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break with foreign grown wheat-or perforce it can not be moved, and the domestic market is glutted. There is at present in this country an indigestible surplus of wheat. Not only for the farmer, but the man the farmer owes and can not pay is holding the sack. As a result a thread of related and harmful consequences is interwoven throughout the fabric of the Nation's business.
What is true of wheat is to a lesser extent true of corn-it likewise faces a subnormal export demand, owing to the pancake pocketbooks of the European masses, who were our former best customers. So you see that the domestic twist is not all there is to the problem of transportation-it is the sum total of all items of cost intermediate the farm and final destination that may make or break the farmer.
AMERICA NOT A HERMIT NATION,
When the troubled seas over there are once more calmed, and the warring millions setle down to the pursuits of peace, then our own great problems of industrial competition will need for their solution the combined wisdom of our greatest statesman. If we were a herinit nation, all would be well, and we would need have no concern in the affairs of the rest of the world. We could then, like the turtle, when danger threatened, simply draw back in our shell and feel secure and self-satisfied behind our "splendid isolation." Isolation be damned. We are not a hermit nation. Our farms and our factories must have world markets in which to sell their surplus goods and to take froni them the things we want but do not ourselves produce. We must police our trade lanes—other nations have a monopoly on a thousand and one articles of commerce that are necessary under our standard of living. We feel we must have coffee, tea, spices, silks and drugs, rubber, sisal, platinum, tin, nitrates, and what not. To bring home the bacon in our trade relations, there must be reciprocity—a swapping of our surplus factory and farm products for their articles of commerce, all of which means transportation in one form or another.
During the war we taught the peoples over there Yankee methods of efficienes; we placed in their hands weapons which sooner or later will be used against us in commercial warfare. That means more and more competition. Should we not therefore proflt by the bitter experience of our late unpreparedness and arm ourselves, industrially and commercially, for the conflict that is bound to come? Knowing the weak points in our foreign as well as domestic trade relations should we not build up the defective parts in our business fighting machine until it becomes rugged and strong-fit for use in any emergency?
To be specific. Our system of rail transportation is undergoing a change of life. There are several contributing causes, such as our natural increase of population, the inability of the weak lines to keep pace with the stronger, the unnecessary multiplication of overhead charges, terminal congestion at the Atlantic seaboard, and the lack of capital for needed expansion. But the new and formidable Richmond in the field is the competition of the water-borne traffic through the Panama Canal. This competition is here to stay, and as time goes on it will become more and more intensive.
CHANGE IN RAIL POLICIES NEEDED.
The railroads are confronted with a real crises that calls for a drastic change in major policy. They must either adjust themselves to present-day conditions with respect to canal and inland-waterways competition or take the consequences. Big and powerful as they are, they can not forever run counter to the mandates of economic law. Nor do I believe that the keen executives of our railroads are blind to the inevitable outcome. They are only sparring for time in which to make the necessary adjustments in an orderly way and to this gradual shrinkage in cross-country business is but one of their many troubles.
They are harassed from within and from without. They are werced into paying an indefensible wage scale to employees and must still pay Far-time prices for their materials and supplies. Like everybody else they must whack up their proportion of the increased taxes that have followed in the wake of the World War. The money they collect from the public in the way of rates and fares must in the aggregate be sufficient to meet all disbursements and include a reasonable return to their myriads of stockholders-or the railroads must collapse. Such a calamity would throw the whole machinery of business out of gear, and that can not be allowed to happen. The railroads, their employees, and the people should come to a mutual understanding and work together by forbearance to tide over this emergency period. The country demands that its rail lines be economically managed and operated, that they be maintained in superb physical condition, and at all times be ready and able to perform their duty as public carriers at the lowest possible cost.
It is from this misconception in the past that much of the transport troubles of the Middle West have arisen. The future holds promise for a better understanding all around. Let us hope that it materializes—and do what we can as interested parties to help in bringing it about.
The immediate and pressing troubles of the Middle West are more or less mixed up with transportation inequalities. Just now, for instance, in addition to the handicap of Pittsburgh plus, which has not a sound leg to stand on, the Middle West is marking time in the matter of moving its factory products to the Pacific coast in competition with the Atlantic seaboard. We failed to realize early enough in the game that the all important item of the cheaper haul through the Canal was destined to work such havoc with the long established rail haul across the country. We of the prairie States know it now, and Congress is busy with the big problem of working out an industrial balance between the East coast and what some day may be known as the “ middle coast."
