« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
This result will also be of incalculable advantage to the entire commercial interests of the Mississippi River and of the States bordering upon it and its tributaries.
THE MISSOURI RIVER.
The Missouri River is navigable to Fort Benton, in the Territory of Montana, for steamers of the smaller class. Navigation on this river is however confined to four or five months each year during favorable stages of the river. Since the construction of the Central Pacific Rail. roads and the railroads leading west from Saint Louis, the traffic on the Missouri River has decreased.
THE OHIO RIVER. The Ohio River, like the Upper Mississippi and the Missouri, is subject to great fluctuations as to its navigable stage, but it is much less ob. structed by ice. It is an exceedingly important commercial highway, not only as a competitor of the railroads with respect to the transportation of general freights, but especially as being the only practicable highway for the transportation of coal from the vast coal-fields of Pennsylvania and West Virginia to points below as far as New Orleans. At the present time the city of Pittsburgh is the principal center of the coal-trade of Western Pennsylvania. The shipments of coal by river from that city during the year 1876 amounted to 62,395,000 bushels, or 2,495,800 tons.
The value of the steamers, barges, and boats owned at Pittsburgh and employed in the coal-business is estimated at $5,000,000. Almost all the coal consumed in the cities and towns on the Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries below Saint Louis is obtained from this section. The steamers on the Mississippi River and the ocean.steamers from New Orleans also depend upon this source of supply. During a single rise in the river 46 fleets, comprising 369 barges and carrying 4,156,000 bushels of coal, have left Pittsburgh within the space of three days.
The Ohio River is subject to greater fluctuations as to its depth of water than any other tributary of the Mississippi. The extreme rise and fall at Cincinnati is 624 feet. Its descent from Pittsburgh to Cairo, a distance of 963 miles, is 426 feet. In consequence of this great descent the velocity of the current is from 14 to 34 miles per hour. The coaltows of Pittsburgh, consisting of barges and the steamers which propel them, require a depth of 6 feet of water in order to pass down with safety. These tows and fleets of tows also require a wide channel in order that they may be navigated safely and economically.
As the Ohio River above Cincinnati sometimes falls to a depth of about two to three feet, navigation on that portion of it is oftentimes suspended for several months. At and below Cincinnati navigation generally continues either for the larger or smaller class of steamers about eleven months each year. For the transportation of coal, ironore, and other minerals, the Ohio River is an invaluable commercial high way. The cost of transporting coal from Pittsburgh to Louisville and to New Orleans is about one-half of one mill per ton per mile. This is only one-ninth of the rate which prevailed during several months of the past year for the transportation of grain from Chicago to New York, viz, 20 cents per one hundred pounds, or 44 mills per ton per mile, a rate less than almost any other rail-rate known in this country, and believed to have been unremunerative, and maintained only as the result of a railroad war.
The importance of the Ohio River as a commercial highway may be appreciated when it is considered that many towns and cities in the Western and Southwestern States are in a great measure dependent upon a cheap supply of coal from Western Pennsylvania and West Virgivia, and that bordering upon the upper waters of the Ohio there are coal-fields embracing a territory of 122,000 square miles, an area nearly nine times as large as the coal-fields of Great Britain, France, and Belgium combined.
The Louisville and Portland Canal.—The Louisville and Portland Canal, around the Falls of the Ohio, at Louisville, Ky., is one of the most important public improvements ever undertaken by the Government of the United States. This work has cost $3,288,603, but the commercial advantages realized from it in a single year have greatly exceeded tbis large expenditure. Within the last two years the United States Gor. ernment has secured the entire control of this work, and the tolls for the passage of boats through it have been reduced from 50 cents to 10 cents per ton, boat-measurement. This has afforded great relief to the immense coal-traffic of the Ohio River.
Much valuable information in regard to this work and in regard to the commerce of the Ohio River may be found in the statements presented to this Department by Mr. Sidney D. Maxwell, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Cincinnati, Ohio, and by Mr. (. H. Pope, of Louisville, Ky. (Appendix, pages 114 and 199.)
THE CUMBERLAND RIVER.
The Cumberland River, from its mouth to Clarksville, Tenn., is navi. gable during the entire year for boats of 12 inches draught, during about ten months for boats of 21 inches draught, and during eight or nine months for boats of 3 feet draught.
Light-draught boats requiring only from 10 to 12 inches of water can generally run to Nashville nearly the whole year, and boats of from 16 to 20 inches draught can run for about six months (from December to June) each year. Light-draught boats run to Point Burnside, 125 miles above Nashville, during the whole year, and to the crossing of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, 450 miles above Nashville, during six months in the year, viz, from about December 1 to June 1. The low rates on competing railroads have tended to divert much traffic from the Cumberland River.
From the mouth of the Tennessee River to Eastport, 15 miles below Florence, Ala., boats drawing about 3 feet of water can run during the whole year, and from December to June such boats usually run as far as Florence, Ala. From Florence to Decatur, 12 miles, navigation is interrupted by the Muscle shoals. From Decatur to Guntersville, 325 miles, boats run during the whole year, but between Decatur and Bridgeport only for about ten months of the year. Boats very seldom pass from Bridgeport up to Chattanooga, on account of obstructions in the river. Between Chattanooga and Kingston (about 100 miles by land from Chattanooga) boats are run the entire year, and between Chattanooga and Knoxville for about ten months each year.
During the winter-months steamers navigate the Hiwassee River as far up as Charleston; the Clinch River, above Kingston, a distance of 30 or 40 miles, and the Little Tennessee River as far up as the mouth of Tellico River. Sometimes boats pass up the Eolston and French Broad Rivers. The products of East Tennessee above Knoxville are generally shipped on flat-boats.
