The Railroad Question.
THE RAILROAD QUESTION
A HISTORICAL AND PRACTICAL TREATISE ON RAILROADS, AND REMEDIES FOR THEIR ABUSES
WILLIAM LARRABEE, LATE GOVERNOR OF IOWA.
Salus populi suprema lex.
CHICAGO: THE SCHULTE PUBLISHING COMPANY. 1898.
The people of the United States are engaged in the solution of the railroad problem. The main question to be determined is: Shall the railroads be owned and operated as public or as private property? Shall these great arteries of commerce be owned and controlled by a few persons for their own private use and gain, or shall they be made highways to be kept under strict government control and to be open for the use of all for a fixed, equal and reasonable compensation?
In a new and sparsely settled country which is rich in natural resources there may be no great danger in pursuing a laissez-faire policy in governmental affairs, but as the population of a commonwealth becomes denser, the quickened strife for property and the growing complexity of social and industrial interests make an extension of the functions of the state absolutely necessary to secure protection to property and freedom to the individual.
The American people have shown themselves capable of solving any political question yet presented to them, and the author has no doubt that with full information upon the subject they will find the proper solution of the railroad problem. The masses have an honest purpose and a keen sense of right and wrong. With them a question is not settled until it is settled right.
It must be conceded that of all the great inventions of modern times none has contributed as much to the prosperity and happiness of mankind as the railroad.
Our age is under lasting obligations to Watt and Stephenson and many other heroes of industry who have aided in bringing the railroad to its present state of perfection. Their genius is the product of our civilization, and their legacies should be shared by all the people to the greatest extent possible. An earnest desire to aid in attaining this end has prompted this contribution to the literature on the subject.
The author is not an entire novice in railroad affairs. He has had experience as a shipper and as a railroad promoter, owner and stockholder, and has even had thrust upon him for a short time the responsibility of a director, president and manager of a railroad company. He has, moreover, had every opportunity to familiarize himself with the various phases of the subject during his more than twenty years' connection with active legislation.
He came to the young State of Iowa before any railroad had reached the Mississippi. Engaging early in manufacturing, he suffered all the inconveniences of pioneer transportation, and his experience instilled into him liberal opinions concerning railroads and their promoters. He extended to them from the beginning all the assistance in his power, making not only private donations to new roads, but advocating also public aid upon the ground that railroads are public roads.
As a member of the Iowa Senate he introduced and fathered the bill for the act enabling townships, incorporated towns and cities to vote a five per cent. tax in aid of railroad construction. He favored always such legislation as would most encourage the building of railroads, believing that with an increase of competitive lines the common law and competition could be relied upon to correct abuses and solve the rate problem. He has since become convinced of the falsity of this doctrine, and now realizes the truth of Stephenson's saying that where combination is possible competition is impossible.
It is the object of this work to show that as long as the railroads are permitted to be managed as private property and are used by their managers for speculative purposes or other personal gain, or as long even as they are used with regard only for the interest of stockholders, they are not performing their proper functions; and that they will not serve their real purpose until they become in fact what they are in theory, highways to be controlled by the government as thoroughly and effectually as the common road, the turnpike and the ferry, or the post-office and the custom-house.
This book has been written at such odd hours as the author could snatch from his time, which is largely occupied with other business. He is under obligations to many of our ministers and consuls abroad for statistics and other valuable information concerning foreign railroads, as well as to a number of personal friends for other assistance, consisting chiefly in rendering the railroad literature of Europe accessible to him.
WILLIAM LARRABEE. Clermont, Iowa, May, 1893.
I. HISTORY OF TRANSPORTATION 17
II. THE HISTORY OF RAILROADS 46
III. HISTORY OF RAILROADS IN THE UNITED STATES 76
IV. MONOPOLY IN TRANSPORTATION 90
V. RAILROAD ABUSES 124
VI. STOCK AND BOND INFLATION 163
VII. COMBINATIONS 189
VIII. RAILROADS IN POLITICS 205
IX. RAILROAD LITERATURE 231
X. RAILROAD LITERATURE—Continued 273
XI. RAILROADS AND RAILROAD LEGISLATION IN IOWA 319
XII. THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT 349
XIII. THE RATE QUESTION 370
XIV. REMEDIES 389
APPENDIX—TABLES AND STATISTICS 459
LIST OF AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED AND QUOTED
ACWORTH, W. M. The Railways of England
ADAMS, C. F., JR. Railroads, Their Origin and Problems
ADAMS, H. C. Public Debts
ADAMS, HENRY History of the United States
ATKINSON, EDWARD The Distribution of Products
BAGEHOT, WALTER The English Constitution
BAKER, C. W. Monopolies and the People
BEACH, CHARLES F., JR. On Private Corporations
BLACKSTONE, W. Commentaries on Laws of England
BOISTED, C. A. The Interference Theory of Government
BOLLES, ALBERT S. Bankers' Magazine
BONHAM, JOHN M. Railway Secrecy and Trusts
BRYCE, JAMES The American Commonwealth
BUCKLE, H. T. History of Civilization of England
CAREY, H. C. Principles of Social Science
" " Unity of Law
CARY, M. View of System of Pennsylvania Internal Improvements.
CLOUD, D. C. Monopolies and the People
CLEWS, HENRY Twenty-eight Years in Wall Street
COOLEY, THOMAS M. Constitutional Limitations
COMPILATION OF ENGLISH LAWS UPON RAILWAYS.
DABNEY W. D. The Public Regulation of Railways
DILLON, SIDNEY North American Review
DORN, ALEXANDER Aufgaben der Eisenbahnpolitik
DRAPER, J. W. Intellectual Development of Europe
ENCYCLOPAeDIE (ROeLL'S) DES EISENBAHNWESENS, 1892.
FINDLAY, GEORGE Working and Management of English Railways.
FINK, ALBERT Cost of Railroad Transportation, etc.
FISHER, G. P. Outlines of Universal History
FISK, JOHN American Political Ideas
" " Critical Period of American History
FOREIGN COMMERCE OF AMERICAN REPUBLICS AND COLONIES.
GRAHAM, WM. Socialism Old and New
GIBBON, EDWARD Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
GREEN, JOHN K. History of English People
GILPIN, WM. The Cosmopolitan Railway
GRINNELL, J. B. Men and Events of Forty Years
GUNTON, GEORGE Wealth and Progress
GUIZOT, M. History of Civilization
HABOUR, THEODOR Geschichte des Eisenbahnwesens
HADLEY, A. T. Railway Transportation
HALL'S LIFE OF PRINCE BISMARCK.
HUDSON, J. T. The Railways and the Republic
JEANS, J. S. Railway Problems
JERVIS, JOHN B. Railway Property
JEVONS, W. S. Methods of Social Reform
KENT, JAMES Commentaries on American Law
KIRKMAN, M. M. Railway Rates and Government Control and other works.
LECKEY, W. E. H. England in Eighteenth Century
LIEBER, FRANCIS Political Ethics
" " Civil Liberty and Self-Government
" " Miscellaneous Essays
LODGE, H. C. Life of General Washington
MARTINEAU, HARRIET History of England
MCMASTER, J. B. History of People of United States
MACAULAY, T. B. History of England
MOTLEY, J. L. The Dutch Republic
" " The United Netherlands
PAINE, CHARLES The Elements of Railroading
PATTEN, J. H. Natural Resources of the United States
PEFFER, W. A. The Farmer's Side
POOR'S RAILWAY MANUAL.
PORTER, HORACE North American Review
RAWLINSON, GEORGE Seven Great Monarchies
REDFIELD On Law of Railways
RECORDS OF CENTRAL IOWA TRAFFIC ASSOCIATION, 1886-1887.
RECORDS OF ASSOCIATION OF GENERAL FREIGHT AGENTS OF THE WEST.
RECORDS OF JOINT WESTERN CLASSIFICATION COMMITTEES.
REPORTS OF STATE BOARDS OF COMMISSIONERS.
REPORT OF HEPBURN COMMITTEE.
REPORTS OF UNITED STATES CENSUS.
REPORT OF WINDOM COMMITTEE.
REPORT OF BANKERS' ASSOCIATION, 1892.
REPORT OF CULLOM COMMITTEE.
ROEMER, JEAN Origin of English People, etc.
REUBEAUX, F. Der Weltverkehr und seine Mittel
RICHARDSON, D. N. A Girdle Round the Earth
ROGERS, JAMES E. THOROLD Economic Interpretation of History.
ROSCHER, WM. Political Economy
SCHREIBER Die Preussischen Eisenbahnen
SCHURZ, CARL Life of Henry Clay
SMITH, ADAM Wealth of Nations
SPELLING, T. CARL On Private Corporations
SPENCER, HERBERT Synthetic Philosophy
STERN, SIMON. Constitutional History and Political Development of the United States.
STICKNEY, A. B. The Railroad Problem
STATISTIQUES DES CHEMINS DE FER DE L'EUROPE, 1882.
TAYLOR, HANNIS Origin and Growth of the English Constitution.
THE AMERICAN RAILWAY. Published by Charles Scribner's Sons.
VERSCHOYLE, REV. J. History of Ancient Civilization
VON WEBER, M. M. Privat-, Staats- und Reichs-Bahnen
" " " " Nationalitaet und Eisenbahn Politik
VON DER LEGEN, ALFRED Die Nordamerikanischen Eisenbahnen.
