepted, the only good harbors are those that have been improved by European governments. These are confined mainly to India and China. The many possible harbors make certain a tremendous commerce in the future. Africa has but very few good harbors. There are excellent harbors in the islands of the Pacific, and many of them are of great strategic value as coaling stations and bases of supply to the various maritime powers.


The Pennsylvania Railroad has found it more economical to tunnel the mountain-range under Horseshoe Curve, near Altoona, than to haul the trains over the mountains; discuss the details in which there will be a saving.

Why are rugged and mountainous regions apt to be sparsely peopled?

The first valuable discovery in the Rocky Mountains was gold; what were the chief effects that resulted?

Would the industries of the Pacific coast of the United States be benefited or impaired by the existence of a coast-plain?

Which are more conducive to commerce—the large mediterraneans, such as the Gulf of Mexico, or the small estuaries, such as New York Bay? Discuss the merits or demerits of each.

What are the chief products of mountains, of plateaus, of lowland plains?


Adams's New Empire—Chapter I.

Redway's Physical Geography—Chapter IV.

A topographic map of the United States.



In its effect upon life and the various industries of peoples, climate is a factor even more important than topography. Of the 53,000,000 square miles of the land surface of the earth, scarcely more than one-half is capable of producing any great amount of food-stuffs, and only a very small area can support a population of more than one hundred people to each square mile.

Climate and Habitability.—In the main, regions that are inhabited by human beings produce either food-stuffs or something of value that may be exchanged for food-stuffs; and inasmuch as food and shelter are the chief objects of human activity, regions that will not furnish them are not habitable.

The growth and production of food-stuffs is governed even more by conditions of climate than by those of topography. Thus the great Russian plain is too cold to produce any great amount of food-stuffs, and it is, therefore, sparsely peopled. The northern part of Africa and the closed basins of North America and Asia lack the rainfall necessary to insure productivity, and these regions are also unhabitable. The basin of the Amazon has a rainfall too great for cereals and grasses, and the larger part of it is unfit for habitation.

All the food-stuffs are exceedingly sensitive to climate. Rice will not grow where swampy conditions do not prevail at least during part of the year. Turf-grass will not live where there are repeated droughts of more than three months' duration, and corn will not ripen in regions having cool nights. Wheat does not produce a kernel fit for flour anywhere except in the temperate zone; and the banana will not grow outside the torrid zone.

The two chief factors of climate are temperature and moisture. No forms of life can withstand a temperature constantly below the freezing-point of water, and but few, if any, can endure a constant heat of one hundred and twenty-five degrees, although most species can exist at temperatures beyond these limits for a short time.

Zones of Climate.—The belt of earth upon which the sun's rays are nearly or quite vertical is comparatively narrow. But the inclination of the earth's axis and the fact that it is parallel to itself at all times of the year create zones of climate. These differ materially in the character of the life, forms, and the activities of the people who dwell in them.

In the torrid zone the temperature varies but little. During the season of rains it rarely falls to 70 deg. F., and in the dry season it is seldom higher than 95 deg. F. As a result, all sorts of plants that are sensitive to low temperatures thrive in the torrid zone. It is not a climate suitable for heat-producing food-plants, and they are not required.

The constant heat and excessive moisture of the atmosphere in the torrid zone is apt to produce a feeling of lassitude among the dwellers in such regions, moreover, and great bodily activity is out of question. These conditions seriously affect the lives of the people, and, with few exceptions, tropical peoples are rarely noted for energy or enterprise. Great commercial enterprises are the exception rather than the rule, and they are usually carried on by foreigners who must live a part of the time in cooler localities.

Polar regions are deficient both in the heat and light necessary for food-stuffs. Neither the grasses nor the grains fructify. As a result, but few herbivora can live there, and these are practically restricted to the musk-ox and the reindeer, which subsist on mosses and lichens. The native people are stunted in growth; their food consists mainly of raw blubber, and they are scarcely above savagery.

The temperate zones are the regions of the great industries and activities of human life. The larger part of the land surface of the earth is situated in these zones; moreover, the people who dominate the world also live in them, and their supremacy is due largely to conditions of climate. The alternation of summer and winter causes a struggle for existence that develops the intellectual faculties and results in industrial supremacy.

Effects of Altitude.—There is a decrease of temperature of 1 deg. F. for about every three hundred feet of ascent. But few people live at an altitude of more than six thousand feet above sea-level, and in many cases they depend on other localities for the greater part of their food-stuffs, because very few of such regions produce food-stuffs abundantly.

The chief exceptions to this rule are found in tropical regions. The highlands of Mexico, the plateau-regions of Bolivia and Ecuador, and the highlands of southern Asia are habitable, but they are not densely peopled. Because of their altitude they are relieved of the enervating effects of tropical climate at the sea-level.

Altitude likewise affects the amount of rainfall. Most plateaus are arid. As a rule, they are arid because of their altitude; and because of their aridity they are deficient in their power to produce food-stuffs. They are therefore sparsely peopled.