INLAND WATERWAYS ADJUNCT TO RAILS.
The completion and successful operation of our natural system of inland waterways is the accepted agency for that purpose. The need is so imperative and so apparent and the benefits that will accrue to the food-producing sections of this Nation, and in consequence to the Nation as a whole, are so farreaching that little argument should be required as to the integrity of the proposition. With straight-thinking people it becomes, therefore, only a matter of ways and means.
How, then, can the several divisional projects be best accomplished, and what gross amount will it take to foot the bills? That in a nutshell seems to be the present status of our most outstanding national problems. diNew projects, such, for example, as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence enterprise, that promise merit, but will take a lot of time, may, of course, be scheduled for examination and report, but before our list of things to be done becomes topheavy let's finish at least a few of the main items that have been hanging fire for these long years. Only those projects that have already been examined and approved by our Board of Army Engineers should have consideration by Congress, but that consideration should be framed into such enactments that the work of improvement may be carried on economically and effectively and with as little delay as possible. Lump-sum appropriations on a continuing contract basis are prerequisities to the proper handling of these essential undertakings and no more halfway, piecemeal legislation should be tolerated. We have pussyfooted long enough ; this is a man's sized job, the kind of a job that Roosevelt did when he used the big stick to put through the canal. It is a workingman's job; knickerbockers won't do; whoever gets results must put on his digging clothes and get right down to brass tacks. Our Regular Army engineers, who are trained to the minute, can be relied upon to mop up the situation in record time, if Congress will only give to them the coveted command. President Coolidge has declared himself emphatically in favor of completing the work. No man can be elected leader of this Nation who fails to take an equally positive stand. Both the vitals and the victuals of the country are in the Mississippi Valley. The majority of our people live there, which means that the votes are also there. Our farms and our factories are there, the great bulk of the raw materials, upon which our domestic and foreign commerce is based, originate there. The prosperity of the Nation rests primarily upon the prosperity of the Valley States, for it is there that the meal tickets of the masses are eventually punched.
NO MORE VIRGIN LANDS IN UNITED STATES.
In the memory of those now living are vivid pictures of the conquest of those vast open stretches of our own land, known as the Great Plains and the Far West. There are no longer undiscovered places in continental United States ; the tide
of human progress has swept beyond the Mississippi and across the Rockies to the broad waters of the Pacific. Those who would pioneer with their trade and commerce must now seek other and foreign fields for their activities, they must turn their eyes to Mexico, Central America, South America, and to Africa; and all of these lie to the south and to the east of us, and, except in the case of Mexico and Central America, the sea intervenes. Of necessity ships must share with the rails the burden of the interchange of traffic to and from these new and abundant markets.
Few there are of us who realize the vast extent of the African country ; that it has an area of 11,500,000 square miles, against a bare 10,000,000 square mile for the United States and South America combined; that its population of 145,000,000 equals that of all the countries of North America put together Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Yet with all its acres and peoples, and all its riches, Africa is a “kept” country, for substantially every inch of her territory is colony land of European nations England, France, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal have preferential claims on her commerce. It is only then to the countries to the immediate south of us, to Mexico and to the Central and Southern American States and to part of the Orient that we of the United States can look for something like an even break for our commercial penetration. So that after all is said and done, our best bet for reciprocal trade is with the countries that comprise the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine has guaranteed Latin America against foreign aggression, and our demonstrated good intentions have begun to bear fruit, to the extent at least that our commerce with South America has expanded rapidly of late and now reaches huge proportions. The Mississippi River points in the right direction and offers the line of least resistance for the penetration of American goods into that nonmanufacturing market.
UNITED STATES MISTRESS OF THE SPANISH MAIN.
