« AnteriorContinuar »
water systems, and have complete machinery for cleaning, drying and scouring the wheat, when it is necessary." The 28 elevators of Buffalo have a capacity of about 22,000,000 bushels, and the estimated cost of their construction is $13,000,000. Long spouts containing movable buckets can be lowered from the elevators into the hold of a grain laden vessel. Great steam shovels draw the grain to the end of these spouts, where it is seized by the buckets and carried to the elevator. The 28 elevators have facilities for receiving from lake vessels and railroads and transporting to cars and canal boats an aggregate of 5,500,000 bushels daily. Wheat is unloaded from vessels at the rate of 100,000 bushels per hour, while spouts on the other side of the elevator reload it into cars, 5 to 10 at a time. A 1,000bushel car is filled in 3 minutes, and the largest canal boat in less than an hour. About December 31, 1905, 6,151,693 bushels of wheat were afloat in the harbor of Buffalo.
There is often a community of interest in the management of railroads and elevators, as is shown by their methods of operation and by the fact that the same men have heavy investments in both railroads and elevators. Where the railroads owned their own storehouses they generally found it impracticable to trade in grain themselves. They made operating agreements or sales in such a manner that companies or individuals would do this work for them. These companies became the medium through which practically all the cereals tributary to the respective lines of road on which they operated must go to market. Where laws prohibited a public warehouseman from trading in grain, other companies were organized, working in conjunction with warehousemen, to handle the business.
Financially, the elevator consolidations have brought money from the great public money market of the world. On this account the rate of interest has fallen, which has been a disadvantage to the local capitalist with small capital. Without the present system of elevators a farming community would be much worse off than under existing conditions, but from the farmer's point of view there is ample room for improvement in the present system. If the competitive system is to give way to organization, the farmer must receive his proper share of the benefits arising from the co-operation of all the interests involved, for the foundation of the whole system rests on the prosperity of the wheat-grower.
Storage of Wheat at the Seaboard.—The elevators at the seaboard are not as large as those at the primary markets. The largest storage capacity of an elevator on the Atlantic coast at present is 1,800,000 bushels. Such an elevator can unload grain cars at the rate of 560,000 bushels per day and simultaneously it delivers grain to vessels at the rate of 1,000,000 bushels per day. An ocean steamship pier is usually about 250 feet wide and about 800 feet long. The railroad tracks are in the middle of the pier, and ocean vessels are moored on either side. The capacity for handling cars depends upon the size of the terminal, and varies from 65 to 1,000 cars per day. Grain in bulk is easily loaded on a vessel by transferring it through spouts running from the elevator to the hold of the ship. There are also two different arrangements for loading grain on a vessel while it is alongside a pier taking on board other freight. One arrangement consists of a series of belt conveyors which carry the grain along a gallery above the pier. The grain is transferred to the hold through spouts lowered from the sides of the gallery to the hatches of the vessel. The other method of loading is by means of a floating elevator, and it is used when the grain is loaded from boats. The latter are towed alongside the vessel, and the floating elevator transfers the grain from them through the hatches of the ship.
New York and New Orleans are the only seaports where the docks and wharves are largely under the ownership and control of city government. The stationary grain elevators of New York have a total storage capacity of about 17,000,000 bushels, and they are able to transfer over 375,000 bushels of grain per hour. From 5,000 to 14,000 bushels per hour can be transferred by each of the floating elevators, which have a combined capacity of 178,000 bushels per hour. It has been estimated that the New York elevators, working 10 hours per day, could transfer in 30 days the 157,280,351 bushels of wheat exported from the United States in the fiscal year of 1892.