WALKER, ALDACE F. The Forum
WEEDEN, W. B. Economic and Social History of New England.
THE RAILROAD QUESTION.
HISTORY of TRANSPORTATION.
While the prosperity of a country depends largely upon its productiveness, the importance of proper facilities for the expeditious transportation and ready exchange of its various products can scarcely be overrated. The free circulation of commercial commodities is as essential to the welfare of a people as is the unimpaired circulation of the blood to the human organism.
The interest taken by man in the improvement of the roads over which he must travel is one of the chief indications of civilization, and it might even be said that the condition of the roads of a country shows the degree of enlightenment which its people have reached. The trackless though very fertile regions of Central Africa have for thousands of years remained the seat of savages; but no nation that established a system of public thoroughfares through its dominion ever failed to make a distinguished figure in the theater of the world. There are some authors who go even so far as to call the high roads of commerce the pioneers of enlightenment and political eminence. It is true that as roads and canals developed the commerce of Eastern Asia and Europe, the attention of their people was turned to those objects which distinguish cultured nations and lead to political consequence among the powers of the world. The systems of roads and canals which we find among those ancients who achieved an advanced state of civilization might well put to shame the roads which disgraced not a few of the European states as late as the eighteenth century.
Among the early nations of Asia of whose internal affairs we have any historic knowledge are the Hindoos, the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Phoenicians, the Persians and the Chinese.
The wealth of India was proverbial long before the Christian era. She supplied Nineveh and Babylon, and later Greece and Rome, with steel, zinc, pearls, precious stones, cotton, silk, sugar-cane, ivory, indigo, pepper, cinnamon, incense and other commodities. If we accept the testimony of the Vedas, the religious books of the ancient Hindoos, a high degree of culture must have prevailed on the shores of the Ganges more than three thousand years ago. Highways were constructed by the state and connected the interior of the realm with the sea and the countries to the northeast and northwest. For this purpose forests were cleared, hills leveled, bridges built and tunnels dug. But the broad statesmanship of the Hindoo did not pause here. To administer to the convenience and comfort of the wayfaring public, and thus still more encourage travel and the exchange of commodities, the state proceeded to line these public roads with shade trees, to set out mile-stones, and to establish stations provided with shady seats of repose, and wells at which humane priests watered the thirsty beasts.
At intervals along these routes were also found commodious and cleanly-kept inns to give shelter to the traveler at night. Buddha, the great religious reformer of the Hindoos, commended the roads and mountain passes of the country to the care of the pious, and the Greek geographers speak with high praise of the excellence of the public highways of Hindostan.
Among the Babylonians and Assyrians agriculture, trade and commerce flourished at an almost equally remote period. The ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia cultivated the soil with the aid of dikes and canals, and were experts in the manufacture of delicate fabrics, as linen, muslin and silk. To them is attributed the invention, or at least the perfection, of the cart, and the first use of domestic animals as beasts of burden. Their cities had well-built and commodious streets, and the roads which connected them with their dependencies aided to make them the busy marts of Southeastern Asia.
During the later Babylonian Empire immense lakes were dug for retaining the water of the Euphrates, whence a net-work of canals distributed it over the plains to irrigate the land; and quays and breakwaters were constructed along the Persian Gulf for the encouragement of commerce. While highways among the Babylonians served the development of agriculture and the exchange of industrial commodities, they were constructed chiefly for strategic purposes by the more warlike Assyrians, whose many wars made a system of good roads a necessity. The Greek geographer Pausanias was shown a well-kept military road upon which Memnon was said to have marched with an Assyrian army from Susa to Troy to rescue King Priam. Traces of this road, called by the natives "Itaki Atabeck," may be seen to this day.
The Phoenicians, who were the first of the great historic maritime nations of antiquity, occupied the narrow strip of territory between the mountains of Northern Palestine and the Mediterranean Sea. From their situation they learned to rely upon the sea as their principal highway. They transported to the islands of the Mediterranean as well as the coast of Northern Africa and Southern Europe heavy cargoes consisting of the product of their own skill and industry as well as of the manifold exports of the east. They sailed even beyond the "Pillars of Hercules" into the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Through their hands "passed the gold and pearls of the east and the purple of Tyre, slaves, ivory, lion and panther skins from the interior of Africa, frankincense from Arabia, the linen of Egypt, the pottery and fine wares of Greece, the copper of Cyprus, the silver of Spain, tin from England, and iron from Elba."
But while the Phoenicians for their commercial intercourse with other nations relied chiefly upon the sea, the great highway of nature, they neglected by no means road-building at home. They connected their great cities, Sidon and Tyre, by a coast road, which they extended in time as far as the Isthmus of Suez. They also established great commercial routes by which their merchants penetrated the interior of Europe and Asia. Caravan roads extended south to Arabia and east to Mesopotamia and Armenia, penetrating the whole Orient as far as India, and even the frontiers of China. The Phoenicians thus became the traders of antiquity, Tyre being the link between the east and the west.
The Persian Empire, which under Darius stretched from east to west for a distance of 3,000 miles and comprised no less than two million square miles, with a population of seventy or eighty millions, had, with the exception of the Romans, perhaps the best system of roads known to ancient history. Indeed, it is doubtful whether without it such a vast empire, more than half as large as modern Europe, could have been held together. Each satrap, or prefect of a province, was obliged to make regular reports to the king, who was also kept informed by spies of what was taking place in every part of the empire. To aid the administration of the government, postal communication for the exclusive use of the king and his trusted servants connected the capital with the distant provinces. This postal service was, four or five centuries later, patterned after by the Romans. From Susa to Sardes led a royal road along which were erected caravansaries at certain intervals. Over this road, 1,700 miles long, the couriers of the king rode in six or seven days. Under Darius the roads of the empire were surveyed and distances marked by means of mile-stones, many of which are still found on the road which led from Ecbatana to Babylon. These roads crossed the wildest regions of that great monarchy. They connected the cities of Ionia with Sardes in Lydia, with Babylon and with the royal city of Susa; they led from Syria into Mesopotamia, from Ecbatana to Persepolis, from Armenia into Southern Persia, and thence to Bactria and India.
The Chinese commenced road-building long before the Christian era. They graded the roadway and then covered the whole with hewn blocks of stone, carefully jointed and cemented together so that the entire surface presented a perfectly smooth plane. Such roads, although very costly to build, are almost indestructible by time. In China, as well as in several other countries of Asia, the executive power has always charged itself with both the construction and maintenance of roads and navigable canals. In the instructions which are given to the governors of the various provinces these objects, it is said, are constantly commanded to them, and the judgment which the court forms of the conduct of each is very much regulated by the attention which he appears to have paid to this part of his instructions. This solicitude of the sovereign for the internal thoroughfares is easily accounted for when it is considered that his revenue arises almost entirely from a land-tax, or rent, which rises and falls with the increase and decrease of the annual produce of the land. The greatest interest of the sovereign, his revenue, is therefore directly connected with the cultivation of the land, with the extent of its produce and its value. But in order to render that produce as great and as valuable as possible, it is necessary to procure for it as extensive a market as possible, and, consequently, to establish the freest, the easiest and the least expensive communication between all the different parts of the country, which can be done only by means of the best roads and the best navigable canals.
In Africa the Egyptians and Carthaginians are the only nations of antiquity of which we have much historic knowledge. The former kept up a very active commerce not only with the south, but also with the tribes of Lydia on the west and with Palestine and the adjoining countries on the east. To facilitate commerce, they constructed and maintained a number of excellent highways leading in all directions. One of the most important among these was the old royal road on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, or the "Road of the Philistines" of the Scriptures. This road crossed the Isthmus of Suez and led through the land of the Philistines and Samaria to Tyre and Sidon. Another road led, in a northwesterly direction, from Rameses to Pelusium. This, however, crossed marshes, lagoons and a whole system of canals, and was used only by travelers without baggage, while the Pharaohs, accompanied by their horses, chariots and troops, preferred the former road. A third road led from Coptos, on the Nile, to Berenice, on the Red Sea. There were between these two cities ten stations, about twenty-five miles apart from each other, where travelers might rest with their camels each day, after traveling all night, to avoid the heat. Still another road led from the town of Babylon, opposite Memphis, along the east bank of the Nile, into Nubia. Much of the commerce of Egypt in ancient times, as in our day, was conducted on the Nile and its canals. The boatman and the husbandman were, in fact, the founders of the gentle manners of the people who flourished four thousand years ago in the blessed valley of the Nile. There is one canal among the many which deserves special mention. It flowed from the Bitter Lakes into the Red Sea near the city of Arsinoe. It was first cut by Sesostris before the Trojan times, or, according to other writers, by the son of Psammitichus, who only began the work and then died. Darius I. set about to complete it, but gave up the undertaking when it was nearly finished, influenced by the erroneous opinion that the level of the Red Sea was higher than Egypt, and that if the whole of the intervening isthmus were cut through, the country would be overflowed by the sea. The Ptolemaic kings, however, did cut it through and placed locks upon the canal.