Effects of Rainfall.—Regions having considerably more than one hundred inches of rain annually are very apt to be forest-covered, and therefore to be deficient in food-producing plants. Such localities have usually a sparse population, in spite of the profusion of vegetation. In some parts of India, lands that have been left idle for a few seasons produce such a dense jungle of wild vegetation that to reclaim them for cultivation is wellnigh impossible.

A deficiency of rainfall is even a greater factor in restricting the density of population than too much rain. With less than fifteen or twenty inches a year few regions produce good crops of grains and grasses, and as a result they are sparsely peopled. Some of the exceptions, however, are important. If the rainfall is not quite enough to produce a normal overflow to the sea, the soil may be very rich, because the nutrition is not leached out and carried away.

Many small areas of this character produce enormous crops when artificially watered, and many of them, such as Persia, parts of Asia Minor, northern Utah, and large areas of Australia and Chile have become regions of considerable commercial importance. The products of such regions are apt to be unique in character and of unusual value. Thus, the wool of Persia and Australia and the fruit of the Iberian peninsula are important articles of commerce.

In Egypt one may see the results of irrigated lands. The area of geographical Egypt is somewhat less than half a million square miles; the habitable part of the country is confined to a narrow strip, which, one or two places excepted, varies from three to six miles in width. In other words, almost the whole population of the country is massed in the flood-plain and delta of the Nile; the remaining part is a desert producing practically nothing.

The water that makes these lands productive falls, not in Egypt, but in the highlands of Abyssinia, 2,000 miles away. The September overflow of the flood-plain is the chief factor in the irrigation of these lands, but the area has been greatly increased by the construction of barrages and dams at Assiut and Assuan.

In the western highland region of the United States considerable areas already have been made productive by irrigation, and it is estimated that about two million acres of barren land can be reclaimed by impounding the waters of the various streams now running to waste.

The distribution of rain with respect to the season in which it falls is quite as important as its distribution with respect to quantity. In tropical regions the ocean winds, and therefore the rainfall, come from the east. The eastern slopes of such regions, therefore, have a season in which rains may be expected daily, and another in which no rain falls for several months. In the temperate zones seasonal rains for a similar reason are on the western coasts.

Thus on the Pacific coast of the United States the rainfall varies from about one hundred inches in southern Alaska to about twelve in San Diego, Cal. Practically all the rain falls between October and the following May; very little or none falls in the interval between May and October. As a result, ordinary turf-grass, which will not withstand long droughts, grows in only a few localities of the Pacific slope. It is replaced by hardier grasses whose roots, instead of forming turf, grow very deep in the soil.

Common clover will not grow in this region unless irrigated; it is replaced by burr-clover, a variety of the plant that will not thrive in moist regions. Now the quality of the merino wool clip of California depends in no slight degree upon the burr-clover and other food-products that thrive in regions of seasonal rains; that is, a great commercial industry exists because of this feature of rainfall, and it could not long survive in spite of it.

The seasonal rainfall also affects other agricultural industries. The sacked wheat-crop may be left in the field without cover or protection until the time is convenient for shipping it. The absence of summer rains makes possible in California what would be out of question in the Mississippi Valley, where a rainstorm may be expected every few days.

The quality of certain fruits depends largely on the season during which the rainfall occurs. Apples, pears, and grapes grown in regions having dry summers have usually a very superior flavor. The raisin-making industry of California also depends on the same condition, because, in order to insure a good quality of the product, the bunches of grapes, after picking, must be dried on the ground. To a certain extent this is also true of other fruits, such as dates, figs, and prunes, which frequently are sun-dried.

The presence of large bodies of water, which both absorb and give out their heat very slowly, tempers the climate of the nearby land and to that extent modifies the commerce of such districts. The grape-growing industry of central New York is a great one and its product is famous. Its existence depends almost wholly upon the lake-tempered climate. Elsewhere in the State the industry is on a precarious basis, and the product is inferior.

Effects of Inclination of the Earth's Axis.—The inclination and self-parallelism of the earth's axis is undoubtedly a very important factor in climate. Practically it more than doubles the width of the belts of ordinary food-stuffs by lengthening the summer day in the temperate zone. Beyond the tropics the obliquity of the sun's rays are more than balanced by the increased length of time in which they fall.

Thus, in the latitude of St. Paul, the longest day is about fifteen and one-half hours long; at Liverpool it is nearly seventeen hours long; a greater number of heat units therefore are received in these latitudes during summer than are received in equatorial regions during the twelve-hour day. Moreover, the summer temperature is higher in these latitudes than in the torrid zone, because the sun is shining upon them for a greater length of time.

The result of these various influences is far-reaching. Because of the long summer days and short nights, wheat can be cultivated to the sixtieth parallel. Corn, which gets scarcely enough warmth and light in the torrid zone to become a prolific crop, attains its greatest yield in the latitude of fourteen-hour days.

These factors, it is evident, carry the grain and meat industries into regions that otherwise would not be habitable. Because the long summer days produce these great food-crops, commerce and its allied industries have reached their maximum development in these regions. Human activities are greatest in the zones bounded by the thirty-fifth and fifty-fifth parallels, the zone that includes the greater parts of the United States, Europe, China, Japan. They are greatest, moreover, because of their geographical position.


