« AnteriorContinuar »
points, diminisholten about five hundred yards in width, presenting above these points a leautiful basin, in which there is near the entrance inside 20 or 21 feet at low water. This river above, where it is perfectly susceptible of defense against a naval force, presents in several respects the most seducing reasons for its selection as a naval dle pot and rendezvous.”
Commodore Foxball A. Parker, United States Navy, who commanded the naval gunboat-flotilla on the Potomac in 1864-65, in a note to the president of the board remarks:
“ There could be no better place for a coal-depot than the Saint Mary's River, and exactly where I had mine during the civil war. Easy of access day and night, plenty of water, and always as smooth as a mill-pond.”
The board cannot express an opinion as to the defensibility of such a point upon the Saint Mary's River as npon further examination might prove to be the most desirable ope for a vaval coaling-depot, while it unqualifiedly recognizes the importance of such a depot accessible at all seasons of the year to vessels of the greatest draught of water, and of easy defense, in communication by shortest routes of transportation with the great bituminous and anthracite coal fields of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, as from such a depot of supply the necessary prerequisite to the maintenance of our steam vessels of war and transports in all contingencies and emergencies would be secured, and from which coal may be shipped to points within the United States and elsewhere throughout the world when desired.
In conclusion, we are of the opinion that at some point upon the Saint Mary's River will be found an eligible position, at which it is (tor the reasons above stated) expedient to locate a naval coaling-station. We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,
R. H. WYMAN, Commodore United States Navy and President of Board.
J. M. B. CLITZ, Commodore United States Navy.
WM. W. W. WOOD,
Engineer in-Chief, United States Nary. Hon. GEO. M. ROBESOX,
Secretary of the Vary.
JANUARY 4, 1875. SIR: I have the honor to request, if not incompatible with the public interest, the following information :
1st. The amount of mail-matter sent annually by the line of steamers from Baltimore to Norfolk, and the amount paid annually to said steamers for such service.
2d. The amount of mail-matter sent from this city annually to Norfolk, and to points in the conuty of Saint Mary's, by the steamer Lady of the Lake, and the amount paid annually for such service.
3d. The amount of mail-unatter sent from this city annually through the counties of Prince George, Charles, and Saint Mary's, as far as Point Lookout, and the amount paid for such service.
4th. Upon completion of the Southern Maryland Railroad, with a line of steamers running from its southern terminus, Point Lookout, we shall be able to place the mails in Norfolk six hours earlier than they are now delivered there, with the great advantage that in the severest weather the mails cannot be detained by ice, which now often happens by the obstruction of the Upper Potomac and Patapsco Rivers in winter. At the same time we are performing this service we can distribute daily mails through the counties of Prince George, Charles, and Saint Mary's, in two and a half to three hours. The same certain transmission, at all times, can be made of the mails coming north from Norfolk and the counties named, our road having its termini at Washington and Point Lookout, and over the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad to Baltimore.
Our road, on completion, being able to furnish these daily, certain, and rapid facilities, I have the honor to request your opinion as to whether the Department would not by authorized to give the Southern Maryland Railroad all the mail-matter now sent by other routes possessing none of these advantages, provided the Department shall be satisfied that the rapidity and regularity of transmission mentioned shall be actually attained. I will be obliged by as early a reply as convenient. I am, respectfully, yours,
SAML. S. SMOOT,
President Southern Maryland Railroad Company, Hon. MARSHALL JEWELL,
Postmaster-General, Washington City.
Washington, D. C., January 8, 1873. Sir: In answer to yours of the 4th instant, addressed to the Postmaster-General you are informed that the amount paid for carrying mails by stearners from Baltimore to Norfolk is $18,000 per annum ; for mail-service by the steamer Lady of the Lake from Washington to Norfolk, $6,000 per annum ; and for service on the line of landroutes from Washington to Point Lookout, $3,113.87 per annum. The amounts of mailmatter sent annually over these lines are not reported to the Department.
On completion of the Southern Maryland Railroad, it is presumed the usual course with respect to the establishnient of mail-service on railroad-routes will be pursued; that is, to obtain from the company certain information as to distances, and the location of post-offices along the line, and order the transportation of mails, with the assent of the company, leaving the rate of compensation to be determined according to the grade of the service, to be shown by returns of the weight of mails, the speed and frequency of the trains, and the character of the accommodations provided for mails and agents. In such case the route would naturally attract all mails to which it would afford quicker transportation than lines previously used. Very respectfully, &c.,
JOHN L. ROUTT,
Second 18sistant Postmaster-General. Col. SAMUEL S. SMOOT,
President Southern Maryland Railroad Company, Washington, 1), C.
Letter of Mr. Vernon to Colonel Smoot.