Carthage was a Phoenician colony. The city was remarkable for its situation. It was surrounded by a very fertile territory and had a harbor deep enough for the anchorage of the largest vessels. Two long piers reached out into the sea, forming a double harbor, the outer for merchant ships and the inner for the navy. This city early became the head of a North African empire, and her fleets plied in all navigable waters known to antiquity. Her navy was the largest in the world, and in the sea-fight with Regulus comprised three hundred and fifty vessels, carrying one hundred and fifty thousand men. Though we have but meager accounts of the internal affairs of Carthage, there can be no doubt that much attention was given, both at home and in the colonies, to the construction of highways, which were distinguished for their solidity. It is said that the Romans learned from the Carthaginians the art of paving roads.
European history began in Greece, the civilization of whose people passed to the Romans and from them to the other Aryan nations which have played an important role in the great historical drama of modern times. The physical features of the Balkan Peninsula were an important factor in the formation of the character of its inhabitants. The coast has a large number of well-protected bays, most of which form good harbors. Navigation and commerce were greatly stimulated in a country thus favored by Nature. Nearly all the principal cities of Hellas could be reached by ships, and the need of internal thoroughfares was but little felt. Nevertheless, public highways connected all of the larger towns with the national sanctuaries and oracles, as Olympia, the Isthmus, Delphi and Dodona. Athens, after the Persian wars the metropolis of Greece, was by the so-called Long Walls connected with the Piraeus, its harbor. This highway, protected by high walls built two hundred yards apart, was over four miles long, and enabled the Athenians, as long as they held the command of the sea, to bring supplies to their city, even when it was surrounded by an enemy on the land.
Rome is the connecting link between antiquity and mediaevalism. The great empire sprang from a single city, whose power and dominion grew until it comprised every civilized nation living upon the three continents then known. Under the emperors, the Roman empire extended from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, a distance of more than three thousand miles, and from the Danube and the English Channel to the cataracts of the Nile and the Desert of Sahara. Its population was from eighty to one hundred and twenty millions. The empire was covered with a net-work of excellent roads, which stimulated, together with the safety and peace which followed the civil wars, traffic and intercourse between the different regions united under the imperial government. More than 50,000 miles of solidly constructed highways connected the various provinces of this vast realm. There was one great chain of communication of 4,080 Roman miles in length from the Wall of Antoninus in the northwest to Rome, and thence to Jerusalem, a southeastern point of the empire. There were several thousand miles of road in Italy alone. Rome's highways were constructed for the purpose of facilitating military movements, but the benefits which commerce derived from them cannot easily be overestimated. These military roads were usually laid out in straight lines from one station to another. Natural obstacles were frequently passed by means of very extensive works, as excavations, bridges, and, in some instances, long tunnels. The resources of the Roman Empire were almost inexhaustible, and no public expenditures were larger than those made on account of the construction of new roads. The fact that many of these roads have borne the traffic of almost two thousand years without material injury is abundant proof of the unsurpassed solidity of their construction. The Roman engineers always secured a firm bottom, which was done, when necessary, by ramming the ground with small stones, or fragments of brick. Upon this foundation was placed a pavement of large stones, which were firmly set in cement. These stones were sometimes square, but more frequently irregular. They were, however, always accurately fitted to each other. Many varieties of stone were used, but the preference was given to basalt. Where large blocks could not be conveniently obtained, small stones of hard quality were sometimes cemented together with lime, forming a kind of concrete, of which masses extending to a depth of several feet are still in existence. The strength of the pavements is illustrated by the fact that the substrata of some have been so completely washed away by water, without disturbing the surface, that a man may creep under the road from side to side while carriages pass over the pavement as over a bridge. The roads were generally raised above the ordinary surface of the ground. They frequently had two wagon-tracks, which were separated by a raised foot-path in the center, and blocks of stone at intervals, to enable travelers to mount on horseback. Furthermore, each mile was marked by a numbered post, the distance being counted from the gate of the wall of Servius. The mile-post was at first a roughly hewn stone, which in time was exchanged for a monument, especially in the vicinity of Rome and other large cities. The most celebrated road of Italy, which has always excited the admiration of the student of antiquity, was the Via Appia, the remains of which are still an object of wonder. It was first built from Rome to Capua by Appius Claudius Caecus in the fourth century before Christ, and was afterwards continued as far as Brundisium. It was broad enough for two carriages to pass each other, and was built of solid stone. The stones were hewn sharp and smooth, and their corners fitted into one another without the aid of any connecting material, so that, according to Procopius, the whole appeared to be one natural stone. Each side of the street had a high border for foot-passengers, on which were also placed alternately seats and mile-stones. In spite of its age and heavy traffic parts of this road are still in a good state of preservation. After the completion of the Via Appia similar roads were constructed, so that under the emperors seven great highways started from Rome, viz.: the Via Appia and Latina to the south; two, Valeria and Salaria, to the Adriatic; two, Cassia and Aurelia, to the northwest; and the Via AEmilia, serving for both banks of the Po.
Nor were the provinces by any means neglected. During the last Punic war a paved road was constructed from Spain through Gaul to the Alps, and similar roads were afterwards built in every part of Spain and Gaul, through Illyricum, Macedonia and Thrace, to Constantinople, and along the Danube to its mouths on the Black Sea. So, likewise, were the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and Great Britain crossed by them. It has justly been said that the roads of the Roman Empire, whose strong net-work enlaced the known world, were the architectural glory of its people. These military roads caused in the various parts of the empire a wonderful social and commercial revolution. They made it possible for civilization to penetrate into the most remote retreats and to conquer their inhabitants more completely than could Caesar at the head of his legions.
The Romans also had an efficient postal service, which was first instituted by Augustus and greatly improved by Hadrian. The former, as Gibbon states in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," placed upon all roads leading away from the golden milestone of the Forum, at short distances, relays of young men to serve as couriers, and later provided vehicles to hurry information from the provinces. These posts facilitated communication through all parts of the empire, and while they were originally established in the interest of the government, they proved serviceable to individuals as well, for there is no doubt, that, together with the official dispatches, every courier carried private letters also.
The expenses of the post were largely defrayed by the cities through which it passed, these cities being obliged to provide the stations established within their territories with the necessary stores. At the principal stations were found inns, where the proprietors were held responsible for injuries suffered by travelers while in their houses.
The communication of the Roman Empire was scarcely less free and open by sea than it was by land. Italy has by nature few safe harbors, but the energy and industry of the Romans corrected the deficiencies of nature by the construction of several artificial ports.
After the downfall of the Roman Empire its roads were either destroyed by the people through whose territories they led or by the conquerors, to render more difficult the approach of an enemy.
Civilization and commerce greatly suffered through the downfall of Rome, and did not again revive until after the struggles of the Northern Christian races with the Southern and Eastern nations, which had become Mohammedan. The sixth and seventh centuries were the darkest in the history of Europe. Charlemagne, toward the close of the eighth century, caused many of the old Roman roads to be repaired and new ones to be constructed. He, as well as several of his immediate successors, made use of mounted messengers to send imperial mandates from one part of the realm to the other. The rulers of the succeeding centuries did not profit, however, by this example, and the roads of the empire again fell into decay. Moreover, the public safety was greatly impaired by robbers and feudal knights, whose depredations were so heavy a tax upon commerce as to greatly discourage it. Trade under these circumstances would have been entirely destroyed, had it not been for the merchants' unions which were formed by the larger cities for the protection of their interests. These organizations maintained the most important thoroughfares, and even furnished armed escorts to wayfaring merchants. Commerce thus flourished in, and commercial relations were kept up among, the cities immediate between Venice and Genoa, as well as the cities on the Rhine and Danube. Florence, Verona, Milan, Strasbourg, Mayence, Augsburg, Ulm, Ratisbon, Vienna and Nuremberg were flourishing marts, and through them flowed the currents of trade between the north and the south. Out of these commercial unions grew in time the Hanseatic League, which from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century controlled the commerce of the northern part of Europe on both the water and the land. The object of this league, which at the height of its power included eighty-five cities, was to protect its members against the feudal lords on the land and against pirates on the sea. Its power extended from Norway to Belgium and from England to Russia. In all the principal towns on the highways of commerce the flag of the Hansa floated over its counting houses. Wherever its influence reached, its members controlled roads, mines, agriculture and manufactures. It often dictated terms to kings, and almost succeeded in monopolizing the trade of Europe north of Italy.
It is characteristic of the social and political condition of this time that the postal service was not carried on by the state, but was in the hands of the various municipalities, convents and universities. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries national power and national life made themselves felt, and with a change in the political system the system of communication and transportation changed also. Louis XI. of France took the first step toward making a nation of the French when he transferred the postal service from the cities and other feudal authorities to the state. Two or three centuries later, France obtained a national system of roads and canals. The idea was largely due to Colbert, the minister of Louis XIV. It was, however, not executed in detail until the middle of the last century. Many abuses grew up in connection with it, but on the whole it was probably the soundest and most efficient part of the French administration. A system of lines of communication, radiating from Paris, was constructed by skilled engineers, and placed under the supervision of men of talent, especially trained for the purpose at the Ecole des Fonts et Chaussees. The whole system was further improved by Napoleon, and has served as a basis for the present system of railroad supervision.
