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I. WEALTH of Massachusetts. II. THE FIRST CANAL AND THE FIRst RAIL-RoAD. III. EARLY RAIL-Road ProgREss IN THE CoMMonwealth. IV. FINANCIAL Policy. W. RAIL-Road ExTENsion. To Albany. WI. The REvulsion of 1857. VII. Horse RAIL-Roads. WIII. THE Boston AND Worcester RAIL-RoAD. IX. The Boston AND Low ELL RAIL-Road. X. The Boston AND PRov IDENCE RAIL-RoAD. XI. The EASTERN RAIL-RoAD. XII. THE Boston AND MAINE RAIL-Road. XIII. THE FITCH BURG RAIL-RoAD. XIV. The FAll River RAIL-RoAD. XV. The Boston AND NEw-York CENTRAL RAIL-RoAD. XVI. The WEstERN RAIL-RoAD. XVII. THE TRoy AND GREENFIELD RAIL-RoAD. XVIII. Conclusions.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at the close of the Revolution, was deeply in debt. It had made great sacrifices, both of blood and treasure, and its public debt exceeded the value of its soil, and of all its goods, chattels and other convertible property. Seventy-eight years have elapsed since the close of the war, and energy, skill and frugality, although
lanted on a rock, and in an area less than one-fourth that of South Caro
ina, have done their work.
The Commonwealth has extinguished its debt, survived the successive shocks given to its commerce by the French war, the embargoes, the restrictive acts, the loss of the first navy, the second war with England, tariffs and repeals of tariffs, and now exhibits a population of a million and a quarter, actually more than 170 to the square mile, and an amount of wealth assessed by the census of 1860 at $897,000,000.
In this valuation many omissions occur. Little or no account is taken of deposits in savings banks, which now contain fifty millions. At least two hundred dollars in stock and furniture for each family in the State are free from assessment or seizure, and not returned in the valuation. This will amount to fifty millions more.
Nor is anything included in this valuation for the property of the State.
The navy yard, courts, custom-houses and arsenal of the United States.
The schools, colleges, court-houses, vacant land and other property of towns, cities and counties.
WOL. XLV.-NO. II. 8
The churches and other religious edifices, with the addition of these and the omissions of the assessors, who overlook a large part of the personal property, it would be safe to compute the wealth of the State as exceeding twelve hundred millions of dollars, and averaging one thousand dollars for every person in the Commonwealth.
The railway system has contributed much to this wealth. It has given new value to lands and waterfalls. It has cheapened the movement of materials and products, now estimated at four hundred millions annually. It has furnished new inlets for salt, plaster, coal and breadstuffs.
During the decade from 1840 to 1850, when it expanded most, the valuation of the State rose from three hundred to six hundred millions, and during the last decade, when the expansion was less active, at least two hundred and ninety-seven millions more were added to the aggregate, and Massachusetts to-day exhibits an average of property per capita equal to that of Great Britain, enriched by the accumulation of twenty centuries, for her aggregate to-day, for thirty millions of people, is rated by the Edinburgh Review at six thousand millions sterling.
This progress, of course, is not to be ascribed to the railway system alone. Nor is it due to the soil or climate, for they allow but few products to be raised. Nor is it due to artificial stimulants in the shape of tariffs, for Massachusetts has adapted herself to all systems, and asks no tariff to-day except such as the nation requires for revenue. Much is doubtless due to the inborn energy of her people and to her system of schools, by which her labor has been educated and her male operatives been enabled to average at least thirty-five dollars per month, while her female operatives have averaged at least sixteen; but one of the most effective pieces of mechanism she has set in motion by her educated labor has been the railway system.
It has superseded canals, stages and teams, adapted itself to the ice and snow of her winters, successfully crossed her ranges of mountains, and, to some extent, superseded her coast navigation.
II. Massachusetts commenced early in the career of improvement, and built the first canal and the first rail-road in the United States. Soon after the Revolution she began the Middlesex Canal, to unite the Merrimac River with Boston. Capital was then limited, but the work was completed before 1808, and when, long afterwards, New-York commenced her Erie Canal, her commissioners came on to Massachusetts to examine the locks of the Middlesex.
The Quincy Rail-Road followed, and upon this the stone for the Bunker Hill Monument was carried, by horse-power, on cars connected by framework, which are supposed to have first suggested the idea of the long passenger-car. This rail-road preceded the Baltimore and Ohio and Albany and Schenectady Rail-Roads, the first passenger line of this country.
