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A very great augmentation of the use of railway facilities has been one of the consequences of the reductions noted. In 1880 the aggregate freight transportation, performed by the railways of the United States, was equivalent to moving 32,348,846,693 tons one mile, or six hundred and fifty-five tons for each man, woman and child among the total population at that time. The freight transportation of 1890 aggregated 76,207,047,298 ton-miles, or 1213 ton-miles per capita, and that of 1898, 114,077,576,305 ton-miles, or 1567 ton-miles (on the basis of a population of 72,801,571, adopted by the Statistician to the Interstate Commerce Commission) per capita. The movement of passengers, by railway, during 1880 was equivalent to carrying 5,740,112,502 persons one mile, and that of 1898 to moving 13,379,930,004 persons one mile. The number moved one mile, per capita of population, was one hundred and fourteen in 1880, one hundred and eighty-nine in 1890, and one hundred and eighty-four in 1898. The decrease during the period subsequent to 1890 was probably due to the rapid development of suburban electric railways and the consequent diversion of local traffic away from the steam railways.
The reduction in charges has also had its effect upon railway earnings and the payments upon railway capital, though economies in operating methods and the superior efficiency of the improved facilities now required have borne an important share in enabling the railway to supply transportation at constantly decreasing rates. The averages in the following table were computed from data published in the reports of the Bureau of Statistics of the United States Treasury Department.
EARNINGS, INTEREST AND DIVIDENDS.
Based on the estimate of population previously used. While inexact, there can be no doubt that this figure is sufficiently accurate to show the general tendency.
The facts shown in the foregoing table are exceedingly important. The column headed "gross earnings” shows that the average gross receipts per mile of line have greatly decreased since 1880, and that the enormous increase during that period, of more than 250 per cent. in freight movement and 130 per cent. in passenger movement, was more than offset by reductions in charges. The column headed "net earnings” shows that there has been an even greater decline in net than in gross receipts, thus affording conclusive evidence that the decline in the latter has not been accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the cost of furnishing transportation, or, in other words, that the reductions in railway rates have diminished the total revenue from railway operations by a greater amount than has been saved by economies in operation, due to more efficient organization and methods and the growth of business. It is obvious that these facts inust have had their effect upon the returns to the owners of railway securities, and the last three columns of the table afford a measure of those consequences. The average amount of interest paid on funded debt, per mile of line, was greater in 1898 than in 1880, but was less than in 1885, 1890 or 1895. The decrease in railway dividends has been even more notable. The average payment, per mile of line, for this purpose, was $939 in 1880, and but 54.74 per cent. of that amount in 1898; the amount for the latter year being lower than that for any other year shown except 1895, when the effects of the panic of 1893 are evident. The averages for interest and dividends are slightly affected by the transformation in the form of railway securities that has taken place since 1880. The percentage of the total par value of such securities now represented by interest-bearing bonds is somewhat larger than in 1880, and this change has tended to increase average interest payments and to decrease average payments for dividends, per mile, but it has by no means accounted for the entire change in these payments, as will be found by examining the last column, which shows their total. The latter has decreased from $2,110 to $1,799, or 14.74 per cent. since 1880.
No one can examine the history of railway development, even as it is here sketched in imperfect outline, without becoming convinced that its consequences must be profoundly impressed upon the industrial life and organization of the nation. In fact there is no other factor in the industrial progress of the United States that is more plainly expressed in its present economic condition. The most significant phases of this condition are, specialization of productive functions, and localization of particular branches of industry. A form of geographical division of labor has been accomplished, in which each region is assigned that particular share in the production of the commodities required for the satisfaction of human wants to which its natural characteristics of soil, climate, and location, render it best adapted. The local communities of the United States are not economically independent, but the industry of their citizens is rendered more effective, the rewards of their labor are more generous, and their toil is less burdensome, because of the existence of means for the interchange of surplus products.