MONTREAL, CANADA, January 2, 1875. DEAR SIR: Your esteemed favor of the 24th ultimo was duly received, and I proceed' to answer your inquiries as briefly as the nature of the subject will admit.
You ask my “views on the Southern Maryland railroad as an outlet for the grain from the West, and the coal from the Maryland and Pennsylvania mines," &c.
I have examined the location of this road very carefully in regard to the trade and commerce of the country, as well as to its local importance as an absolute necessity for the development of the great natural resources of that portion of Maryland between the District of Columbia and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay is the most attractive outlet on this side of the Atlantic for commerce. It occupies the middle zone, between the products of the South and the great West. Here ships may load at all seasons of the year with mixed cargoes, which are the most remunerative and safest, and, therefore, the most protitable to ship-owners. The direct course from its mouth to Europe avoids the great dangers of the passage by the Banks of Newfoundland, and although the distance is a little longer by sea than from New York, the time will be about the same, because the speed of the ship is not interrupted by fogs or icebergs, and has the advantage of the Gulf Stream. The great question now agitating the public mind throughout the civilized world is “cheap transportation." It is no longer a question of production in North America, but transportation via her great railway system and immense water-channels from the interior to tide-water-whether we shall supply the demands of the United Kingdom with breadstuffs, beef, pork, &c., or the vast granaries of Europe and Asia, through their great natural and artificial water-ways, via the Baltic, the Black, and Mediterranean Seas.
Transportation is the King of Commerce, and steam is His Majesty's prime minister. Steamships, propellers, and locomotives are the executive officers. Steamships are the railways of the sea—the great trunk-lines connecting the coin mercial centers of the world. The nation which possesses or commands all these, and utilizes them through the cheapest channels, must inevitably receive many favors from His August Majesty King Commerce.
The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are destined at no distant day to play an important part in the commerce and local trade of the country. It is over two huudred miles nearer to the great producers of the West than other eligible points on the Atlantic. The facility of ingress and egress at all seasons, and the favorable position when compared with other seaboard localities for imports and exports to and from the West, to Enrope, the West Indies, the Spanish Main, South America, &c., give this.
outlet to the ocean a value which until very lately has been entirely overlooked by King Transportation. The current of trade is very whimsical and sometimes runs in strange channels. It is often governed by prejudice or ignorance, and very often it favors, nay seeks, centralized capital and influence without reference to cost of transportation.
Yet, notwithstanding all these, I cannot see any cause or impediment in the way of the eligible points on the Chesapeake Bay becoming cominercial depots if the invaluable gifts of Providence are fully appreciated by the people interested in the welfare and development of the great natural resources of this section of the country.
The problem of “cheap transportation” by rail may be solved by the railways terminating on the Chesapeake Bay, providing they exercise economy and due diligence in reducing the dead weight of freight-cars to a minimum. The dead weight now moved by railways is in the proportion of 65 to 100 of paying freight.
The new patent freight-car carries 2 tons of freight for every ton of dead weight, and the dead weight moved by the use of this car is as 65 to 100 paying freight. The difference between the present freight-car and the patent freight-car is nearly 50 per ceut.
The ordinary load for a locomotive is 400 tons—200 tons dead weight and 200 tons paying freight. By using the “cheap-transportation car," a locomotive will carry 275 tons of paying freight and 135 tons of dead weight.
The freight on wheat from the West can be reduced 10 cents per bushel by the use of this car, and railways make 20 per cent. more than now.
The value of the commerce of the Ohio River is estimated at $716,000,000, or nearly 60 per cent. of the whole import and export of the country. The freight carried by rail to Cincinnati in 1872 was, local, 2,725,574 tons; through freight, 4,490,788 tons ; the value of her manufactures in 1872, $143,486,675; total imports and exports, $518,293,648. The imports and exports of Louisville in 1870 amounted to $124,496,730. Here is a volume of trade represented by two cities on the Ohio amounting to $942,790,378, which is more than 80 per cent. of the foreign trade of the United States, and the outlets on the Chesapeake for these cities are from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty miles nearer than any other channel. Add to this the trade of Chicago, Saint Louis, Indianapolis, &c., and this immense tide of trade and commerce will represent more than double the foreign commerce of the United States.
The coal-fields of Maryland and Pennsylvania and West Virginia are nearer tidewater at Baltimore, Saint Mary's River, and Richmond, than elsewhere. By the use of the patent coal-car, coal may be transported at one-half the price now charged ; con-. sequently the Chesapeake Bay may be made tbe cheapest ontlet for this invaluable commodity. Next to cheap food, cheap fuel is the greatest blessing that can be given to any people of high latitudes. It stimulates manufactures and enterprise. It encourages commerce, and ultinately enriches the entire community.
