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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/451

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445
A YEAR OF WEATHER AND TRADE.

Mississippi and Missouri valleys, including the middle Rocky Mountain slope and the Ohio Valley. There were also very heavy rains in eastern sections about the middle of the month. The exceptionally cold weather immediately stimulated retail trade in winter goods in many places. Eggs, poultry and potatoes advanced. In the New York stock market, the cold gave strength to the anthracite group of railroads, because it was certain that coal consumption would increase at once, but floods in the mining regions of Pennsylvania curtailed the coal supply, interfered with transportation, and cut down railroad earnings. Building was interfered with by the cold, and the receipts of wheat fell off because of the interruption of railroad traffic. As regards railroad earnings for 1901 as a whole, the southwestern roads were unfavorably affected by the poor corn crop, and the southern roads by the late cotton crop.

January was mild and generally dry, especially during the first two decades, but closed with ample snow covering over the winter-wheat states. Retail distribution of heavy clothing, boots and shoes, and rubber goods, was checked by the mild weather, and the loss of snow retarded lumber operations. The high temperature, however, stimulated the demand for spring goods at wholesale, and building, and the demand for building materials, were active. The snows of the end of the month were favorable for winter-wheat, and furnished water for cattle, and therefore improved the tone of the stock market, especially in the case of northwestern securities. But these same snows interfered with transportation interests and with trade, except that in winter clothing and rubber footwear. The future, as one trade journal had it, profited at the expense of the present.

During the first two weeks of February, snow obstructed traffic by railroads, cutting down receipts of live stock, corn, wheat and coal, and causing the banking of mills and furnaces because of lack of coal. Country roads were blocked, and country merchants were kept away from town. This increased orders by mail. Farmers could not reach their banks, and this interfered with the free circulation of money. During the second week of February, it was reported that as a result of the long drought in the southwest, water was scarce, and railroads had to haul it a hundred miles in places. At St. Louis, 'local retail trade was decreased by reason of the dangers of ice-covered sidewalks and streets.' Loaded car movement at St. Louis and Indianapolis was below that for preceding years, snow blockades throughout the west and north having compelled the railroads to reduce the number of cars per train. There resulted a notable decrease in Atlantic exports of flour, and a crowding of side-tracks at division points with loaded cars waiting to be moved.