The first artificial waterway constructed in France was the Languedoc Canal, connecting the Bay of Biscay with the Mediterranean. This gigantic work, designed by Riquet, was commenced in 1666, and completed in 1681. The canal is 148 miles long and its summit level is 600 feet above the sea, the works along its line embracing over one hundred locks and fifty aqueducts. A large number of canals have since been constructed, and France has at present over 4,000 miles of artificial waterways, or more than any other country of Europe.
Nowhere else was the same completeness of organization possible. The regular mail service of Germany dates back to the year of 1516, when Emperor Maximilian established a postal route between Brussels and Vienna and made Francis Count of Taxis Imperial Postmaster-General. The postal service of the empire greatly improved up to the time of the Thirty Years' War, which completely demoralized it. After the war the individual states and free cities, usurping imperial prerogatives, established postal routes of their own and thereby crippled the national service. The same war also did great damage to the public thoroughfares, and the commercial and manufacturing interests of the German empire were until the end of the eighteenth century in a deplorable condition. Frederick the Great, recognizing the fact that the industrial paralysis of Germany was owing chiefly to its defective means of communication, commenced to construct turnpikes and canals in Prussia, and the minor German princes one by one imitated his example, until the Napoleonic wars again put an end to internal improvements. The good work was resumed, however, after the downfall of Napoleon, and in 1830 Germany was intercrossed by from three to four thousand miles of turnpike.
In the Netherlands canals were constructed as early as the twelfth century. Being particularly well adapted to the flat country of Holland, they were rapidly extended until they connected all the cities, towns and villages of the country, and to a large extent took the place of roads. The largest canal of Holland is the one which connects the city of Amsterdam with the North Sea. It was constructed between the years of 1819 and 1825 at an expense of more than four million dollars. The city of Amsterdam owes to this canal its present commercial prosperity.
Public roads and the state postal service are of comparatively recent origin in Great Britain. The first public postal route was established in 1635, during the reign of Charles I. In 1678 a public stage-coach route was established between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The distance is only forty-four miles, but the roads were so bad that, though the coach was drawn by six able horses, the journey took three days. It was considered a great improvement when in 1750 it could be completed in half the time originally required. In 1763 a mail-coach made only monthly trips between London and Edinburgh, eight long days being required for the journey, which to-day is made in less than twelve hours. The number of stage passengers between these two capitals averaged about twenty-five a month, and rose to fifty on extraordinary occasions. In those days coaches were very heavy and without springs, and travelers not unfrequently cut short their journeys for want of conveniences.
Turnpikes in Great Britain do not even date as far back as stage-coaches. It is true the first turnpike act was passed as early as 1653, but the system was not extensively adopted until a century later. Previous to that time the roads of England, such as they were, were maintained by parish and statute labor. In the latter half of the last century, under improved methods of construction, turnpike roads multiplied rapidly. Both roads and vehicles attained, previous to the advent of the railroads, such a degree of perfection that the stage-coach made the journey between London and Manchester, 178 miles, in 19 hours; between London and Liverpool, 203 miles, in less than 21 hours; and between London and Holyhead, 261 miles, in less than 27 hours.
In spite of these improved facilities, the transportation of merchandise continued to be very expensive. Goods had to be conveyed from town to town by heavy wagons, and the cost of land-carriage between Manchester and Liverpool, a distance of thirty miles, was at times as high as forty shillings per ton.
The various disadvantages of land transportation directed, toward the middle of the last century, the attention of the British people to the importance of a system of canals. They realized that these water highways would open an easier and cheaper communication between distant parts of the country, thus enabling manufacturers to collect their materials and fuel from remote districts with less labor and expense, and to convey their goods to a more distant and more profitable market. It would also facilitate the conveyance of farm produce to a greater distance and would thereby benefit both the producer and consumer. The canal era was formally inaugurated in 1761, when the Duke of Bridgewater presented to Parliament a petition for a bill to construct the canal which has since borne his name. The canal was commenced in 1767 and was completed in 1772. The next forty years were a period of great activity in canal building, but it was left to private enterprise, with very little aid from the government. Over a hundred canal acts were passed by Parliament before the year 1800. The largest canal of the British Isles is the Caledonian, extending from Inverness to Fort William, a distance of sixty-three miles. It was commenced in 1803 and completed in 1847, and cost L1,256,000. Other canals of importance are the Great Canal, which connects the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, and the Grand Function Canal, which is over one hundred miles long and connects most of the water-ways of central England with the Thames River. It is estimated that there were over 2,200 miles of navigable canals in Great Britain before the introduction of railroads.
Canal-building in Spain dates back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, when Charles V. built the Imperial Canal of Aragon, which is over sixty miles long. The political and commercial decline of the country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, brought the development of her highways to a standstill, and, with the exception of Turkey, probably no European country has at the present time more deficient transportation facilities than Spain.
The comparatively high state of civilization which existed in the Italian cities during the middle ages, their commercial and industrial thrift and the importance of Rome as the metropolis of the Catholic Church combined to maintain many of the excellent ancient highways of Italy. A number of canals were built in Northern Italy as early as the fifteenth century, and it is claimed by some writers that locks were first used on the Milanese canals in 1497. But while public thoroughfares have always been well maintained in Northern Italy and even as far south as Naples, they were during the past two or three centuries permitted to greatly deteriorate in the southern part of the peninsula, to the great detriment of both agriculture and commerce. The condition of the large Italian islands is still more lamentable, Sicily and Sardinia being almost entirely devoid of roads. She that was the granary of ancient Rome to-day scarcely produces enough grain to supply her own people.
Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula had a good system of highways long before the railroad era. Among the many excellent canals of Sweden may be mentioned the Goeta Canal, which was commenced by Charles XII. in the early part of the last century, but was not entirely completed until 1832. It is, inclusive of the lakes, 118 miles long, and its construction cost $3,750,000, three-fifths of which was contributed by the state. This canal connects the Baltic Sea with Lake Wener, as well as, through the Goeta-Elf, with the North Sea.
Next to Turkey and Spain, no country of Europe has been as slow to appreciate the advantages of a system of highways as Russia. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the vast empire of the Czar had but a few roads connecting its principal cities, and these were almost impassable in the spring and fall. Much progress has, however, been made since then, and at present Russia has over 75,000 miles of wagon-road and artificial waterway, and 19,000 miles of railroad. A road has been built through Siberia, extending from the Ural Mountains to the city of Jakutsk on the Lena and sending out many branch roads north and south. The development of Russia's resources has kept pace with that of her system of highways, and the agricultural and mineral products of that country are in the markets of the world constantly gaining ground in their competition with the products of Western Europe and America.
Passing now to the Western Hemisphere, we find that in ancient Peru the Incas built great roads, the remains of which still attest their magnificence. Probably the most remarkable were the two which extended from Quito to Cuzco, and thence on toward Chile, one passing over the great Plateau, the other following the coast, Humboldt, in his "Aspects of Nature," says of this mountain road: "But what above all things relieves the severe aspect of the deserts of the Cordilleras are the remains, as marvelous as unexpected, of a gigantic road, the work of the Incas. In the pass of the Andes between Mausi and Loja we found on the plain of Puttal much difficulty in making a way for the mules over a marshy piece of ground, while for more than a German mile our sight continually rested on the superb remains of a paved road of the Incas, twenty feet wide, which we marked resting on its deep foundations, and paved with well-cut, dark porphyritic stone. This road was wonderful and does not fall behind the most imposing Roman ways which I have seen in France, Spain and Italy. By barometrical observation I found that this colossal work was at an elevation of 12,440 feet." The length of this road, of which only parts remain, is variously estimated at from 1,500 to 2,000 miles. It was built of stone and was, in some parts at least, covered with a bituminous cement, which time had made harder than the stone itself. All the difficulties which a mountainous country presents to the construction of roads were here overcome. Suspension bridges led over mountain torrents, stairways cut in the rock made possible the climbing of steep precipices, and mounds of solid masonry facilitated the crossing of ravines. Under the rule of the Spaniards the roads of the Incas went to ruin. In fact, throughout South America but little, if anything, was done by the mother country to aid transportation.
North America, or at least that part of it which was settled by the Anglo-Saxon race, fared much better in this respect. The great utility of good roads was universally recognized even in the colonial times, but the scarcity of capital, the great extent of territory as compared with the population, and the want of harmonious action among the various colonies, delayed extensive road and canal building until after the establishment of the Union. Mistaken local interests but too often wrecked well-advanced plans, and what road-building was done during the colonial times was almost entirely left to individual exertion, without any direct aid from the government.
The first American turnpike was built in Pennsylvania in 1790. From there the system extended into New York and Southern New England. Up to 1822 more than six million dollars had been expended in Pennsylvania for turnpikes, one-third of which sum, or over $1,000 a mile, had been contributed by the commonwealth.