The total production of coal in the United States in 1870 was, bituminous, 17,199,115 tons; anthracite, 15,664,215 tons; total, 32,863,690 tons. In 1873 it amounted to 45,413,340 tong. The annual increase may be set down at 4,500,000 tons. The consumption of coal in 1885 may be estimated at 85,000,000 tons. The production of anthracite coal has been calculated by eminent men not to exceed annually 28,000,000 tons. Therefore the bituminous coal must ultimately make up the increased demands of the country, and the Chesapeake Bay is nearer to these coal-fields than any other point.
The exports of petroleum from the United States in 1873 were 187,052,710 gallons, equal to 750,000 tons, valued at $42,050,756. The production and consumption of this article is annually increasing. By using the “patent oil-car” the cost of transportation may be reduced at least one-third, and Saint Mary's may become a large entrepôt for local and foreign export.
The receipts of breadstutt's at New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Portland in 1872 were 155,679,750 bushels. Had all this been shipped to England it would have been about 40,000,000 bushels short of her demands. The United States and Canada furnish about one-third of the breadstuffs imported into the United Kingdom.
Washington must ere long take her place among the commercial cities of the world. Her uprivaled facilities for manufactures cannot remain dormant much longer. She minst, then, throw off her lethargy, utilize her water-power, and take her place among the progressive cities of the continent.
The construction of the Southern Maryland Railroad should be the first made, because without an independent'outlet to the ocean at all seasons of the year she could not assume the character and importance of a seaboard city.
With the Southern Maryland Railroad under the control and management of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, that company would have the key to the ocean-on one side Baltimore, and on the other Saint Mary's River-one hundred miles nearer than the present terminus. Or if your road were under the control and management of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which is as short a line to the great West as. the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, it could deliver grain from the West (at Saint Mary's River) one hundred miles pearer the ocean than at Baltiniore.
Taking all things in connection with this road into consideration, I believe the Saint Mary's would become the great coaling-depot of the United States Navy. The security of navigation to this point, and the cheapness of coal, would no donbt induce foreigu men-of-war to coal there. Merchant-steamers will also be attracted to this trade by the facilities offered for cheap fuel and very low barbor-dues, and a great depth of water for the largest slips.
If the Saint Mary's is made a great coal-depot, supplied at the cheapest rates by railroad and water, po vessel of war could afford to navigate the Potowac to Washington for coal or munitions of war. Coal can be delivered on board a vessel at the Saint Mary's for about fifty cents on the price at Washington, and much cheaper than in New York. No war-vessel of any magnitude can navigate the Potomac to and from Washington for less than $1,000. A war-vessel could take in a supply of coal and be outside the capes before she could reach Washington.
In time of war this road would be invaluable in consequence of the facilities of ingress and egress to the capital and all other points. It would pay the General Gov. ernment to construct it as a military necessity. The saving on coal alone would pay more than the interest on the cost.
As a commercial and financial enterprise I believe it will be a great success. It deserves the most energetic support of the people of Washington, as well as the aid of the General Government.
I have extended my letter beyond reasonable limits, but the subject is one of such paramount importance that I have not only been unable to compress it into a smaller space, but I have been compelled to omit many points of detail. I am, very respectfully, yours,
J. M. VERNON. Col, SAMUEL S. SMOOT,
President Southern Maryland Railroad Company, Washington, D. C.
BALTIMORE, January 14, 1875. DEAR SIR: I have yours of the 10th instant, asking my opinion of your road. You know that I have been connected with railroads for the past fourteen years, and have, therefore, given the subject, in all its bearings, my earnest and undivided attention ; and whatever value may attach to my opinion, I cheerfully give it, not only out of courtesy to you, but because I have long regarded your road as a most important link in the great system of railroads penetrating our country in every direction.
It is but comparatively a short time ago when produce was transported from the interior to tide-water by the laborious and tedious process of caravans of wagons, and in locating cities the effort was to select sites as far in the interior on tide-water as possible, with a view of saving time, and diminishing the expense of that mode of landtransportation.
Since the introduction of railroads the desideratum has been to transport produce to the nearest and most convenient point to the ocean, and that point which possesses the greatest advantages for the most rapid and cheapest transportation, and transsbipment for commerce, is sure to become the entrepôt of a great trade.
That Point Lookout and the Saint Mary's River possess the advantages referred to in an eminent degree I have no doubt.
Your road has its termini at Washington, the capital of the United States, and Point Lookout, at the confluence of the Potomac River, with the Chesapeake Bay, a point about 80 miles distant from the ocean, the great bighway of commerce-the length of your line being 76 miles-and is a connectiny-link with three great trunk-lines, namely, the Baltimore and Ohio, the Pennsylvania Central, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroads, with deep, safe, and commodious harbors at its sontbern terminus, sufficient to accommodate the navies of the world, and situated milway north and south on the Atlantic Coast, readily accessible to traffic from any quarter of the globe, and never obstructed by ice even in the severest weather.