What would be the probable effect on the food-crops of the United States were the main body of the country moved twenty degrees north in latitude? Which would then be the wheat-growing States, the cotton-producing States?

Illustrate the connection between occupation and altitude above sea-level.

What difference would it make to the corn-crop were the days and nights always twelve hours long?

What would be requisite to make Canada a centre of silk production?

Why is not cod-fishing an industry off the east coast of Florida?

Why is the greater part of the Russian Empire destined to be sparsely peopled?


A rain chart of the world.

A chart of isothermal lines.



Of all the adjustments which come into the lives of a people none has been so far-reaching as the gradual localization of industries each in the region best adapted to it. For instance, manufacturing industries require power, but not fertile soil; therefore the manufacturing industries seek nearness to fuel or to water-power, and a position available for quick transportation.

Farming does not require any great amount of natural power; on the contrary, level land having a great depth of fertile soil is the essential feature. The farmer must therefore look first of all to conditions of topography and climate, and secondly to the means of transporting his crop.

Mining cannot be an industry in regions destitute of minerals; the miner must therefore go where the mineral wealth is found, without regard to climate, soil, centres of population, or topography. But two things are required—the mineral products and the means of getting them to the people—that is, ready means of transportation.

A century or more ago, each centre of population in the United States was practically self-sustaining. Each grew its own food-stuffs, and manufactured the articles used in the household. But very little was required in the way of transportation. The means of carriage were mainly ox-carts, pack-horses, and rafts. There was a mutual independence among the various centres, it is true, but the independence was at the expense of civilization and the comforts of life.

Beyond an independence that is more apparent than real, such a plan of social and industrial organization has but little in it to commend. Intercommunication increases knowledge, and under the conditions that formerly prevailed, there was a lack of the breadth of knowledge that comes with the mutual contact of peoples.

The utilization of national resources, such as the productiveness of the land, the existence of iron ore, coal, copper, and other economic minerals, finally brought about the policy of a territorial division of industries. This, in turn, made the prompt transportation and exchange of commodities essential; indeed, without such a plan, industrial centres could not long exist.

The man whose sole business is manufacture must look to others for his supply of food-stuffs and raw materials, and these are produced more economically at a distance from the centre of manufacture. Thus England must look to the United States for wheat and cotton, to the Australian Commonwealth for wool, and to New Zealand and the United States for meat. Her chief wealth is in her coal and iron, and these make the nation a great manufacturing centre. So, also, the manufacturer of New York must go to Pittsburg for steel, to Minneapolis for flour, and to Chicago for beef.

The application of this principle is very broad; it is the foundation of all commerce, and it underlies modern civilization. For this reason the question of transportation is just as important to a community as the industries of agriculture, mining, and manufacture. Food-stuffs are of no use unless they can be transported to the people who want them; nor can peoples remain in unproductive regions unless the food-stuffs are brought to them.

The gross tonnage of goods is transported mainly in one or another or all of three ways—namely, by animal power, by railway, or by water. Thus, the cotton-crop of the United States is usually transported by wagon from the plantation to the nearest station or boat-landing; by rail or by barge to the nearest seaport; and by ocean steamship to the foreign seaport.

Water transportation is more economical than land carriage, for the reason that less power is required to move a given tonnage through the water than on the most perfectly graded railway. Steamship freights, as a rule, are lower than those of sailing-vessels, because a steamship has more than twice the speed, and, being larger, can carry a greater tonnage. Freight rates on the Great Lakes are higher per ton-mile than on the ocean, because the vessels are necessarily smaller than those built for ocean traffic. For a similar reason, river and canal freights are higher than lake freights. Railway transportation is economical, partly because a single locomotive will draw an enormous weight of goods, and partly because of the high speed at which the goods move from point to point. Animal transportation is more expensive than any other means ordinarily employed.

Ocean Transportation.—In many respects, water-routes form the most available and economical methods of transportation. Intercontinental commerce must be carried on by means of deep-water vessels. Therefore an extraordinary development of ocean carriers has taken place in the past century.

One important period of development began with the rise of American commerce. Just after the close of the War for Independence, it was found that deep-water ships could be built of New England timber for thirty-five dollars per ton, rated tonnage, while a vessel of the same burden built in Europe cost about forty-five dollars per unit of tonnage. Two types of vessels came into use—one, the clipper ship with square sails, was used for long ocean voyages; the other, the schooner, with fore-and-aft rigging, was employed mainly in the coast-trade.

In speed and ease of management these vessels surpassed anything that had ever sailed. In time they became the standards for the sailing-vessels of all the great commercial nations. The types of the vessels are still standards.

The Development of the Steamship.—Another important era in ocean commerce began when steam was used as a motive power for vessels. The first deep-water vessel thus to be propelled was the Savannah. Her steam-power was merely incidental, however, and her paddle-wheels were unshipped and taken aboard when there was enough wind for sailing. Up to 1860 almost all the ocean steamships were side-wheelers, propelled by low-pressure beam-engines.