III. No material progress, however, was made in railways until 1834, when sections of the Boston and Worcester, Boston and Lowell and Boston and Providence lines were opened, and the locomotive set in motion.
The public are indebted to the Railway Times, of Boston, for a series of tables which exhibit the progress of our railway system, and furnish a large amount of valuable data, from which the public may draw many inferences.
It appears by these tables, that in 1842 there were completed in Mas
sachusetts 431 miles of rail-road, and in the succeeding fourteen years these increased to 1,325, an average growth of fifteen per cent. per annum. Since 1856, the entire growth in Massachusetts has been but forty-six miles, or less than four per cent. ". annum. With few exceptions, the whole State has been threaded by rail-roads, and sixty miles more now in progress, or contemplated, will carry them through the Deerfield Valley, and to the extremities of Cape Ann and Cape Cod, and leave but little space for future expansion. There has been, however, and probably will continue to be, a perceptible improvement in the condition of the lines of Massachusetts; and, besides the main lines and branches, more than five hundred and forty miles of second tracks and sidings have been laid down in Massachusetts.
In 1842 the cost of the lines in this State amounted to $19,241,000; in 1860 it had risen more than two hundred per cent.—to $60,107,000. In 1842 rail-roads had received a check, and became comparatively stationary; but in 1845 they received a new impulse, and from that period to 1851 the outlay for construction became large, averaging more than five millions yearly, and rising in the last named year to fourteen millions of dollars.
IV. The outlay continued, on a reduced rate, to 1856, when the cost had risen to sixty-three millions; but from 1856 to 1861 a portion of the income had been applied to reduce construction, and a diminution of nearly three millions in cost has thus been effected, while the equipage and stations have been enlarged, and the tracks extended forty-six miles. The average net income of the lines appears to have grown from 5.26 per cent on cost in 1842, until in 1847 it culminated at 7.95 per cent. From this point it gradually declined to 5.68 per cent. in 1855. It is again in the ascendant, having risen from this to 7.10 per cent. in 1860. Upon recurring to the income of the lines, it appears that the gross revenue has risen from $1,971,787 in 1842, to $9,936,391 in 1860; so that, while the length and cost of lines have trebled, the income has increased at least five-fold in the same period. The movement in revenue, although at times irregular, has been constantly progressive. From 1842 to 1845 the passenger revenue increased at an average rate of eight per cent. annually. From 1845 to 1850 it gained 22 per cent. annually; from from 1850 to 1856, 7 per cent. ; from 1856 to 1860, 1 per cent. The income from freight has increased more uniformly. From 1842 to 1845 it averaged an annual gain of 22 per cent. ; from 1845 to 1852, 15 per cent. ; from 1852 to 1860, 10 per cent. And now the income from freight exceeds that from passengers, and defrays seven-eighths of the expenses of maintaining the whole railway service of the State. The number of passengers transported annually has increased to 12,389,598, and the tons transported to 3,912,379. Upon referring to the expense account, we find a very slow and gradual rise from 72 cents per mile run in 1842, to 76 cents in 1851; but for the succeeding six years the rate rapidly advanced from 76 cents to $1 10 per mile in 1857, an increase of at least 44 per cent. From 1857 the cost has rapidly declined to 89 cents per mile in 1860; and there is reason to believe, that if tolls and interest, now included in expenses by some of the rail-roads, were omitted, the rate would stand to-day below 83 cents per mile traversed. These data shed some light upon the history of the past.
W. In 1843 the revival of business under the new tariff, the extension of the Western Rail-Road to Albany, and a reduction on railway charges, gave a new impulse to the system. Many lines were commenced, and much capital took this direction. Large returns of net income in 1847, when the Irish famine gave another impulse to travel and business, drew more capital into railways, and a rapid expansion followed.
The . iven to manufactures by the tariff of 1846, which threw burthens on the raw material, drew still more capital into railways, and for one or two years Massachusetts devoted, at home and abroad, at least twenty to thirty millions annually to rail-roads.
With the discovery of gold in California and the expansion of rail-roads in other States, there came an increased demand for capital and artisans; interest and wages advanced; competition arose; renovation became necessary; expenses increased, and heavy losses and sacrifices followed.