Such are the advantages of your road, not exceeded, in my judgment, by any other in the country, and it will, in my opinion, command an unlimited traffic for the following Teasous:
It is the shortest route to the ocean, and conseqnently the quickest and cheapest, considerations which always determine channels of trade.
All the agitations and movements throughout the country, especially in the West, indicate a growing demand for cheap transportation between the Valley of the Mississippi and the ocean. It seems to me that this important question will be, in a large de
gree, solved by your road, as it will contribute to reduce the tariff on through freight by offering a shorter and more expeditious route.
By way of comparison, and to make this fact apparent, I call yonr attention to the relative distance of Point Lookont, Baltimore, and Washington to the ocean. Baltimore is 200 miles, Washington 230 miles, and Point Lookont 80 miles. It takes steamers from fourteen to sixteen hours to make the trip from Baltimore and Washiugton to Norfolk. The same trip can be made in pine hours from either city via Southern Maryland Railroad, making a saving of six hours by steamers from Point Lookout in connection with your road. This is a most significant illustration of the value of your road in point of time and distance. But when you consider that the harbors of Baltimore and Washington are always liable to be obstructed by ice in the winter, and that Point Lookont is always open, even in the severest seasons, the superiority of your road as the shortest and most convenient route over all others is inade inanifest.
You will observe from the above figures that Baltimore is, say, 115 miles farther from the ocean than Point Lookout, and Washington is about 130 miles farther, which involves an inland navigation of 230 miles in one case and 260 in the other. You can readily see tbat the vessel which loads at Point Lookout can make her voyage to New York wbile another vessel is making her voyage from Point Lookout and back to that point. She is then only at the starting-point of the first vessel, which by that time would be far on her voyage back from New York. This difference of ten or twelve days demurrage means cbeap freights.
This brings me to consider the great coal-trade, as an illustration of the facts I have mentioned. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad penetrates the vast Cumberland coal. fields, which furnishes over the Metropolitan Branch, in connection with your road, almost a “bee-line” to Point Lookout. This coal is universally conceded to be the best steam-generator now known, and is eagerly songht after by sea-going and river steamers. The increase in this trade has been enormous. A few years ago the maximum delivery by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was about 46,000 (last year it reached nearly 2,000,000) tons, and by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal nearly 1,000,000. A large proportion of that brought down by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad finds its way to New York by barges through the Delaware and Raritan Cavals, which in winter are necessarily closed by ice, the water being still and fresh. Besides these difficulties, it has to bear two transshipments-one at Locust Point from the cars to the barges, and another at New York from the barges to the place of deposit. That brought down by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is shipped on board of vessels at Georgetown and Alexandria, with the disadvantage of 130 miles tedious river-navigation. Besides the Cumberland coal brought from the mines by the routes above named, 350,000 tons of coal are annually delivered in Baltimore over the Northern Central road.
Now, in view of the expense and delay attending the present modes of delivery in New York and elsewhere, it is reasonable to conclude that at least one-half of all this coal will find its way over your road to Point Lookout to supply the demands of commerce-that by the Northern Central over the Baltimore and Potomac road, which, with yonr road, forms a direct line to Point Lookout. . I dwell on this item of coal, because I plainly foresee that it will prove in the future
a source of great profit to your road. One-half of the quantities referred to at $1 per ton will yield to your road a revenue of $1,500,000 annually. The facilities which your depots at Saint Mary's River afford must necessarily vastly increase the demand ; but you cannot even conjecture what tbat increase will be. Look at the wonderful Tevolution since 1836, when the first steamer crossed the Atlantic and solved the great problem of ocean steam-navigation. Now there are 15 lines of steamers, numbering 176, plying on the ocean-ferry" alone; add to these the fleet of coasting-steamers and all the United States naval vessels, and you will in part realize what an immense fleet is now supplied by the mines now penetrated by existing trunk-lines, to which your line furnishes incomparably the most convenient, shortest, and most expeditions means of distributing all over the world.
No wonder, in view of these plain facts, that Congress at its last session passed a resolution requiring the Secretary of the Navy to appoint a board officers for the purpose of examining the waters of Saint Mary's River with a view of establishing there a great naval coal-depot.
Now, it is true that it is difficult to divert trade from its accustomed channels ; yet it is certain that it will, in spite of all obstacles, seek that channel which offers manifest advantages in time, money, and convenience, and all these your road possesses in an eminent degree over all other routes.
I have dwelt so long on the importance of your road in reference to the transportation of coal, that I cannot review in detail its advantages for the distribution of the cereals from the great West, nor is it necessary I should ; for the same reasoning applies equally to that trade, and will as surely bring the cereals to your elevators at Saint Mary's River,
But I may be excused in referring particularly to a trade of great magnitude, which,