The next most important improvement was the screw-blade propeller, placed astern. This means of propulsion called for higher speed of the engines, and in a very short time compactly built high-pressure engines took the place of the low-pressure engine with its heavy walking-beam. The latter carried steam at a pressure varying from twenty to thirty-two pounds; the modern boiler has steam at 260 pounds per square inch.

Ocean steamships have gradually evolved into two types. The freighter, broad in beam and capacious, is built to carry an enormous amount of freight at a moderate speed. The White Star liner Celtic is a vessel of this class; her schedule time between New York and Liverpool is about nine days. The Philadelphia of the American line, though not the fastest steamship, makes the same trip in an average time of five and one-half days.[7]

Twin-screws, instead of a single propeller, are employed on nearly all the large liners. The gain in speed is not greatly increased, but the vessel is far more manageable with two screws than with one; moreover, if one engine breaks down, the vessel can make excellent time with the other.

Triple-expansion engines are almost universally used on modern steamships, and a pound of coal now makes about three times as much steam available as in the engines formerly used. As a result a bushel of wheat is now carried from Fargo, N. Dak., to Liverpool for about twenty-one cents—less than one-half the freight tariff of 1876.

The fastest liners consume from three hundred and fifty to more than four hundred tons of coal a day, and for each additional knot of speed the amount of coal burned must be greatly increased. Freighters like the Celtic consume scarcely more than half as much as those of the Kaiser Wilhelm II. type.

Sailing-Craft.—In spite of the growth and development of steam-navigation, a large amount of freight is still carried by sailing-craft; moreover, it is not unlikely that the relative proportion of ocean freight carried by sailing-vessels will increase rather than decrease, especially in the case of imperishable freight.

The square-rigged ship, or bark, has been very largely replaced by the fore-and-aft, or schooner-rigged vessel. A large full-rigged ship requires a crew of thirty to thirty-six men; a schooner-rigged vessel needs from sixteen to twenty. These vessels are commonly built with three and four masts; some of the largest have six or seven. They carry as many as five thousand tons of freight at a speed of about ten knots—only a trifle less than that of an ordinary tramp freighter. Some of the larger vessels are provided with auxiliary engines and propelling apparatus, which enables them to enter or to leave port without the assistance of a tug. Donkey-engines hoist and lower the sails, and perform the work of loading and unloading. They are admirable colliers and grain-carriers.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, about ninety thousand sailing-craft and thirty-five thousand steam-vessels were required to carry the world's commerce. Of this number, Great Britain and her colonies register nearly thirty-five thousand, and the United States over twenty thousand.

HARBOR SAFEGUARDS.—Excepting the open anchorages formed by angles in coast-lines, the greater number of harbors consist of small coves and river-mouths. In these, although there may be a considerable area of water, there is not apt to be much sailing room; it is therefore necessary to mark off the navigable channels. For this purpose buoys of different shapes and colors are used by day; by night fixed and flashing lights are employed.

The buoys of permanent channels are usually hollow metal cylinders or cones about two feet in diameter, anchored so that the end of the cylinder projects about three feet above the water. On entering a channel from the seaward, red buoys are on the starboard, or right hand; white buoys are kept on the port, or left side. Buoys at the end of a channel are usually surmounted each by some device or other fastened at the upper end of a perch. Thus, at the outer entrance of Gedney Channel in New York Harbor, a ball surmounts the perch; at the inner entrance the buoy carries a double square. Sharp angles in a channel are similarly marked. In many instances the buoy carries, as a warning signal, a bell that rings as the buoy is rocked by the waves; in others, a whistle that sounds by the air which the rocking motion compresses within the cylinder; still others carry electric or gas lights.

The color of a buoy is an index of its character. Thus, one with black and red stripes indicates danger; one with black and white vertical stripes is a channel-marker. Temporary channels are frequently marked by pieces of spar floating upright. In some cases it is customary to set untrimmed tree-tops on the port, and trimmed sticks on the starboard.

Light-houses are built at all exposed points of navigated coast-waters, and beacons are set at all necessary points within a harbor for use at night. All lights are kept burning from sunset until sunrise. The color, the duration, and the intervals of flashing indicate the position of the beacon. In revolving lights the beams, concentrated by powerful lenses, sweep the horizon as the lantern about the light revolves. Flashing lights are produced when the light is obscured at given intervals. Fixed lights burn with a steady flame. In some instances a sector of colored glass is set so as to cover a given part of a channel. Range lights, set so that one shows directly above the other, are used as channel-markers.

The use of lights may be seen as a vessel enters New York Lower Bay. A steamship drawing not more than eighteen feet of water may enter through Swash Channel (follow the course on the chart). In this case the pilot makes for Scotland lightship, and merely keeps New Dorp and Elmtree beacons in range, giving Dry Romer a wide berth to starboard, until Chapel Hill and Conover beacons come into range on his port side. The vessel is then held on a course between Coney Island and Fort Tompkins lights until Robbins Reef light shows ahead.