In 1800 three wagon-roads connected the Atlantic coast with the country west of the Alleghanies, one leading from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, one from the Potomac to the Monongahela, and a third passed through Virginia to Knoxville, in Tennessee. Much as was done during this period for the improvement of the roads, stage-coach travel remained for years comparatively slow. In 1792 Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of State, wrote to the Postmaster-General to know if the post, which was then carried at the rate of fifty miles a day, could not be expedited to one hundred. Even this latter rate was considered slow on the great post-roads forty years later. In the year 1800 one general mail-route was extended from Maine to Georgia, the trip being made in twenty days. From Philadelphia a line went to Lexington in sixteen and to Nashville in twenty-two days. The government of the United States, appreciating the importance, for military purposes, of good roads leading to the frontiers, commenced the construction of national, or military, roads. A road was thus built from Baltimore through Cincinnati to St. Louis, and another from Bangor to Houlton, in Maine. In 1807 Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, advocated the extensive construction of public roads and canals by the general government. Mr. Gallatin took the ground that the inconveniences, complaints, and perhaps dangers, resulting from a vast extent of territory cannot otherwise be radically removed than by opening speedy and easy communications through all its parts; that good roads and canals would shorten distances, facilitate commercial and personal intercourse, and unite by a still more intimate community of interests the most remote quarters of the United States, and that no other single operation within the power of the government could more effectually tend to strengthen and perpetuate that union which secured external independence, domestic peace and internal liberty. The principal improvements recommended by Mr. Gallatin were the following:
1. Canals opening an inland navigation from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
2. Improvement of the navigation of the four great Atlantic rivers, including canals parallel to them.
3. Great inland navigation by canals from the North River to Lake Ontario.
4. Inland navigation from the North River to Lake Champlain.
5. Canal around the Falls and Rapids of Niagara.
6. A great turnpike road from Maine to Georgia, along the whole extent of the Atlantic sea-coast.
7. Four turnpike roads from the four great Atlantic rivers across the mountains to the four corresponding Western rivers.
8. Improvement of the roads to Detroit, St. Louis and New Orleans.
Mr. Gallatin also recommended that a sufficient number of local improvements, consisting either of roads or canals, be undertaken so as to do substantial justice to all parts of the country. The expenditure necessary for these improvements was estimated at twenty million dollars. Local jealousy and State rights prejudice practically defeated this movement, the Cumberland road, or National Pike, being the only result of any importance. The failure of the government to provide the country with adequate roads left the construction of turnpike roads to private enterprise, and these roads, before the general introduction of railroads, often yielded much profit to capitalists. Great as were the conveniences afforded by the turnpike, they were entirely inadequate for the development of the resources of the interior of the country. The products of a forest or a mine could not be transported upon them to any great extent. The crossing of a single water-shed, owing to the necessity for largely increased motive power, would often materially decrease the value of the goods to be transported.
These drawbacks of land transportation directed, toward the close of the last century, the attention of the people of the United States to the necessity of providing for a system of canals that should bind together the various parts of their extended country in the interest of commerce. General Washington was among the first to urge upon his countrymen the introduction of this great highway of interstate traffic, although but little was done in this direction until after the War of 1812. The people of New York had from an early period of the settlement of their State been impressed with the importance of connecting the Hudson with the Western lakes. In 1768 the provincial legislature discussed this subject, but the political agitations of the times and the following revolutionary struggle arrested further proceedings. After the war the project was frequently brought before the legislature, but nothing was done until 1808, when the assembly appointed a committee to investigate the subject and to solicit the cooperation of the general government, if the project should be found practicable. The report of the committee concerning the practicability of the undertaking was in every respect favorable, and in 1810 the legislature provided for a survey of the entire route from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. The survey was made, but, the expected aid from the national government not being forthcoming, the matter rested until after the war with England. In 1816 a new board of commissioners was appointed, and the following year an act was passed providing for a system of internal improvements in the State. On the 4th day of July next the excavation of the Erie Canal was commenced, and on the 26th of October, 1825, the first boat passed from Lake Erie to the Hudson. The canal was 378 miles long and four feet deep. It had a width of 40 feet at the surface and 28 feet on the bottom, and carried boats of 76 tons burden. Owing to the rapid increase of trade, the capacity of the canal was found inadequate within ten years after its opening, and in 1835 measures were taken to enlarge it to a width of 70 and 56 feet by a depth of seven feet, thus allowing the passage of boats of 240 tons. The total length of the canal was, however, subsequently shortened 12-1/2 miles, making its present length 365-1/2 miles. This enlargement was completed in 1862, and cost the State over $7,000,000, making the total cost of the canal about $50,000,000. New York has, inclusive of branches, some ten other canals in operation, among them the Champlain Canal, extending from the head of Lake Champlain to its junction with the Erie Canal at Waterford; the Oswego Canal, from Lake Ontario at the city of Oswego to the Erie Canal at Syracuse; the Black River Canal, from Rome to Lyon Falls; the Cayuga and Seneca canals, extending from the Erie Canal to the Seneca and Cayuga lakes. The State has expended for the construction of canals not less than $70,000,000.
Canal-building in the State of Pennsylvania commenced about the time that the original Erie Canal was completed in New York. In 1824 the legislature authorized the appointment of commissioners to explore canal routes from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and the West. A year later surveys were authorized to be made from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, from Allegheny to Erie, from Philadelphia to the northern boundary of the State, and also south to the Potomac River. The construction of the main lines of communication between the east and the west and the coal fields in the north was soon commenced. Large loans were repeatedly made, and the work was vigorously prosecuted. In 1834 Pennsylvania had 589 miles of State canals, among them the Central Division Canal, 172 miles long, and the Western Division Canal, 104 miles long. Public opinion strongly favored an extended system of internal improvements, and it was believed that these water-ways would soon become a source of revenue to the State. These expectations might have been realized had the State carried on enterprises on a less extensive and more economical basis. In 1840 the financial condition of the State had become such that canal-building had to be abandoned. The amount expended by the State of Pennsylvania for canals, including the Columbia Railroad, was about $40,000,000, while the difference between net earnings and interest paid by the State up to that time is estimated at $30,000,000. In 1857 and 1858 these works were sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the Sunbury and Erie Railway Company for $11,375,000, or about one-sixth of their cost to the State.
In Ohio the legislature authorized the survey of a canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. In 1825 an act was passed providing for the construction of the Ohio Canal and a number of feeders. In 1831 the canal was in operation from Cleveland to Newark, a distance of 176 miles, and the whole system was finished in 1833.
The State of Illinois completed in 1848 the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting Chicago with La Salle on the Illinois River. This canal is 102 miles long, 60 feet wide and six feet deep. The construction by the general government of the Hennepin Ship Canal, connecting the Mississippi with Lake Michigan, has long been agitated in the Northwest. Such a canal would be one of the most important channels of commerce in the country, and it is to be hoped that this great project will be completed at no distant day.
We have besides in the United States a large number of canals that were constructed, and are still operated, by private companies, as the Delaware and Hudson in New York and Pennsylvania, the Schuylkill, Lehigh and Union canals in Pennsylvania, the Morris Canal in New Jersey, the Chesapeake and Ohio and Maryland, etc. A large number of canals, some public and others private property, have since the construction of railroads been abandoned. Thus in New York 356 miles of canals, costing $10,235,000; in Pennsylvania 477 miles, costing $12,745,000; in Ohio 205 miles, costing $3,000,000; in Indiana 379 miles, costing $6,325,000, are no longer in use. All the canals that were ever built in New England have likewise been abandoned for commercial purposes.
Nor was Canada slow in realizing the advantages which a system of canals connecting the great lakes with the Atlantic Ocean promised to give her. The construction of the Welland and St. Lawrence canals made it possible for vessels to clear from Chicago direct for Liverpool, and this has to a considerable extent diverted grain shipments to Montreal, giving the Canadian dealers a decided advantage in this traffic.
It is a strange fact that, at least in this country, the zenith of the canal-building era is found in the decade following the invention of the steam railroad. For many years it was not believed that under ordinary circumstances the iron horse could ever compete with the canal boat in rates. The most sagacious business men had unlimited faith in the destiny of the canal as a prime commercial factor and invested largely in canal stocks. To many these investments proved a disappointment. The marvelous improvements in locomotives and other rolling stock, the unprecedented reductions in the prices of iron and steel, and above all the fact that in our climate canal carriage is unavailable during five months of the year, gave the railroads a decided advantage in their competition with canal transportation. There can be no doubt, however, that the presence of this competition was one of the chief causes of the great reduction of railroad rates on through routes. In this respect alone the canals have accomplished a very important mission. In the transportation of many of the raw products of the soil and the mine canals still compete successfully with the railroads, and it is still an open question whether future inventions may not enable them to regain lost ground in the carriage of other goods. It would certainly be a short-sighted policy for our people to discourage the construction of new canals.
For the improvement of navigable rivers, appropriations have been made by Congress ever since the establishment of our national government, and these appropriations now amount to millions of dollars annually. Since the introduction of railroads the usefulness of these national highways of commerce has ceased to depend upon the tonnage carried upon them, but the influence which they exert upon the cost of transportation is so great that it is not likely that the policy of making annual appropriations for the improvement of these water ways will be abandoned by the American people for many years to come.