The consequences of railway development are more apparent in connection with agricultural industry than with any other productive occupation which has attracted the energies of the American people. Without railways, and in the absence of mechanical knowledge beyond that now enjoyed, agriculture would have been confined to the limited areas adjacent to the natural waterways, and food for the great eastern centers of population must have been produced in the comparatively infertile districts that lie close to the rivers that drain the Northern Atlantic States. Artificial waterways could never have opened the immense and fertile regions of the great Northwest, and brought the farms of the Dakotas, as railways have brought them, nearer to the Atlantic coast, in time and cost of transportation, than were those of western New York in 1820. The mere enumeration of the great surplus agricultural products of the United States suggests, at once, the dependence of this industry, as now conducted, upon railway transportation. Wheat, corn, live stock, cotton, even small fruits and garden vegetables, are now most largely cultivated in regions far distant from the consumers, for whose use they are provided, and these regions are frequently connected with the localities which contain the latter, by railways only.
In the preliminary report of the Eighth Census, there is an estimate of the tonnage of the various articles carried by rail during the year 1860, from which it appears that of 4,741,773 tons carried, the products of agriculture aggregated 2,142,378 tons, or 45.18 per cent. The same estimate placed the total value of the commodities shipped by rail during 1860 at $773,089,275 and that of the products of agriculture included at $236,433,855, or 30.58 per cent. of the former amount. In 1880, 290,897,395 tons of freight were carried by rail, including 71,325,360 tons of agricultural products; the percentage of the latter to the total tonnage being 24.52. The number of tons carried by rail in 1890 was 640,452,548, of which 82,446,395 were reported as miscellaneous commodities, and as commodities not distributed among the several classes. Of the 558,006,153 tons that were classified, 112,964,685 tons, or 20.24 per cent. consisted of agricultural products. That the large absolute increase in tonnage has been accompanied by a considerable decrease relatively to the total tonnage, is a result of the rapid growth and increased localization of the industries which are not agricultural. The data given are not as satisfactory as statistics showing the movement of the various classes of traffic in tonmiles would be, nor do they afford as complete an idea of the relative importance of railway transportation as a part of the productive process in connection with food products. Tonmile statistics are, however, unfortunately unavailable.
The following table shows data, for the year 1890, similar to those quoted above but classified also by geographical groups:
1 The groups used are those adopted by Professor Henry C. Adams, Statistician to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and also used by him in his report on Land Transportation in the Eleventh Census. These groups are described in the latter report as follows: Group I. Me., N. H., Vt., Mass., R. I., and Conn.
II. Part of N. Y., N. J., part of Pa., Del., Md., and part of W. Va.
V. Ky., Tenn., Miss., Ala., Ga., and Fla.
So. Dak., and part of Mo.
Wyo., and Mont.
The following table, showing railway mileage; total value of farms; and value, per acre, of farm land, is introduced to show that railway development and agricultural values have usually moved forward simultaneously, if not with equal rapidity. Of the great agricultural States selected, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois showed a decrease in the amount of land devoted to agricultural production, between the years 1880 and 1890.
$958,067,471 $1,261,726,263 $1,195,688,864 $44.12 $51.44 $51.20
368,525,480 574,242,665 647,938,255 36.78 41.59 43.82 587,595,820 726,781,857 869.322,787 32.43 35.59 42.69 881,755,492 1,175,772,293 1,477,759,187 34.07 37.12 48.45 287,281,971 419,865,346 560,475,894 24.52 27.3533.39 99,511,096 238.718,864 414,701,626 15.38 17.81 22.22
699 4,475 2,683 4.993 8,602
705! 1,823 5,300 2,000 3,709 5,887 1,501 3,385 8,806
30,601,027 393,287,906 93,817,667
31,254,449 245,815,335 7.94 8.22 12.90 721,517,214 1,100,682,579 25.48 29.15! 36.10 147,193.723 511,799,810 14.76 14.80' 23.70 489,521,663 786,390,253 18.12 17.56' 25.55 311,738,933 706,664,141 16.58 14.56 23.39
22,738 41,570 75,271 $4,098,821,412 $6,093,333,259 $8,517,238,731 $29.44 $29.46 $33.19
Group VIII. Part of Mo., Kans., part of Col., part of New Mex., Okla.,
Indian Ty., and Arkansas.
and Washington." Including animal products. * Currency values, given in Eleventh Census, reduced to equivalents in gold, at the rate of $1.00 in gold to $1.253 in currency.