VI. The net income declined, and the value of stocks depreciated as a necessary consequence. This decline, and the shock given by 1857 to credit and to enterprise, again reduced prices and taught economy. The number and speed of trains were reduced; supernumeraries were discharged; materials and wages fell; coal was substituted for wood, with great advantage; debts were funded, and income applied to the reduction of indebtedness. As cost was thus diminished, the natural growth of business, which has attended rail-roads in every country, aided by a diminution of expense, has promoted recovery; stocks have again risen from their depression. They are fast recovering the confidence of the public, and are again considered a safe and remunerative class of investments. Some effects have followed the growth of railways in Massachusetts which deserve the attention of the political economist:
First.—They have superseded three important canals, which were once in active use, the Middlesex, the Hampshire and Hampden, and the Blackstone, with a series of works on the Connecticut and Merrimac. Cheap and rapid transit on lines which crossed both rivers and mountains and bid defiance to winter's ice and snow, diverted the traffic from the slow canal with its wearisome lockage, ice-bound half the year. Canals are now abandoned in Massachusetts.
Second.—They have greatly stimulated the growth of cities and villages, attracting population and manufactures to the line of the iron way. The growth of population in Massachusetts, still more than two per cent. annually, is confined to cities and villages. Some of the inferior farms have been devoted to the production of fuel, in many places worth $3 per cord as it stands, although other farms are more highly cultivated.
Third.—The freight has grown with more rapidity than the passenger traffic. In 1842 it furnished but one-third the revenue; now it supplies more than half, and still continues to gain upon passengers. Much of this freight may be regarded as the creation of the railway. Masses of ice, coal and timber are thus set in motion, and made tributary to commerce and useful to the world.
Fourth-The State is able, by its railway system, to convene its people, to concentrate its whole military force upon a single point and in a single day, upon a few hours' notice. The votes of two hundred thousand citizens are announced the morning after the polls are closed. Immense bodies are collected on festive days, and in the event of any attack upon the State, this power of rapid concentration and action will be most effective for the common defence.
Fifth.-The effects of high and low prices have been effectually tested. The charge for passengers has ranged from 4% to 2 cents per mile, upon various lines and at various periods. Competition, experiment and success have reduced prices to the lower standard, and with the growth of o: and in periods of depression they have again advanced.
Low prices increased numbers, stimulated building andP. the growth of traffic, while they have awakened the jealousy of stockholders engaged in trade, who usually look to the advance of prices as the sure road to wealth.
The result has been, that the public mind is settling down upon the rate of 2 to 3 cents per passenger a mile for the long traffic, and 2 cents per mile for the short traffic, with a charge for season tickets equivalent to 1 or 1} cents a mile for each passage.
The freight is allowed to vary according to value, quantity, distance and gradients, from 14 to 8 cents per mile.
Sirth.-The rail-roads of Massachusetts have gradually reduced their debt until it now constitutes less than one-fourth of the capital of our companies, and their policy seems to be to effect its extinguishment. Out of debt, out of danger, is the lesson taught them by experience. Of late years they have reserved nearly a fourth of their income for reduction of debt and improvements, and now hold nearly six millions in surplus and sinking funds.
Seventh.-Another effect has attended the growth of rail-roads and their extension through the streets of cities, viz., the introduction of an admirable system of horse railways—a minor edition of the rail-road itself.
VII. During the year 1860, fifty-seven miles of horse railways have been in operation in Massachusetts, and by the close of the year two of them were extended from Boston to Lynn, on lines ten to eleven miles in length; and during 1860, 13,695,000 passengers (actually more than on the steam roads) were transported upon the horse railways of Massachusetts, at an average charge of about 2 cents per mile. The cost of these lines is now reported as close upon three millions; their net revenue is 9 per cent., and the cost of conducting them is rated at 20 cents in the cities and 15 cents in the country for each mile run by the two-horse cars, which transport usually not far from an average of fifteen passengers. The cost of transportation is thus apparently 1 to 14 cents per passenger a mile, and where passengers abound, a charge of two cents per mile is found amply remunerative. Although the cost of these lines has been greatly enhanced by experiments and by a process known as watering the stock, viz., by issues at a fictitious cost, it is now generally understood that a horse railway can be made of good quality, at a cost of $5,000 per mile on country roads, and $10,000 to $15,000 per mile in cities, exclusive of the equipage, stables and changes of grade. We have thus glanced at the general system of the State, its progress,