The United States is fast cementing its hold as mistress of the Caribbean Sea. Our sphere of dominance will soon, let us hope, cover not only all the islands of the Spanish Main, but Mexico and on down to the canal. An extension of the Platt amendment over Mexico will do for that land of perpetual banditry what it has done for Cuba--make it “safe for democracy”—as well as American investments. Let us furnish Mexico all the arms and ammunition she wants-100,000 or a million rounds-but “ f'eaven's sake" let us not overlook a good bet-send along a stalwart United States regular Army soldier behind each and every gun, with instructions to clean up the nasty mess down there once and for all. There is no good reason why we should forever stand for this perennial turmoil on our southern border. It will be the best move all around—best for Mexico and best for the United States—and only what we should do to safeguard our own, as well as foreign interests in that land of manana. We have reached the end of our patience and without further gestures of the Wilson-Bryan brand should now stage a real show for an indefinite run.
SOUTH AMERICA OUR BANNER CUSTOMER. Keep your eye on South America in particular. It is the coming country. In many ways this great continent has already arrived. The Argentines and Uruguay are to-day our foremost competitors in the world's market for foodstuffs.
A few years ago they did not raise enough pork on the Pampas to grease a skillet with, and their cattle were few and of poor breeds. But now in the Republic of Argentina and Uruguay they raise four times as much high grade meat products per capita as we do in the United States. They have great rivers that penetrate the heart of the producing sections, and what is more, they make use of them. The Amazon and the Orinoco are under the Equator, and although navigable, yet climatic conditions largely prelude their development by white men. Not so, however, with the La Plata River, that makes on Rio, and the Parana on Buenos Aires, as the Mississippi does on New Orleans. These powerful streams are each navigable for more than 2,000 miles, and the Parana in particular runs through a territory that is as wide and as rich in both soil and resources as our own great valley of the Mississippi. Because they make use of boat transportation from ports far up in the interior, our South American neighbors are able to land their beef, pork, and mutton at the doors of Europe for much less than it costs us to deliver similar products from our farms of the Middle West.
WATERWAYS DOWN GRADE TO SEA
We might as well look the facts squarely in the face--navigable rivers are the greatest business asset that any nation can posses. They always run down grade to the sea-and the sea is our one wide highway to the markets of the world. It covers three-fourths of the area of the globe our rivers are but arms of the sea.
Harriman, genius that he was, did make a rock-fill for his rails across the Great Salt Lake, but up to date no man has been bold enough to even try to cross the salt waters of the high seas on a railroad grade. We mortals are still confronted with the necessity of conducting our overseas commerce by boat service. The cheapness of this service as compared with rail haulage is almost unbelievable.
[Statement prepared by the Ottawa (III.) Chamber of Commerce, March 11, 1924-Louis
M. Harvey, president ; Lee C. Carroll, secretary---For presentation to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors of the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., in the consideration of the Hull bill, H. R. No. 5475.)
From time immemorial people have graviated toward their waterways. Being the world's most durable and economical traffic bearers, they have been instrumental in building important commercial centers. With the exception of Moscow in Russia and Madrid in Spain, all the world's great cities were built upon waterways.
Little Holland, about one-fourth the size of Illinois, has expended on her canals more than four times the amount expended by our Government since its foundation. Had she owned our rivers, they would have been diked for many years with solid masonry.
LaSalle, Pere Marquette, Louis Joliet, and other pioneer explorers endeavoring to use the Mississippi Valley waterways 250 years ago were obliged to portage. They recommended clearance of the clogged links. Albert Galatin urged this in 1808. It has been the dream of thinking people ever since. Every President from Washington down has concurred in the idea. But we are still obliged to portage.
In the Mississippi Valley system aggregating 22,000 miles of navigable waterways, not a single river has been completed for service. They have, however, given ample proof that as traffic roadways they would be dependable so far as durability is concerned. They are still running as when received from the hands of the Almighty without decay as would have been the case with abandoned railways. They have not lost a single tie or rail.
Delay in improvement of these rivers is a loss every year of wealth amounting to more than would be required for improvement of the whole system and is subjecting our people to a scale of prosperity far lower than necessary.
Waterways are the people's property. Having been placed under Government control, it should receive attention at least equal to that afforded the railroads, which are owned by private individuals. On the other hand, this great asset of the valley has been handled with marked indifference and stupidity. Millions have been expended here and there-not sufficient anywhere at no time enough of money or brains to conserve amount invested. The handling of the Ohio River project affords an example: Begun before the building of the Pan. ama Canal, canalization has barely reached from Pittsburgh to Louisville Although millions have been appropriated in driblets, and 35 locks have been completed, the lower portion of the river, for want of locks and dams, is in periods of low water unnavigable. The low cost of river transportation, however, is so highly appreciated that shippers such as the Pittsburgh Steel Co. the Carnegie Steel Co., the National Tube Co., and others maintain, at great individual expense, large fleets of barges to take advantage of high water in the winter and spring.
