Imágenes de páginas
PDF

all of these primary markets are located at the points where the circumference of an irregular circle intersects the great inland waterways. From each of these centers radiates a fan-shaped net-work of railway lines. In the main, these lines extend to the north, west and south. Sometimes over 25 grain carrying lines come from a single city. Not only do the railroads from any one city compete with each other as carriers of grain, but they also compete with the roads radiating from other cities. The competition is all the more intense because success or failure for certain primary markets in securing the grain often determines whether it goes to the Atlantic or Gulf seaports, and thence to the foreign markets. As a consequence the middle west is well equipped with railway mileage. The net earnings of the railway systems come largely from the grain traffic to the east and south, and from the traffic which this induces in the opposite direction. The movement of wheat from the local markets of the productive areas to the primary centers for subsequent distribution is almost entirely by rail. There is very little water tranN spoliation. In 1899, 50,000,000 bushels of wheat, corn and oats were received in St. Louis. The receipts by wagon were almost equal to those by water, which were little more than a million bushels.

Chicago is the greatest primary grain center in the world, but on account of the great quantity of flour manufactured at Minneapolis, the latter city stands pre-eminent in wheat. During the last decade, there has been a marked increase in the amount of wheat received at Kansas City and St. Louis; the amount at Minneapolis and Chicago has not varied; and the amount at Duluth has declined. Buffalo is a great point of interior concentration for the purpose of forwarding to Atlantic seaports.

Transportation from Primary Market to Seaboard.—In every country the extensive growing and shipping of wheat is closely dependent upon the existence of adequate transportation facilities. To the lack of these the comparative insignificance of the grain traffic of the United States in the eighteenth century was mainly due. This was before the railroad era; canals were developing but slowly; and highway transportation was too expensive to be practicable for any great distance. During

[graphic][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE TRANSPORTATION OF WHEAT 191the early decades of the nineteenth century, the main transportation 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

yof 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."1

Z' 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 se-!cured 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 1 8th IT. S. Census, Agriculture, p. xli.

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 compe;tition 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 com'peting 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 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.1 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, Bui. 38 (1905), pp. 10-28.

« AnteriorContinuar »