There has recently been a strong agitation in some portions of the United States in favor of extending government aid to the Nicaragua Ship Canal, and there seem to be indeed many arguments in favor of such a policy. President Harrison said in his annual message to Congress in December, 1891:
"The annual report of the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua shows that much costly and necessary preparatory work has been done during the past year in the construction of shops, railroad tracks and harbor piers and breakwaters, and that the work of canal construction has made some progress. I deem it to be a matter of the highest concern to the United States that this canal, connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and giving to us a short water communication between our ports upon those two great seas, should be speedily constructed, and at the smallest practical limit of cost. The gain in freights to the people and the direct saving to the government of the United States in the use of its naval vessels would pay the entire cost of the work within a short series of years. The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows the saving in our naval expenditures which would result. The Senator from Alabama, Mr. Morgan, in his argument upon this subject before the Senate of the last session, did not overestimate the importance of the work when he said that 'The canal is the most important subject now connected with the commercial growth and progress of the United States.'"
And in his message of 1892 that:
"It is impossible to overestimate the value from every standpoint of this great enterprise, and I hope that there will be time, even in this Congress, to give it an impetus that will insure the early completion of the canal and secure to the United States its proper relation to it when completed."
It is sincerely to be hoped that the people of the United States can be convinced of the advisability of extending government aid to this enterprise. It must be admitted that the experience of our government with the Pacific railroads has created a strong prejudice among the masses against such subsidies as were granted to those corporations, but it is probable, with the people on the alert, that Congress would not again permit great impositions to be practiced against the government. When the great advantages to be derived by the people of the United States from the use of this canal and the small outlay required are considered, it would seem to be a wise policy for our government at once to take such steps as are necessary to secure the early completion and the future control of this great international highway.
THE HISTORY OF RAILROADS.
In making inquiry into those inventions and improvements which were the precursors of the modern railroad, we meet early the desire to render the movement of wagons easier by a smooth roadway. Traces of this may be found even in ancient times. The Romans constructed tracks consisting of two lines of cut stones, and in the older Italian cities stone tracks may still be seen in the streets, corresponding to wagon tracks, and evidently designed for the purpose of rendering the movement of the wheels easier.
The first rail tracks of which we have any knowledge were constructed at the end of the sixteenth century. These rails, which were made of wood, appear to have been an invention of miners in the Hartz Mountains. They were the result of pressing necessity, for, as mines were usually so situated that roads could only with great difficulty and expense have been built to them, some cheaper sort of communication with the high road had to be contrived.
After various experiments the wooden railway was adopted, and the product of the mine was carried upon them to the place of shipment by means of small cars. Queen Elizabeth had miners brought into England, to develop the English mines, and through them the rail track was introduced into Great Britain. Later the wooden rail was covered with an iron strap to prevent the rapid wear of the wood, and about the year 1768 cast-iron rails commenced to be used. At the end of the last century wheels were constructed with flanges, to prevent derailing. More attention was also paid to the substructure, wood, iron and stone being used for this purpose. Wrought-iron rails were patented in 1820.
The first authentic account of heat or steam engines is found in the "Pneumatica" of Hero of Alexandria, who lived in the second century before Christ. Hero describes a number of contrivances by which steam was utilized as a source of power. Although these contrivances were at the time of very little practical value, they are interesting as the prototypes of the modern steam engine. The attempts to move wheels by steam date back to the seventeenth century, when a number of experiments were made, but their exact nature is not known, because they were all soon abandoned, either on account of unsuccessful results or lack of means. At the beginning of the eighteenth century Denis Papin constructed a small steamboat, upon which he sailed in 1707 on the Fulda River from Cassel to Munden, a distance of about fifteen miles.
The construction of locomotives engaged the attention of ingenious minds a century and a half ago. It is claimed that Newton experimented with a steam motor in 1680. Dr. Robinson described in 1759, in his "Mechanical Philosophy," a steam vehicle. The Glasgow engineer James Watt devoted himself from 1769 to 1785, with great energy, to the development of the steam engine, and succeeded in inventing the system which became the parent of the modern engine. An American, Oliver Evans, constructed at the beginning of the present century a carriage propelled by steam, and exhibited it, in 1804, in the streets of Philadelphia, before twenty thousand spectators. While Evans' invention was never put to any practical use, he prophesied that the time would come when steam cars would be considered the most perfect means of transportation. On Christmas eve, 1801, Richard Trevithick exhibited at Camborne, England, a steam coach, and soon afterwards he and his cousin, A. Vivian, obtained an English patent on a "steam engine for propelling carriages." Seven years later a Mr. Blinkensop, of Middleton Colliery, near Leeds, constructed another locomotive engine, upon which he obtained a patent in 1811. These and a number of other inventors of steam engines vainly expended great ingenuity in attempting to overcome a purely imaginary difficulty. They believed that the adhesion between the face of the wheel and the surface of the road was so slight that a considerable portion of the propelling power would be lost by the slipping of the wheels. It was not until about the year 1813 that the important fact was ascertained that the friction of the wheels with the rails was sufficient to propel the locomotive and even drag after it a load of considerable weight. On the other hand these inventors failed to provide in their engines adequate heating-power for the production of steam. In 1814 George Stephenson commenced to apply himself to the construction of an improved locomotive. When, owing to his invention of the tubular boiler, he saw, after fifteen years of arduous toil, his labors crowned with success, the civilized world entered upon a new era of social, industrial and commercial life. The first line upon which Stephenson's invention was used was the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. In the year 1821, a number of Liverpool merchants formulated a plan for the construction of a tramway between their city and Manchester. The question of motive power was left open as between horses and the steam engine, with which Mr. Stephenson was then experimenting. After much opposition on the part of Parliament and the public a charter was obtained in 1826. When the construction of the road was nearly completed, the directors of the company, after having determined upon the use of steam engines, offered a prize of L500 for the best locomotive engine to run at a public trial on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. This proposal was announced in the spring of 1829, and the trial took place at Rainhill on the 6th of October of that year. The competing engines were the Rocket, constructed by Mr. Stephenson; the Sanspareil, by Hackworth; the Perseverance, by Burstall, and the Novelty, by Messrs. Braithwaite and Ericsson. Both Braithwaite and Ericsson became subsequently residents of the United States, and the latter achieved immortal fame as the inventor of the screw propeller and the builder of the Monitor. The Rocket was the only engine that performed the complete journey proposed, and obtained the prize. It is claimed by the biographers of John Ericsson that he had really built a much faster locomotive than Stephenson, and that, although it had to be constructed very hastily and therefore broke down during the trial, the superiority of the principle involved in it was universally recognized by the engineers of that time. The Stephenson engines became the motive power of the Liverpool and Manchester road, which was opened for public traffic on the 16th of September, 1830. This line was, however, neither the first public railway nor even the first steam railway. The first railway or tramway act was passed in England in 1758, and in 1824 no less than thirty-three private railway or tramway companies had been chartered. In 1824 a charter was granted by Parliament authorizing the construction of the Darlington and Stockton Railway, to be worked with "men and horses, or otherwise." By a subsequent act the company was empowered to work its railway with locomotive engines. The road was opened in September, 1825, and was practically the first public carrier of goods and passengers. The Monklands Railway in Scotland, opened in 1826, and several other small lines soon followed the example of the Darlington and Stockton line and adopted steam traction, but the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first to convince the world that a revolution in traveling had taken place.
The road was from the very first successful, its traffic and income greatly exceeding the expectations of its managers. It should also be noted here that the cost of construction fell largely below the elaborate estimates made by several distinguished engineers. The company had expected to earn about L10,000 a year from passenger traffic, and the very first year the receipts from that source were L101,829. The gross annual receipts from freight had been estimated at L50,000, but were L80,000 in 1833. From the first the stockholders obtained a dividend of eight per cent., which soon rose to nine and to ten per cent. It has since been demonstrated that the revenues of new roads almost always exceed expectations.
The success of this railway stimulated railway enterprise throughout Europe and America. But while railroad projects created much enthusiasm on one side, they also met with bitter opposition on the other. The prejudice of the short-sighted and the avarice of those whose interests were threatened by a change in the mode of transportation used every weapon in their power against the proposed innovation. The arguments used were often most absurd. It was said that the smoke of the engine was injurious to both man and beast, and that the sparks escaping from it would set fire to the buildings along the line of road, the cows would be scared and would cease to give their milk, that horses would depreciate in value, and that their race would finally become extinct. Nor did many of the European governments favor the new system of transportation. Some openly opposed it as revolutionary and productive of infinitely more evil than good. The Austrian court and statesmen especially looked upon the new contrivance with undisguised distrust; and from their point of view this distrust was perhaps well founded. The rapid movement of the iron horse seemed to savor of dangerous radicalism, not to say revolution. When the Emperor finally, in 1836, concluded to sign a railroad charter, he based his action upon the dubious ground that "the thing cannot maintain itself, anyhow." It may be said that the history of the railroad is a conspicuous illustration of human short-sightedness. The Prussian Postmaster-General Von Nagler opposed the construction of a railroad between Berlin and Potsdam upon the ground that the passenger business between those two cities was not sufficient to keep even the stage-coach always full. It never occurred to the Postmaster-General, as it does not occur to many railroad men of to-day, that new and cheaper means of transportation increase the traffic. Even so wise a statesman as Thiers said when railroad construction was first agitated in France: "I do not see how railroads can compete with our stage-coaches." M. Thiers also opposed for years the building of a railroad between Paris and Versailles, declaring that on account of a railroad not one passenger more would make the journey between these two places.