Philadelphia has five stationary elevators and three floating elevators. The total storage capacity in 1904 was over 4,000,000 bushels. One thousand carloads of grain, or 800,000 bushels, could be received in a 10-hour day, and at the same time 1,380,000 bushels of grain could be delivered. The largest elevator at present has a capacity of 10,000 bushels per hour. Baltimore has 6 grain elevators. The total storage capacity is 5,350,000 bushels. One of the elevators can store 1,800,000 bushels, and it has a daily delivering capacity of 1,000,000 bushels. The four elevators at tidewater in Boston can store 3,000,000 bushels, and they can handle, in and out, approximately 100,000 bushels per hour. Galveston, Texas, has 4 elevators, with a combined storage capacity of 4,000,000 bushels. There are no grain elevators on the Pacific coast. Large grain warehouses supplied with cleaning and grading plants are found at the ports, however. The sacks of wheat are often simply piled on the banks of the river. When the deck of the vessel to be loaded is at a lower elevation than the grain, the sacked wheat is placed on an inclined chute over which it descends by gravity into the hold of the vessel. When the deck is at a higher elevation than the grain, the sacks are first elevated by a conveyor, consisting of a chute and an endless belt, and then descend. It requires 3 or 4 days by these methods to load a ship carrying from 3,000 to 3,500 tons of wheat. At Portland, Oregon, there are 14 wheat docks (meaning warehouses), and 350 cars of wheat can easily be put in storage in one day. One is inclined to question the economy of the whole system of handling wheat in sacks.
Legislation Pertaining to Public Elevators and warehouses was passed first in Illinois (1870). The usual subjects of legislative enactment affecting the storage of wheat are: The classification and definition of public and private warehouses; the licensing of public warehouses; the requiring of bonds with approved security from warehousemen; discriminations; warehouse receipts; grain inspection; prompt delivery; statements of grain in store; accidental losses of grain in storage; the mixing and selecting of grain by the warehousemen; combinations of warehousemen; and the negotiability of warehouse receipts.
Storage Charges.—Concentration of the wheat trade and through shipments have eliminated many of the charges incident to the storage and handling of wheat. In Minnesota and the Dakotas in 1900, storage was usually free for the first 15 days, and after that the rate was 2 cents a bushel for the first 30 days, and half a cent a bushel for each additional 30 days.
Wheat was stored the entire year in elevators, and sometimes for 2 or 3 years. The expense per bushel of wheat in operating a line elevator was given as 2.25 cents if 50,000 bushels were handled annually, and 1.75 cents if 100,000 bushels were handled. Very few houses handled 100,000 bushels of wheat in a year. Three-fourths cent per bushel was charged for transferring grain from a car to an elevator and into another car. It has been estimated that the cost was only one-eighth cent.
In 1885 the country elevator charge was from 3 to 5 cents per bushel. In 1900 it was from 0.5 cent to 2 cents. Elevator transfer charges were 1.25 cents in Chicago in 1885, and 0.75 cent at the close of the century. The usual commission for selling on consignment at the terminal markets in 1900 was one cent a bushel. Inspection and weighing charges amounted to 0.01 cent per bushel. About 80 per cent of the charges involved in concentrating wheat in Chicago were railroad charges and 20 per cent were commercial charges. Charges made per car were usually those of inspection, 25 to 30 cents, and weighing, 15 to 30 cents. Storage charges at the terminal elevators were about 1 cent per bushel for the first 10 days or any part thereof, and about one-fourth cent for each additional 10 days or any part thereof. Charges for recleaning grain were from 1 to 2 cents per bushel.
In New York the charges on grain in store are, for receiving, weighing and discharging sound grain, including storage for 10 days or a part thereof, five-eighths cent per bushel, and for every succeeding 10 days or a part thereof, one-fourth cent a bushel. There is extra storage of half a cent per bushel on grain delivered to ocean vessels. Screening and blowing on receipt or delivery costs one-eighth cent per bushel. This may also include mixing. Inspection charges are 25 cents per 1,000 bushels. This, and verification of track weights, involves a charge of 50 cents per car load. One cent per bushel is the charge of weighing and discharging track wheat. Grain loaded from elevator to car is charged one-half cent per bushel, and that transferred while in store one-fourth cent per bushel. At Buffalo the cost for elevating is 0.5 cent per bushel, but this includes free storage for 10 days. If the grain is left in storage longer than 10 days, the charge is 0.25 cents for each day.