Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/599

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RAILWAY CONSOLIDATION.

England. In commenting upon the favorable result of railway consolidation in Great Britain, the chief of the Bureau of Statistics, in his report upon the "Internal Commerce of the United States for 1881" (page 35), says: "A similar result has followed railroad consolidations in the United States. It has heretofore been shown that the average of all the rates charged on fifteen leading railroads of the country, including those of the great East and West trunk-lines, and the principal railroads west of the Alleghany Mountains, engaged in traffic between the Western and Northwestern States and the Atlantic sea-board, has decreased 39ยท45 per cent since 1870, this reduction in railroad freight charges having been more than three times as great as the average reduction during the same period in the prices of twenty-two of the leading articles of commerce."

This refers to those great trunk-lines against which there is the most frequent charge of monopoly, and upon which, singularly enough, there are the lowest average rates charged by any railroad on the earth.

Yet the objection to using these lines as an illustration of low rates voluntarily made by the companies with the object of increasing their traffic may be made with some appearance of fairness, as they are largely employed in moving the enormous products of the Western States to the sea-board, and the rates upon this portion of their traffic are controlled by the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal, and in part also, perhaps, by competition with one another. We may find an illustration, to which no objection of this kind can be raised, in the great California corporation.

The Central Pacific Railroad Company owns, or controls, with a few exceptions, all the railroads in California, and the western termini of three transcontinental lines. In an address to the people, by the National Anti-Monopoly League (page 15), the condition of railroad competition is stated here as follows: "Monopoly is growing in all the States. It has completely subjugated only one. In California it has ripened its fruit. There, Monopoly is king. There, a few men control steam-transportation. They have annihilated competition." This language has certainly the merit of being vigorous, and is well calculated to influence its hearers by its sound. "Subjugated," "king," and "monopoly," are words which in themselves excite a feeling of rebellion in the breast of a freeman; but, like many other sounding things, they are empty. This great system of roads, having crossed the trackless wastes and pierced the mountain-ranges, has brought a thriving population to thousands of square miles of land which theretofore were uninhabitable and without benefit to humanity. Since the first mile of track was operated by the owners of this company, the surplus earnings have been reinvested in extending its lines, and so increasing its benefits to the community.

Now let us see the effect of this absence of competition by other roads. Let us see if, as the consolidations and extensions have pro-