But railroads came whether monarchical governments liked them or not. The success of the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad stimulated railroad building in England to a marvelous extent. Between 1830 and 1843 no less than seventy-one different companies were organized, representing about 2,100 miles. During the next four years 637 more roads, with an authorized length of 9,400 miles, were chartered. The construction of each new road required a special act of Parliament. These early roads averaged only fifteen to thirty miles in length. The competition which ensued soon led to the consolidation of roads, which continued until now the 14,000 miles of railway in England and Wales are practically owned by only a dozen companies. The total number of miles of railroad in Great Britain and Ireland is at present over 20,000.
The news of the opening of the first steam railway in England spread through Europe comparatively slowly. There were in those days but few newspapers printed on the continent, and these were read very sparingly. Railroad discussions were confined to merchants and manufacturers. Even after the success of the railroad was assured in England, a large number of people would not believe that, except between the largest cities, railroads on the continent could ever be profitable. But few railroads have ever been built which with honest, efficient and economical management would not pay a fair rate of interest on actual cost of construction. But in spite of this we have to this day a large number of otherwise well-informed people who question the financial success of every new railroad that is proposed.
In those days it occurred only to the most sagacious minds that with increased facilities commerce would expand. The missionaries of railroad enterprise found it therefore a difficult matter to interest capital in their projects. Railroad committees were in time formed in all cities of any importance, but, with capital cowardly, as usual, and governments distrustful, their task was often a thankless one. Railroad projects matured very slowly, and, when matured, were often wrecked by jealous and short-sighted governments. After the formation of a company five and even ten years would often pass away before a charter could be secured and the work of construction commenced. It is true, there were some laudable exceptions to this rule. Thus the governments of France and Belgium led the people in railroad construction; but upon the whole it can be said that the railroad forced itself by its intrinsic merit upon monarchical governments. It soon became evident even to the most stupid of autocratic ministries that it was a choice between the new mode of transportation and national atrophy.
The first German line was built between the cities of Nuremberg and Furth in 1835. It was only about four miles long, but the success of the experiment gave an impetus to railroad building in other parts of Germany. The Leipzig and Dresden line followed in 1837, and the Berlin-Potsdam and Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel lines in 1838. At the end of 1840 Germany had 360 miles of railroad. In that year Frederick William IV. succeeded to the throne of Prussia and inaugurated a new and exceedingly liberal railroad policy in his realm. In 1843 the Prussian government concluded to guarantee certain railroad companies a dividend of 3-1/2 per cent. on the capital actually invested. The state also secured considerable influence in the administration of the roads as well as in the right to assume the management of the various lines under certain conditions. The governments of the states of Southern Germany now commenced to build state roads, and their example was, chiefly for strategic reasons, soon imitated by Prussia. The system has since grown to over 26,000 miles, and no less than eighty-seven per cent. of the mileage is under state control. In all the states and provinces of the empire, except Bavaria, the rates for transportation of passengers and freight on all lines are controlled absolutely by the government.
In Austria, as has already been indicated, the building of railways was greatly discouraged by the government until 1836. In that year the Emperor rather reluctantly granted Baron Rothschild a charter for a railway from Vienna into the province of Galicia. Another charter was granted to a Baron Sina for a line from Vienna to Raab and Gloggnitz. The policy then adopted in Austria guaranteed to each railroad company a monopoly in its own district during the period for which the charter was granted. Soon after the state also commenced building lines, but the growth of the Austrian system was slow until after the war of 1866. An era of railroad speculation was then inaugurated, which ended with the crisis of 1873. The total length of the railroads of Austria-Hungary was 10,790 miles in 1875. At present that monarchy has nearly 16,400 miles of railway, 8,600 of which are owned by private companies.
It has been the policy of Austria to reduce rates, and several roads, especially those built in mountainous districts, have a certain revenue guaranteed to them by the government.
The zone system recently adopted in Hungary reduced both the passenger and freight rates of the government roads at least one-third, and this reduction has, contrary to expectation, greatly increased their net revenues.
In France railroad agitation commenced in 1832. A few short lines were opened, as those from Paris to St. Germain and to Versailles; but, owing to the conservatism of French capitalists, but little more was done until the state took the matter in hand. Thiers proposed a scheme by which the state was to furnish about half the cost while private companies were to build the lines and operate them. The Western Railroad, the first line of any great extent, was opened in 1837 between Paris and Rouen, and the Eastern Railroad was opened two years later. There were in 1859 six large companies operating their lines with profit, but, to induce them to build additional lines that were needed, the state guaranteed the interest on the capital required to make their improvements. In 1884 there were about 17,000 miles of railroad in operation. To bring about the construction of another 7,000 miles of road, and to thus complete the railroad system of the country, the government now guaranteed each company a dividend equal to the average of recent years, but not to exceed seven per cent. It is doubtful whether this system of monopoly has in all respects been favorable to the encouragement of enterprise in the railroad circles of France. In granting charters the state has, however, reserved valuable rights which at a future period it will have an opportunity to assert for the public benefit. The railroad companies have generally a lease for ninety-nine years, and their lines become the property of the state after the expiration of that period. To extinguish the bonded debt and stock, a sinking fund has been created, from which a certain portion of the shares and outstanding bonds is annually paid off and canceled. The government requires of the companies the free carriage of the mails and the transportation of military and other employes at very low rates. Besides this the state levies upon the traffic of the railroads a duty of ten per cent. of their gross earnings from passengers and from all goods carried by fast trains. These facts are usually overlooked by our railroad men when they indulge in making comparisons between the railroad rates of this country and those of France. The French Republic had 13,400 miles of road in 1875, and 22,600 in 1890. When all of the proposed lines are completed, the total mileage of that country will be over 25,000.
Belgium has the best-developed track system on the continent. The state commenced the construction of railroads as early as 1834, and the first line (Brussels Malines) was opened May 5th, 1835. Four great state lines were constructed in different directions, and between these lines private roads were permitted to be built. Between 1850 and 1870 the private lines increased from 200 to 1,400 miles, and competition between them and the state lines became so active as to reduce rates to the lowest possible point. In 1870 the government decided to buy a large number of competing lines. In 1874 it had acquired more than half, and at present, with a few exceptions, they are all owned and controlled by the state. The exceptions to this are a few short lines that were built in the early days of railroad construction. The total mileage is now 3,210. Rates have, however, not been increased since this consolidation, and they are still lower than any other country in Europe. The transportation of mails is free, and troops, military materials and prison vans are carried at reduced rates.
Railroads were originally built in Switzerland merely for the accommodation of tourists and the local traffic. The first line, between Zurich and Aarau, was completed in 1847, but general railroad enterprise did not develop until after 1860. The St. Gothard route was then projected, which opened a direct through line between Italy and Germany. The roads are all owned by private companies, but are under strict government control. Great publicity of their affairs is required. The total mileage of Switzerland was 2,043 in 1891.
In Italy railroad enterprises have received attention since 1853. The first roads were those of Lombardy, being commenced while that province was still under Austrian rule. The treaties of Zurich in 1859 and of Vienna in 1866 delivered these roads and the Venetian lines to the kingdom of Italy. Between 1860 and 1870 the systematic construction of a railroad net was commenced which connected the various lines with each other and with Rome. Nearly all the railroads of Italy fell into the hands of the government, but in 1885 they were leased for a term of sixty years to three companies, terminable at the end of twenty or forty years by either party upon two years' notice. Under the lease the state received two per cent. of the gross receipts. The tariffs are fixed by the state, are uniform and can be reduced by the state. A Council of Tariffs, composed of delegates for the government, for agriculture, commerce and industry, and for the railroad companies, all elected by their own boards, has been instituted to study the wants and best interests of the country. The total number of miles of railroad in Italy was 8,110 in 1889.
The first road in Spain was opened in 1848 between Barcelona and Mataro. The government greatly encouraged railroad construction by subsidies, and during the decade following 1855 the development of the railway system of the country was rapid. More than thirty companies have been formed, which have built about twenty main lines, aggregating 6,200 miles.
In Portugal very little railroad building was done previous to 1863, when a little over three hundred miles of road was constructed. The government owns nearly half of the roads of the country, the remaining lines being the property of private companies. The total number of miles operated in the kingdom in 1889 was 1,280. The service and the financial condition of the roads of Portugal are far from being satisfactory.
In Denmark the first railroad was built on the island of Seeland in 1847. Previous to 1880 the larger part of the roads of the kingdom was owned by private companies. Since then several of the most important private roads have been purchased by the state, which in 1889 owned 963 miles, while only 251 miles remained in private control. Only about thirty miles more have since been constructed. The roads are well managed, but their net earnings are less than two per cent. of the capital invested.
On the Scandinavian Peninsula the railroad system has developed rather slowly. Norway built the first line from Christiana to Eidsvold in 1854, and Sweden commenced railroad building two years later. The narrow-gauge system is fully developed here. While in Norway the greater part of the lines is owned by the state, the roads of Sweden are chiefly in the hands of private companies which on an average control but little more than twenty-five miles each. The total mileage of Sweden is 5,970, and that of Norway 970.
The first line of railroad in the Russian Empire was constructed from St. Petersburg, sixteen miles, to Tsarskoji-Sielo, in 1842. The St. Petersburg and Moscow line was opened in 1851. Railroad building then stagnated until after the Crimean War, when a large number of lines were constructed at once. The roads were surveyed by the government, but constructed and operated by private companies.