For the liners that draw more than eighteen feet the task is more difficult, inasmuch as the channel is tortuous. At Sandy Hook lightship a course lying nearly west takes the vessel to the outer entrance of Gedney Channel, marked by two buoy-lights. In passing between the lights the vessel enters the channel, which is also covered by the red sector of Hook beacon. The pilot continues between the buoy-lights until Waacaack and Point Comfort beacons are in range, and steers to this range until South Beacon and Sandy Hook light are in range astern. The helm is then turned, keeping these lights in range astern until Chapel Hill and Conover beacons are in range on the port bow. Turning northward nearly eight points, the pilot holds the bow of the vessel between Fort Tompkins and Coney Island lights, keeping sharply to his range astern, until Robbins Reef light comes into view through the narrows. From this point on, the shore lights are the pilot's chief guide.

So difficult are harbor entrances, that in most cases the underwriters will not insure a vessel unless the latter is taken from the outer harbor to the dock by a licensed pilot, and the latter must spend nearly half a lifetime as an apprentice before he receives a license. The charges for pilotage are usually regulated by the number of feet the vessel draws. The charges differ in various ports, but the devices for marking and lighting the channels are much the same in every part of the world. In the United States all navigable channels are under the control of the general Government.

Inland Waters.—Lakes, rivers, and canals furnish a very important means of transportation. In Europe and Canada an enormous amount of slow freight is transported by their use; in China they are the most important means of internal traffic.

In the United States the Great Lakes with the Erie Canal and Hudson River form the most important internal water-way, and by them the continent is penetrated as far west as Duluth, a distance of more than one thousand three hundred miles. The traffic passing out of Lake Superior alone is about one-third greater than that passing out of the Mediterranean Sea at the Suez Canal. Much of this traffic goes across the continent, and the route in question is one of the great commercial highways of the world.

The Mississippi River and its branches afford not far from ten thousand miles of navigable waters. Canals connect tributaries of this river with the Great Lakes at Chicago and at several points in Ohio. The development of the navigation of this great water-way was checked by the Civil War, and after the close of the war the great advance in railway building kept its improvement in the background. The general government, nevertheless, has done much to encourage the use of the Mississippi as a commercial highway, and many millions of dollars have been spent in widening and deepening its channel.[8] On the upper river grain and lumber form the chief traffic; on the lower part a large part of the world's cotton-crop starts on its journey to the various markets.

On account of the soft-coal fields and the steel manufacture in western Pennsylvania, the commerce of the Ohio River is very heavy, aggregating not far from fifteen million tons yearly. Much of this traffic extends to ports on the Mississippi.

The navigable parts of the Hudson and Delaware Rivers are estuaries of the sea or "drowned valleys." In each case navigation extends about to the limits of high tide. Both rivers carry a heavy freight commerce; the Hudson has a passenger traffic of several million fares each year. Nearly every river of the Atlantic coast is navigable to the limit of high tide or a little beyond. Navigation extends to the point where the coast-plain joins the foot-hills. Above this limit, called the "Fall Line," the streams are swift and shallow; below it they are deep and sluggish. As a result, a chain of important river ports extends along the Fall Line from Maine to Florida.

River-navigation in Europe in the main is inseparably connected with the great canal systems. As a rule, the lower parts of the rivers are navigable for steamboats of light draught. Some of the smaller streams are made navigable by means of a long steel chain, which is laid along the bed of the stream; the boat engages the chain by means of heavy sprocket wheels driven by steam, and thus wind the boat up and down the river.

Ocean steamers penetrate the Amazon Valley to a distance of one thousand miles from its mouth; boats of light draught ascend the main stream and some of its tributaries a thousand miles farther. The Orinoco is navigable within one hundred miles of Bogota. Light-draught boats ascend the tributaries of La Plata River a distance of fifteen hundred miles.

The Asian rivers that are important highways of commerce are few in number. The Amur, Yangtze, Indus, and Cambodia have each considerable local commerce. The Hugli, a channel in the delta of the Ganges, has a channel deep enough for ocean steamships. The tributaries of the Lena, Yenisei, and Ob have been of the greatest service in the commercial development of northern Asia from the fact that their valleys are both level and fertile.

Because of a high interior and abrupt slopes, the rivers of Africa are not suitable for navigation to any considerable extent; the channels are uncertain and the rivers are interrupted by rapids. The Nile has an occasional steamboat service as far as the "First Cataract," but in high water the service is sometimes extended farther. The Kongo has a long stretch of navigable water, but is interrupted by rapids below Stanley Pool. Similar conditions obtain in the Zambezi. The lower part of the Senegal affords good navigation. The Niger has in many respects greater commercial possibilities than other rivers of Africa. It is navigable to a distance of three hundred miles.

Canals.—Canals easily rank among the most important means of traffic, as a rule, supplementing other navigable waters. Thus, by means of an elaborate system of canals, goods are transferred by water, from one river-basin to another, so that practically all the navigable streams of western Europe are connected. Canals are extensively used to avoid the falls or rapids that separate the various reaches of rivers. The water itself by means of locks lifts the boat to a higher level or transfers it to a lower reach, thus saving the expense of unloading, transferring, and reloading a cargo.

