1902 Encyclopedia > Railway, Railways (Railroad) > Railways - United States - Traffic

Railway, Railways
(Part 49)


Railways - United States - Traffic.

In the United States coal for fuel and timber for building and other purposes are carried by railway 1500 miles or more from the place of production. Cattle are carried 2000 miles and more, and wheat and other grains worth but half as much per ton, in immense quantities, 1500 to 1800 miles. This is possible only by rates which in most countries would be thought ruinously low. But in recently settled parts of the United States the population are often dependent upon the railway for almost everything they consume; and almost everything they produce, except their bread and meat, has to be carried by the same means. Thus the traffic per inhabitant is very much larger than in most old countries. Hence too manufactured goods can often be carried 1000 or 1500 miles at a cost very little more than that at the place of manufacture or importation. In one year the five eastern trunk lines received at their western termini (about 450 miles from New York) for transportation eastwards 8,200,000 tons of goods, equal to more than 26,000 tons daily. This has greatly promoted the formation of large railway systems and the construction of branches and extensions by railway companies near unsettled districts. A company with a line 500 miles long is induced to make extensions not only by the profit to be made on the new line, which in a new country may be almost nothing for several years, but also by the profit made by carrying the traffic of the new line over the 500 miles of old railway. Comparing the traffic per inhabitant in the United States, Germany, and Austria-Hungary in 1883, we get (Table XXXIV.):—

Thus each American travels three-fifths more and has 3 1/2 times as much goods transportation done for him as the average German.

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