State aid was, however, freely given. During the past ten years the Russian government has directed its attention to the development of the railroad system in its Asiatic possessions. A railway between the Black and Caspian seas was completed in 1883, and the Siberian railroad is extended as fast as the financial condition of the empire permits. There are now about 20,000 miles of road in the Russian Empire operated by private companies. The construction of a large number of the Russian railways was dictated by military rather than commercial considerations. Maximum rates are specified in charter, and every change of rates must be approved by the Minister of Finance.
In the Balkan Peninsula railroad facilities are still ill provided for. A few lines have been built, but these are, as a rule, badly managed. Trains are slow, and rates often so high as to be prohibitory. Roumania has undoubtedly the best railroad system of any of the Balkan states, the government controlling 1,000 miles of road. Greece is also making some progress and has at the present time 610 miles of railway. There is reason to believe that through communication will soon be established in these countries on a larger scale.
The introduction of the railway into Asia has been, except in the Russian and English possessions, a very difficult task. The conservatism or ignorance of the governments and the superstition of the people combined to throw numberless obstacles before those who proposed to pave the way for the iron horse. British India opened her first railway for public traffic between Bombay and Tannah on November 18, 1852. In 1855 she had 841 miles of road, which increased to 6,515 miles in 1875 and to 15,828 miles in 1889, of which 8,423 miles were owned and operated by the state. The total cost of these roads was $880,000,000.
In Asiatic Turkey the first line was opened between Smyrna and Trianda on the 24th day of December, 1860. This line was in 1866 extended to Aiden, and in 1882 to Sarakio. There are at present five lines with a total extent of 446 miles, all owned by English companies. New lines, covering in all 3,952 miles, have recently been projected.
The first line in Persia, only seven miles long, and extending from Teheran to Schah-Abdal-Azzim, was opened on the 25th day of June, 1888. Another line, from the Caspian Sea to Amol, is now in process of construction. A line was opened last September between Joppa and Jerusalem. It is 53 miles in length.
Japan may be said to be already thoroughly familiar with the European system. The first and principal line was opened on the island of Napon, between Tokio and Yokohama, on the 14th of October, 1872. Two other short lines followed in 1874 and 1876, when the total extent of the Japanese roads was about 135 miles. In 1883 the construction of the Grand Trunk Railroad, from Tokio to Kioto, was commenced, which line has been in operation for the past five years. Other lines, aggregating over 400 miles, will soon be opened for traffic. The total extent of road in operation in 1888 was 580 miles, 310 of which were controlled by the state, and the remainder by private companies. In 1890 the total number of miles exceeded 900. The total average cost per mile was $58,000.
No nation has probably opposed the introduction of the railway as stubbornly as the Chinese. The first railroad, scarcely seven miles long, was built by an English company near Kaiping to facilitate the transportation of coal from the mines in that vicinity. In 1886 a Chinese company purchased this line and has since extended it to Tientsin, making its present length about eighty-four miles. The Chinese government has recently authorized the further extension of this line to Yangchou, a place but a few miles distant from Pekin.
Of the Asiatic islands Java has the largest and oldest railroad system. On the 10th of August, 1867, the first line was opened between Samarang and Tangveng. Other coast lines have since been constructed, but communication is still sadly neglected in the interior. In 1889 there were operated on the island nearly 800 miles of road, the greater part being the property of private companies.
A road was opened upon the island of Ceylon between Colombo and Kandy in 1867, to which several branch lines and extensions have since been added. The total system comprises at present about 180 miles.
Short lines have also been built in Burmah (1889); in the Malay Peninsula (1885), in Sumatra (1876), and in Cochin China (1885). A line from Bangkok to Bianghsen, in Siam, is being projected at the present time.
In Africa, if we except its northern coast, the construction of railroads has only kept pace with the slow development of the resources of that continent. Its European colonies are still but thinly inhabited, and their industrial and commercial life still resembles much that of the American colonies of the seventeenth century. There can be little doubt, however, that with the increasing immigration the growing demand for better transportation facilities will speedily be met by European capital.
The first railroad upon African soil was built by the Egyptian government from Alexandria to Cairo, and from there through the desert to Suez. A part of this line, 130 miles long, was opened to traffic in 1856, and the remaining ninety miles the year following. Nothing further was done until after Ismail Pasha ascended the throne, in 1863. The railroad system of Lower Egypt, between Alexandria in the west, Cairo in the south, and Ismaila in the east, was then greatly extended and the service materially improved.
After the opening of the Suez Canal the line through the desert to Suez was abandoned. The railroad system of Egypt comprises at present about 1,250 miles, all of which belongs to the government except two short lines which are private property.
The beginning of the railroad system of Algiers dates back to 1860, when the French government gave a charter to the Companie des Chemins de Fer Algerians, authorizing it to build a number of lines connecting the principal cities of the province with the Mediterranean. The line from Algiers to Blidah, thirty-two miles long, was opened on September 8, 1862. Further construction was then delayed until 1863, when the charter of the original company was transferred to the Paris, Lyons and Mediterranean Railroad Company. The original plans were then in the main carried out, until the disturbances caused by the Franco-Prussian war again put an end to railroad enterprises. In 1874 three new companies were chartered and railroad building was resumed. In 1888 the Algerian railroad system comprised 1,350 miles.
The first road in Tunis was built in 1872 from the city of Tunis to Bardo and Gouletta by English capitalists. It was, in 1880, sold to an Italian company to which the Italian government for political reasons had seen fit to guarantee certain dividends. Other small lines have since been constructed, and more important ones have been prospected. The number of miles at present in operation is 153.
The French colony on the Senegal River has a number of short lines, of which the first was opened in July, 1883. These lines aggregate at present about 200 miles. It is now contemplated to extend this system to the upper Niger. This would necessitate the construction of 240 additional miles of road.
The Cape Colony has the largest mileage of any of the European colonies in Africa, the absence of navigable rivers rendering railroads here more necessary than elsewhere. The first line was opened on the 13th of February, 1862. It then extended from Cape Town to Earste River, but was extended to Wellington the following year. The number of miles of road in operation in 1875 was 906, and in 1891 it had increased to 2,067. All the roads of the colony, excepting a line of 93 miles belonging to the Cape Copper Mining Company, are operated by the colonial government. Their net revenue in 1886 was 2.84 per cent. of the capital actually invested.
Port Natal built her first railroad in 1860. It was only two miles long and extended from the city of Durban to its harbor. Since then several inland lines, aggregating over four hundred miles, have been constructed at a cost of twenty-two million dollars. The roads are operated by the colonial government and yielded in 1891 a net revenue of 4.4 per cent. on the capital expended.
Short lines have also been built on Mauritius and Reunion, and there is now every indication that Portuguese Africa and the Congo State will be provided with railroad facilities in the near future.
The introduction of railroads into Australia dates back to the sixth decade of the present century. The total number of miles of road reported in 1889 by the several colonies was 8,883. If we estimate the population of the continent at 3,000,000 for that year it will be seen that Australia has more miles of road per capita than any other grand division of the globe, save North America.
New South Wales, the mother colony of the Australian continent, opened its first road on September 26, 1855, between Sydney and Paramalta. This road was built by a private company, but was soon after its completion purchased by the colonial government, and was in 1869 extended to Goulbourn. In 1875 the colony had only 436 miles of road in operation. The mountains, however, which separated the wide plains of the interior from the coast had been surmounted, and the government commenced to push the construction of new roads with great vigor. At the end of the year 1886 New South Wales had no less than 1,888 miles of road in operation, for which the colony had expended $113,000,000. The net revenue during that year was 2.9 per cent. on the capital invested. The total number of miles of railroad in this colony was 2,247 in 1889.
Victoria, the smallest of the colonies, has made by far the greatest progress in railroad building. The first road in the colony, and, in fact, the first road upon the Australian continent, was built in 1854 between the city of Melbourne and its port, a distance of two and one-half miles. Within the next five years four other lines were constructed, connecting Melbourne with Williamstown, St. Kilda, Brighton and Echuca, respectively. In 1870 there were in the colony 275 miles of railroad, which had increased to 1,198 miles in 1880, and to 2,283 miles in 1889. Several of the roads were originally owned by private companies, but all of them were in time acquired by the colonial government, the last one in 1878. The total capital invested in 1887 was $125,000,000, which yielded a net revenue of $5,800,000. All lines are under the control of a board so constituted as to be entirely removed from political influence.
In South Australia a short line was built in 1856 from the city of Adelaide to Port Adelaide. Another line was constructed in 1857 from Adelaide to Salisbury, which three years later was extended to Kapunda. The colony had then forty miles of road. The increase during the next decade was only ninety-three miles. Since then the development has been much more rapid, the whole system of railroads comprising 1,752 miles in 1889. All the roads save a few suburban lines are owned and operated by the colony. Their total cost is not far from $60,000,000, and their net annual revenue is about two and one-half per cent. of the capital invested.
The colony of Queensland has only a system of narrow-gauge roads, with the construction of which it commenced in 1865. Up to September, 1887, the colonial government had constructed 1,641 miles of road at a total cost of $47,700,000. The total number of miles has since been increased to 2,058. The net revenue of the roads was a little over one million dollars in 1886.