The manner in which canals supplement the obstructed navigation of a river is seen in the case of the St. Lawrence. This river is obstructed in several places by rapids, but by means of canals steamship service connects the Great Lakes, not only with Quebec, but with ports of the Mediterranean Sea as well; indeed, it is possible to send a cargo from Duluth, at the head of Lake Superior, to Odessa or Batum, on the shores of the Black Sea.

The internal water-ways of Canada have been splendidly developed. The Canadian St. Marys Canal furnishes an outlet to Lake Superior for vessels drawing twenty-one feet. The Welland Canal connects Lakes Erie and Ontario. The Rideau Canal and River connect Kingston and Lake Ontario with the Ottawa, and the latter with its canals is navigable to the St. Lawrence. With a population of less than six millions the Dominion Government has spent nearly one hundred million dollars in the improvement of internal water-ways.

In the United States the possible development of canals has been neglected and, to a certain extent, stifled by railway building. The Erie Canal, built before the advent of the railway, connects Lake Erie with tide-water at Albany, a distance of 387 miles. For many years it was the chief means of traffic between the Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic seaboard, and although paralleled by the six tracks of a great railway system, it is still an important factor in the carriage of grain and certain classes of slow freight.[9] The level way that made the canal possible is largely responsible for the decline of its importance, for the absence of steep grades enables a powerful locomotive to haul so many cars that the quick transit more than overbalances a very low ton rate by the canal.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, designed to connect the Mississippi Valley with the Atlantic seaboard, fared much worse than the Erie Canal. Less than two hundred miles have been completed, and practically no work except that of repair has been done since 1850; the heavy grades between Cumberland and Pittsburg render its completion improbable.

An excellent system of canals, the Ohio and Erie and the Miami and Erie, connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie. These canals are in the State of Ohio and aggregate about six hundred miles in length. They are important as coal and ore carriers. Several hundred miles of canals were built along the river-valleys of eastern Pennsylvania before 1840 for carrying coal to tide-water. Most of them have been abandoned; one, the Delaware & Hudson Canal Co., survives as a railway. Inasmuch as the coal went on a down grade from the mines to the markets, it could be carried more economically by railway than by canal.

Of far greater importance are the St. Marys Canal on the Canadian side, and the St. Marys Falls Canal on the American side, of St. Marys River. These canals obviate the falls in St. Marys River and form the commercial outlet of Lake Superior. The tonnage of goods, mainly iron ore and coal, is about one-half greater than that of the Suez Canal. About twenty-five thousand vessels pass through these canals yearly.

The Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal,[10] from Lake Michigan to Lockport, on the Illinois River, was designed mainly to carry the sewage of Chicago which, prior to the construction of the canal, was poured into the lake through the Chicago River. The completion of the canal turned the course of the river and caused the water to flow out of the lake, carrying the city's sewage. It is intended to complete a navigable water-way from Chicago to St. Louis deep enough for vessels drawing fourteen feet. Its value is therefore strategic as well as industrial, for by means of it gun-boats may readily pass from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.

Oceanic canals are designed both for naval strategic purposes and for industrial uses. Thus, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, from the mouth of the Elbe to Kiel Bay, across the base of Jutland, saves two days between Hamburg and the Baltic ports. It also enables German war-vessels to concentrate quickly in either the North or the Baltic Sea. The Manchester Ship Canal makes Manchester a seaport and saves the cost of trans-shipping freights by rail from Liverpool. The Corinth Canal across the isthmus that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece affords a much shorter route between Italian ports and Odessa. The North Holland Ship Canal makes Amsterdam practically a seaport.

Probably no other highway of commerce since the discovery of the Cape route around Africa has caused such a great change and readjustment of trade between Europe and Asia as the Suez Canal. Sailing-vessels still take the Cape route, because the heavy towage tolls through the canal more than offset the gain in time. Steamships have their own power and generally take the canal route, thereby saving about ten days in time and fuel, and about four thousand eight hundred miles in distance. In spite of the heavy tolls the saving is considerable. About three thousand five hundred vessels pass through the canal yearly.

The Suez Canal, constructed by Ferdinand de Lesseps, for some time was under the control of French capitalists. Subsequently, by the purchase of stock partly in open market and partly from the Khedive of Egypt, the control of the canal passed into the hands of the English. The restrictions placed upon the passage of war-ships is such that the canal would be of little use to nations at war.

The necessity of an interoceanic canal across the American continent has become more imperative year by year for fifty years. The discovery of gold in California caused an emigration from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast which resulted in a permanent settlement of the latter region. A railway across the Isthmus of Panama and another across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec have afforded very poor means of communication between oceans.

In 1881 work on a tide-level canal across the Isthmus of Panama was begun, but the plan was afterward changed to a high-level canal. The change was thought necessary partly on account of the great cost of the former, and partly because of the difficulties of constructing so deep a cut—about three hundred and forty feet—at the summit of the Culebra ridge. The construction company, after spending the entire capital—about one hundred and twenty million dollars—in accomplishing one-tenth of the work, became bankrupt. The United States subsequently purchased the franchise.