The United States Government is now constructing a canal around the Muscle Shoals of sufficient size for the passage of steamboats. Considerable progress has also been made within a few years in the improvement of the river above Chattanooga.
The two interruptions to the navigation of the Tennessee River, viz, the Muscle Shoals, and the shoals between Bridgeport and Chattanooga, now destroy the value of the Tennessee River as a line of transport from the head of navigation to its intersection with the Obio. Below Decatur, however, the Tennessee affords the benefits of competition to the various railroads connecting the States of Tennessee and Kentucky with the Golf States, and to this extent it is of considerable commercial importance. The construction of the Muscle Shoals canal and the improvement of the river both above and below these obstructions will afford the means of developing vast coal and other mineral resources in the northern part of the States of Georgia and Alabama and in the eastern section of the State of Tennessee.
THE ARKANSAS RIVER. The Arkansas River is navigable for large steamers to Little Rock, Ark., and beyond the western border of the State for steamers of a smaller class, during favorable stages of the river. The commerce of the territory of which it was formerly the chief line of transportation is now, to a large extent, shared by railroads extending west from the Mississippi River and also by the two lines extending in a southwesterly direction from Saint Louis to the State of Texas.
THE WISCONSIN AND FOX RIVERS IMPROVEMENT. The extension of a northern water-line to the Mississippi River by the construction of the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers improvement is a work especially worthy of notice, it being now under the ownership and control of the United States Government. A large amount of money has already been expended upon it. It is believed that this line will become a valuable competitor to the railroads connecting the States of Iowa and Minnesota with Lakes Superior and Michigan.
It is believed that an expenditure of about $3,000,000 will be required in order to complete the enterprise. The improvement embraces a canal across a portage of only 14 miles in width, separating the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers, the improvement of the Fox River by means of slack-water navigation, and the improvement of the Wisconsin River by means of slack-water navigation, by contracting its channel at certain points, or by the construction of a canal from the portage to its mouth, as the engineers in charge may determine.
The locks on this line of improvement will be 160 feet long, 35 feet wide, and have a depth of water in the canal-portions of 3 feet, admitting the passage of boats of 500 tons. The Erie Canal has locks 110 feet long, 18 feet wide, and a depth of 7 feet, admitting the passage of boats of only 200 tons. It is intended that barges, such as are employed on the Mississippi River, shall pass through the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers improvement from the Mississippi River to the head of Green Bay.
The merits of this enterprise are very fully set forth in the report of the Senate Committee on Transportation. (Report 307, Forty-third Congress, first session.)
GENERAL REMARKS IN REGARD TO WATER-LINES.
The United States Government has already expended a large amount of money in the improvement of the rivers and harbors and of navigable waters within the United States. Valuable commercial results have already been realized from these expenditures, and it is beliered that much more valuable results may be realized from the judicious expenditures of money in the same direction.
In addition to the water-lines already mentioned, there are certain projected lines which have engaged public attention. These are : first, the proposed Caughnawaga and Champlain Ship Canal; second, the Oneida Lake route from Oswego to Troy, N. Y.; third, the James River and Kanawha Canal, or Central Water-line from Richmond, Va., to the Ohio River; fourth, the Atlantic and Great Western Canal from Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, to Macon, Ga., in connection with slack. water navigation on the Coosa River, and the improvement of the Chattahoochee River from Macon to its mouth; and, fifth, the Rock Island and Hennepin Canal. These and other projected water-lines are fully treated of in the report of the Senate Committee on Transportation (Senate Document No. 307, Forty-third Congress, first session.)
All the water-lines herein before mentioned are delineated on map No. 2, at the end of this report.
5. THE COMPETITIVE FORCES WHICH EXERT A CONTROLLING INFLUENCE OVER THE MOVEMENTS OF THE INTERNAL COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
The subject of competition presents itself under two very important aspects: first, as a force controlling or exercising a strong influence over the movements of commerce, and, second, as a regulator of freight-rates. It is not proposed to enter here upon an exhaustive discussion of the question as to how far competition may be relied upon as a regulator of rail-rates, nor is it proposed to investigate fully the question as to how far competition produces or checks discriminations in freight. charges; for, under different circumstances, it tends to both these results. The subject can only be considered in a somewhat general manner.
Competition exists under very complicated conditions with respect to the "through traffic" between different sections of the country, and in so far as relates to the end of securing cheap transportation it is an effective, although not an absolute, regulator of through rates. It does not prevent certain discriminations with respect to the interests of rival commercial centers, nor does it prevent exorbitant local rates or discriminations against local traffic. In certain cases, combination in a great degree suppresses competition, but it has been found that where there are many competing lines, these lines have so few interests in common that it is very difficult to maintain agreements as to competitive rates. The trunk lines at all times engage in through traffic at rates very much below those which prevail where there is little or no competition, and in some cases, they are forced to engage in competitive traffic at an absolute loss,
Generally it may be said that the competition of rival lines and of rival markets is much less effective as a regulator of local than of through rates; but in regard to a very considerable proportion of the local traffic of the country the influence of the competition of product with product in various degrees limits rates. In many cases the competition of the markets exerts but little influence, and between the extremes of the in. fluence of this competition over both through and local rates, it asserts itself in every gradation of force and under an almost infinite variety of circumstances.
As the local traffic of railroads constitutes a very much larger pro. portion of the commerce of the chief Atlantic sea-ports than does their commerce with the Western and Northwestern States, it is evident that the railroad problem presents to each of those cities many questions of vital importance, which cannot be considered in a report especially devoted to the commercial movements between States and between different sections of the country, and the circumstances and conditions which characterize those movements.
The present consideration of the results of competition relates to some things which it does, rather than to what it does not do. The latter subject opens an almost illimitable field for inquiry and discussion.