The Government has " played horse" with this river.
The Mississippi and Missouri have been subjected to much the same treat ment; intermittent attempts to protect their banks have proved futile. Eno. mous sums have been appropriated in these efforts, to be washed down to the Gulf with land enough to form a State as large as Missouri, all for the lack of ability such as exercised under more difficult conditions in completing the Eades jetties that have controlled the mouth of the Mississippi for the last half century.
The Hennepin Canal is without terminals and barred from the Lakes by obstructions in the Illinois River.
Many streams navigable in spots have impediments somewhere to prevenu through traffic.
The strength of a chain is no greater than its weakest link. A railroad without terminals, with here and there rails or ties missing, would be useless.
The trouble comes from the fact that Congress begins appropriating for a project and quits before it is finished. Waste and incompetent methods might be avoided by creation of a department of Government charged solely with waterway conservation and development.
Nature directed the rivers of the valley to take a southerly course toward a warm climate where they are free from ice for a longer period than more nothern waters. They run through the heart of the continent in the pathway of our greatest commerce. Near their shores lies the most productive region in the world, rich with agriculture, vast forests, mine products, coal, sand, gravel, clay, and manufactured products. They are crossed by all the great trunk-line railroads of the United States and efficiency of the auto truck is increasing.
This combination gives promise of a traffic in the Mississippi Valley, when the rivers shall properly function, greater than in any other region on earth.
The commerce of the Great Lakes amounts to 94,000,000 tons per annum. That of Chicago alone, over 80,000,000.
Recent reports indicate a probability for early agreement between Canada and our Government for, joint prosecution of the St. Lawrence improvement. Such a gateway for the Lakes to the Atlantic would be of wonderful value to commercial interests and would render connection with the Mississippi system more imperative than ever.
The logical means for this connection would be improvement of the Illinois River which from the drainage canal to Utica is already under way. Twenty millions for this project was provided by the State of Illinois 16 years ago. The channel is to be 9 feet in depth and 200 feet wide; five locks capable of passing 9,000 tons each are to be built, located, respectively, at Lockport, Brandon Roads, Dresden Heights, Bell Island (between Marseilles and Ottawa), and one near Starved Rock. They are to be like those of the Ohio, 110 feet wide by 600 feet long, with 14 feet over the miter sills. The lock at Bell Island, except installation of gates, is completed. That at Lockport is under way. This will have a single lift of 41 feet, which is higher than any on the Panama Canal or in the United States.
When completed the Illinois River will constitute a link between the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system; Atlantic ports and Europe on the east, with the Mississippi system, Gulf ports, Panama Canal, South America, Pacific coast, and the Orient on the west.
If this important work is neglected and the great inland rivers remain choked, their contiguous regions landlocked—will be unable to fully participate in the advantages of the lake border or profitable use of the Panama Canal, which instead will continue to be a disadvantage in competition with deep-sea ports.
While the contemplateď St. Lawrence outlet would contribute wonderfully to lake regions, people centrally located in the Mississippi Valley would find it natural for their commerce to seek the markets of the world down the rivers to the Gulf and out to sea.
For many years railroads and politicians have obscured the fact that transportation by water is many times cheaper than by rail and thereby put the great waterway project to sleep. But people are getting their eyes open to see that a load can be moved on water easier than on land and public sentiment throughout the valley in the interest of cheaper freight rates and lower cost of living is favoring waterway improvement.
In a report issued by M. G. Barnes, member of American Society of Civil Engineers and chief engineer of the Division of Waterways, there appears a statement to indicate relative transportation, costs. It shows the number of miles $1 will carry a ton of freight by different methods.
Miles With horse and wagon.
4 Auto truck. Railroad
100 New York Barge Canal.
300 Great Lake freighters--
1, 000 Ohio and Mississippi River, downstream.
3, 000 : Brig. Gen. Frank T. Hines, former chief of transportation, Inland and Coastwise Waterway Service, in a recent article states it in another way. On the Highway a single horse with an ordinary dray can draw 2 tons of freight.