A canal by way of Lake Nicaragua has also been projected, and two treaties with Great Britain, whereby the United States agreed to build no fortifications to guard it, have been made. No work beyond the surveys has yet been undertaken, however. The cost of each canal is estimated between one hundred and fifty million and two hundred million dollars. The Panama route will require about twelve hours for the passage of a vessel; the Nicaragua route about sixty hours.[11] (See map, p. 270.)

The completion of a canal by either route will cause a readjustment of the world's commerce far greater than that which followed the construction of the Suez Canal. By such a route San Francisco is brought nearer to London than Calcutta now is, and the all-water route between the Atlantic ports of the United States and those of China and Japan will be shortened by upward of eight thousand miles. The importance of the Hawaiian Islands, already a great ocean depot, will be greatly increased, and the latter is becoming one of the great commercial stations of the world.


What were some of the effects which resulted from the various embargo and non-intercourse acts that preceded the war of 1812?

What is the effect upon an industry when all means of getting the products to market are cut off?

In the early history of the country rivers were the most important highways of commerce; obtain an account of some instance of this in detail.

Certain commodities have been carried about four-fifths of the distance between Moscow and Vladivostok by water, across Siberia. Illustrate this, using the map of the Russian Empire, plate, p. 342.

What has been the effect of cheap steel on ocean navigation?

Discuss the difference between a screw-steamship and a side-wheeler; a ship and a schooner. How are vessels steered?

How does a triple-expansion engine differ from an ordinary steam-engine?

Cargoes are carried by water across Europe from Havre to Marseilles, and from The Hague to the mouth of the Danube; illustrate the route on a map of Europe.

The following instruction occasionally is found in the pilothouse of a vessel—what is its meaning?

"Green to green and red to red— Perfect safety; go ahead."

From the chart on p. 49 show how a pilot uses the range lights in entering New York Harbor.

The new freighter Minnesota is designed to carry a load of 30,000 tons; how many trains of fifty cars, each car holding 30,000 pounds, are required to furnish her cargo?

From the map on pp. x-xi describe the new ocean routes that will be created by an interoceanic canal across the American continent.


Photographs or illustrations of various steam and sailing craft.

An Atlantic Coast Pilot Chart—any month.

A map showing the canals of the United States.

A map showing the canals of Europe.



In the United States and western Europe, in spite of the low cost of water transportation, the railways have almost wholly monopolized the transportation of commodities. This is due in part to the saving of time in transit—for under the demands of modern business, the only economy is economy of time—and in part to prompt delivery at the specified time.

Into a large centre of population like New York, London, or Berlin, many millions of pounds of perishable food-stuffs must be brought daily for consumption. Now these food-stuffs must be delivered with promptness, and no delay can be tolerated. A shipper having half a million pounds of meat or a hundred thousand pounds of flour or a car-load of fruit to deliver can take no risks; he sends it by rail, not only because it is the quickest way, but because experience has shown it to be the most prompt way; as a rule, it is delivered on the exact minute of schedule time.

Cargoes of silks and teas from China and Japan might be sent all the way to London by water, but experience has shown a more profitable way. The consignments are sent by swift steamships to Seattle; thence by fast express trains to New York; there they are transferred to swift liners that take them across the Atlantic to European ports. And although this method of shipment is enormously expensive as compared with the all-water route, the saving of time and certainty of prompt delivery more than offset the extra cost of delivery.

In the last half of the nineteenth century the cost of haulage in the United States by rail decreased so materially that in a few instances only—notably the Great Lakes and the Hudson River—do inland waters compete with the railways.[12] This is due in part to better organization of the railways, but mainly to the substitution of Bessemer steel for iron rails and the great improvements in locomotives and rolling stock.

The use of a steam-driven locomotive became possible for the first time when Stephenson used the tubular boiler and the forced draught,[13] thereby making steam rapidly enough for a short, quick stroke. In 1865 a good freight locomotive weighing thirty tons could haul about forty box-cars, each loaded with ten tons. This was the maximum load for a level track; the average load for a single locomotive was about twenty-five or thirty cars. Heavier locomotives could not well be used because the iron rails went to pieces under them.

The invention of Bessemer steel produced a rail that was safe under the pounding of a locomotive three or four times as heavy as those formerly employed; it produced boilers that would carry steam at 250 instead of 60 pounds pressure per square inch. As a result, with only a moderate increase in the fuel burned, a single locomotive on a level track will haul eighty or ninety box-cars, each carrying nearly seventy thousand pounds.[14]

The application of the double and the triple expansion principle has been quite as successful with locomotive as with marine engines in saving fuel and gaining power—that is, it has decreased the cost per ton-mile of hauling freight and likewise the cost of transporting passengers. Enlarged "fire-boxes," or furnaces,[15] enable steam to be made more rapidly and to give higher speed.[16] Only a few years ago forty-eight hours was the scheduled time between New York and Chicago; now there are about forty trains a day between these two cities, several of which make the trip in twenty-four hours or less.

