« AnteriorContinuar »
the early decades of the nineteenth century, the main trans
portation of grain was by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to the Gulf. Buffalo handled less flour than New Orleans as late as 1840. New Orleans received 221,000 barrels of flour in 1832, and this rose to over a million annually in the sixth decade. The Erie canal, opened in 1825, turned the cereal movement eastward to New York, and soon that city became the chief commercial center of the western hemisphere. Already before the Civil war, the grain traffic of the Mississippi river began to decrease in comparison with that of the Great Lakes. In 1836 the first shipment of grain from Lake Michigan took place, and two years later Chicago made its first consignment. The opening of the eastern route immediately shifted the wheat center westward and gave a great impetus to the development of the north central states. An all-rail route was established between Chicago and the Atlantic ocean in 1852. In 1859 the four leading wheat states were Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, and they transported their surplus to the seaboard chiefly by water. When the Civil war closed the Mississippi river, freight rose so high “that it cost more than five times as much to transport a bushel of wheat from Iowa to New York as the farmer received for it.’’’ Shipments by rail began in 1856. By the seventh decade, the railroads had developed sufficiently to compete with the water route to the Atlantic coast. By the end of this decade the railroads were in the ascendancy in the struggle, having secured the bulk of the flour, and about two-thirds of all grains. On an average, however, only about one-third of the wheat has been carried by rail. On account of the favorable location of Chicago, the roads from this city have been most successful in the competition. As early as 1876, 83 per cent of all the grain shipped to the Atlantic seaboard was by rail. Much grain was and is shipped by a part water and part rail route, for the Erie canal has fallen into comparative disuse. A close parallel to this competition is found in the competition between the Canadian railways and the Welland canal. The participation of railroads in the eastern grain traffic in the United States and Canada, and also of the Welland canal in Canada, besides extending the grain area and severing it from its dependence on the lake region, had the important effect of creating direct routes from the west to seaboard cities other than New York and New Orleans. This resulted in a competition between the Atlantic seaboard cities for the grain trade, and a considerable loss of traffic from New York to such cities as Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Of the competing roads to the Atlantic, the New York Central had the greatest natural advantages. By means of reckless competition, however, other roads wrested differential concessions from the Central. The trunk lines endeavored to equalize opportunities for securing eastward traffic by agreeing that the less favored roads should maintain rates that were lower in proportion to their disadvantages. This differential arrangement began in 1869, and in different forms it has been maintained since that date. It has been claimed that New York was not as progressive as other Atlantic ports in methods of handling grain. The net resultant of the differential and of other causes was a decline in the proportion of the grain trade done by New York, for grain could move more economically from the primary markets to Europe by way of ports north and south of New York; Chicago grain reached Europe more largely through Canadian facilities. The southern movement of the grain traffic is the next phase to be considered. This is characterized by a competition first between the southern railroads and the Mississippi, and subsequently between the southern and eastern railroads. It resulted in southern railroads securing the bulk of the grain traffic from the Mississippi, and they are diverting a continually increasing quantity of grain from the Atlantic coast. In 1873 New Orleans participated to the extent of less than 0.5 per cent in the wheat export. But little of the south-bound grain was then intended for export, while about 20 per cent of the east-bound grain was exported. In the early seventies about 75 per cent of the south-bound grain was shipped by water and 25 per cent by rail. Before the close of the nineteenth century this ratio was reversed, less than 25 per cent of the grain being shipped by water. Thus the railroads, both on the eastern and southern routes, demonstrated their capacity to compete successfully with water transportation. For 50 years or more, competition among the railroads, and between the railroads and the eastern water
* 8th U. S. Census, Agriculture, p. xli.
route, has centered in Chicago. The most recent phase of the competition for the great bulk of the wheat grown in the north central portion of the United States is that of the competition between the eastern and southern railroads. Of Atlantic ports, New York alone is falling behind in commerce. New York once held 75 per cent of the nation's commerce, but now holds less than 50 per cent. This tendency towards a division of commerce among different cities is eminently a healthful one. The construction of the New York state barge canal has been advocated as a means of enabling New York to regain and retain the grain trade. In view of the successful competition of the railroads with water routes, however, as well as the competition of the Canadian canal and the St. Lawrence, it is not probable that the proposed canal would attain the object aimed at. The question is, however, still considered an open one. While differentials have exerted a great influence tending to distribute export grain among the different seaboard cities, the securing of through-railroad connections has also been a prime factor in diverting traffic. Within the past 15 years, New Orleans and Galveston secured through connections, which enabled them to receive grain shipped from the primary markets of the southwest at a rate below that which was prevailing to the Atlantic seaboard. Consequently the importance of the Gulf cities as grain ports, and especially as wheat ports, has greatly increased. The percentage of wheat exported from the Gulf ports has risen steadily from 2 per cent in 1884 to 55 per cent in 1904, and the percentage for the Atlantic ports decreased from 59 per cent to 20 per cent during the same period. The corresponding variations in the percentages for both wheat and flour were from 2 to 28 per cent for the Gulf ports, and from 69 to 48 per cent for the Atlantic ports. Within recent years through railroad connections have also greatly aided Newport News as an exporting city of wheat from the Atlantic coast. Distance from Seaport to Primary Market is another factor in determining the direction taken by export grain. Some of the principle distances in miles by the best routes are as follows: From Duluth to Portland, Maine, 1330, to Boston 1400, and to Baltimore via Chicago, 1280; Chicago to Baltimore 802, 1 U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of Statistics, Bul. 38 (1905), pp. 10-28. and to New Orleans 914; St. Louis to Mobile 644, and to Baltimore 930; and Kansas City to Galveston 873. The railroads which cross the Allegheny mountains are not as level as those which follow the shores of the great Lakes, or as those whicli extend down the Mississippi valley, and as a consequence it costs them more to carry grain. The Gulf ports have a disadvantage on account of the tropical character of their climate, for flour and wheat, especially if northern grown, are more apt to deteriorate there than in a cooler climate. Wheat Grown on the Pacific Coast passes into the export channels through the Pacific ports. This trade is very distinct from the rest of the wheat trade of the United States. It formed about 33 per cent of the total export trade in the ninth decade, but the amount fell to less than 25 per cent by 1900. Under abnormal conditions in 1905, however, the Pacific coast exports were 92 per cent of the wheat, and 41 per cent of the wheat and flour. It is probable that the development of Oriental commerce and western transportation facilities will increase the wheat exports from the Pacific coast. Lake Shipments.-In 1867 the iron steamship was rapidly replacing sailing vessels on the Great Lakes. In 1900 the largest class of lake vessels, known as “whalebacks,” carried 250,000 bushels of wheat in a single load. This amount rose to 380,000 bushels in 1906. At 12.5 bushel per acre, one shipload represents the wheat harvested from 30,400 acres of land. In point of tonnage, Duluth, on Lake Superior, was the second port in the United States at the close of the nineteenth century, having been exceeded by New York only. The Sault Sainte Marie canal carried 2.5 times as much tonnage in eight months as the Suez canal in a whole year. During October, 1902, 14,971,318 bushels of east-bound wheat passed through this canal, and also 1,298,751 barrels of flour. Statistics Pertaining to Rail Shipments.--An empty car weighs on an average about one-third of the gross weight of a loaded car. Twenty years ago 1,020 tons net weight was the best load of grain that could be hauled in one train in the United States. The maximum weight (dead and paying load) hauled by the New York Central in ordinary grain practice is at present from 3,300 to 3,500 tons in a train containing over 60 cars of 30 tons of paying load each; 80 cars having a gross