Railway Development.—The railway as a common carrier, having its right by virtue of a government charter, dates from 1801, when a tramway was built between Croydon and Wandsworth, two suburbs of London. The rails were iron straps, nailed to wooden stringers. The charter was carefully drawn in order to prevent the road from competing with omnibus lines and public cabs.

When the steam locomotive succeeded horse-power, however, there followed an era of railway development that in a few years revolutionized the carrying trade in the thickly settled parts of the United States and Europe. Short, independent lines were constructed without any reference whatever to the natural movement of traffic. There seemed but one idea, namely, to connect two cities or towns. Indeed, the absence of a definite plan was much similar to that of the interurban electric roads a century later; local traffic was the only consideration.

At first an opinion prevailed that the road-bed of the railway ought to be a public highway upon which any individual or company might run its own conveyances, on the payment of a fixed toll; indeed, in both Europe and the United States, public opinion could see no difference between the railway and the canal. The employment of a steam-driven locomotive engine, however, made such a plan impossible, and demonstrated that the roads must be thoroughly organized.

At the close of 1850 there were nearly four hundred different railway companies in England; in the United States about a dozen companies were required to make the connection of New York City and Buffalo. A few of these paid dividends; a large majority barely met their operating expenses, defaulting the interest on their bonds; a great many were hopelessly bankrupt.

Consolidation of Connecting Lines.—Between 1850 and 1865 a new feature entered into railway management, namely, the union of connecting lines. This was a positive advantage, for the operating expenses of the sixteen lines, now a part of the New York Central, between New York and Buffalo were scarcely greater than the expenses of one-third that number. The service was much quicker, better, and cheaper. In England the several hundred companies were reduced to twelve; in France the thirty-five or more companies were reduced to six in number.

The consolidation of connecting lines brought about another desirable feature—the extension of the existing lines.[17] The lines of continental Europe were extended eastward to the Russian frontier, and to Constantinople; then the Alps were surmounted. In the United States railway extension was equally great. The Union and Central Pacific railways were opened in 1869, giving the first all-rail route to the Pacific coast. Other routes to the Pacific followed within a few years, one of which, the Canadian Pacific, was built from Quebec to Vancouver.

The period from 1864 was one of extensive railway building both in the United States and Europe. Some of the roads, such as the transalpine railways of Europe and the Pacific roads of the United States, were greatly needed. Others that created new fields of industry by opening to communication productive lands were also wise and necessary; the lands would have been valueless without them. Not a few lines that were to be needed in time were built so far ahead of time that they did not even pay their operating expenses for many years.

Another class of roads was intended for speculative purposes. Thus, there were instances in which a line occupying a given territory had antagonized its patrons by poor service, and extortionate charges. Thereupon another company would obtain a charter—which was then easily done—and build a competing line in the same territory, the former most likely having scarcely enough business for one road.[18] The results were almost always the same; a war of rate-cutting followed; the stockholders of both roads lost heavily; and one or both went into the hands of receivers.

Competition and Pools.—In many instances the consolidation of roads, while cutting off disastrous competition in the territory jointly occupied by the two roads, brought the consolidated road into fierce competition with another adjacent system. If the roads had practically the same territory but different terminals the competition was confined mainly to local traffic. On the other hand, they might have the same terminals but cover different local territories; in this case the roads must compete for through traffic. Thus the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy is brought into competition with the Union Pacific in Nebraska, but inasmuch as the roads have different and widely distant terminals, their local traffic is easily adjusted. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Northwestern have common terminals at Chicago, St. Paul, Denver, Omaha, and Kansas City. They must therefore compete with each other, and with half-a-dozen other roads for their through traffic.

Competition between railways differs greatly from that between two firms. If one of two firms cannot afford to compete, the manager may discharge his help, and close doors; he then does not suffer actual loss. But a railway, being a common carrier, cannot do this; the road must keep its trains moving or lose its charter. If it cannot carry goods at a profit it must carry them at cost or at a loss. Even the latter is better than not carrying them at all, for the operating expenses of the road must go on.

So between 1870 and 1880 most of the railway managements were busy devising ways to stop a rate-cutting and competition that was ruinous. In many instances great trunk lines would have consolidated had not State laws prevented. They could not maintain rates because one or another of the weaker roads would be compelled to lower their rates in order to meet their operating expenses. Therefore they were compelled to do one of three things, namely, to divide the territory, to divide traffic, or to divide earnings. Either of the two latter plans is called a pool.

Of these two forms of pooling the division of the traffic is the easier, but it is often unsatisfactory to the patrons of the road. The second plan, the division of the earnings, is a more difficult matter to adjust because each road is usually dissatisfied with its proportion. As a matter of fact, however, the first plan of pooling is very apt to grow into the second.

In several instances pools have been declared illegal by the courts, but, in general, railway service has been more satisfactory under the pool system than under any other. They have always aroused popular suspicion, however, from the fact that they increase power of the railway itself. In various instances important trunk lines have formed a general company, each having its separate organization, because they could accomplish under a combined organization what they could not as independent companies. The restrictions against pooling have therefore encouraged combination of competing lines.

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