Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Railway Charges in 1872

From the Goodwood Library:  A chapter in the 1935 Annual of Tallahassee Historical Society, "Investigation of St. Marks Harbor with Brief Commercial History of that Town and Newport" contains a section about the railway company's charges in 1872:
It will be seen by the following table that the railroad company's charges for carrying cotton, pork, corn, flour, etc., to Saint Mark's are very high as compared with other towns: 
For carrying pork, corn, flour, etc.
  • From Tallahassee to Saint Mark's, 21 miles, 25 cents per 100 pounds
  • From Tallahassee to Live Oak, 61 miles, 33 cents per 100 pounds
  • From Tallahassee to Jacksonville, 165 miles, 45 cents per 100 miles
For carrying cotton.
  • From Tallahassee to Saint Mark's, 21 miles, 40 cents per 100 pounds
  • From Tallahassee to Jacksonville, 165 miles, 85 cents per 100 pounds
... There is not a port on the east having the advantage of a railway communication nearer than Cedar Keys, a distance of ninety miles; on the west none nearer than Pensacola, a distance of two hundred and eighty miles.  Cotton can be carried from here to the market in New York cheaper than by the present route via Savannah.  The cost of the above route is as follows, viz:  five cents, and from Jacksonville to Savannah, thirty-two cents; from Savannah to New York by sail, fifty cents--making a total coast of $1.65 per hundred pounds.
By the Saint Mark's route, it could be carried from Tallahassee to Saint Mark's for twenty cents, from St. Mark's to New York for seventy-five cents.  By the Savannah route it only takes one week to New York; by the Saint Mark's route one month.  Therefore, I allow three weeks' interest on the value of the cotton, at ten per cent, would equal ten cents per one hundred pounds; thus bringing the cost Saint Mark's route $1.05, against $1.65, the cost of the Savannah route--, leaving a balance in favor of Saint Mark's export but half the forty thousand bales of cotton it exported up to 1861, allowing five hundred pounds to the bale, there would be saved to the cotton-growers of the district an annual sum of $60,000.  
On the other hand, Saint Mark's has no accommodation at present for the transaction of business; no wharf of importance, the present one being only about sixty by forty feet; no warehouses or cotton-presses of any description.   The site of the village is upon low, flat marshy land, covered over with weeds and stagnant water, and the climate extremely unhealthy, it is nearly impossible for a new resident to escape having severe attacks of chills and fever.  The coast is also subject to severe gales in the fall months, which sometimes do great damage.  I see no prospect of Saint Mark's rising in importance for many years to come.
Arvah Hopkins
Arvah Hopkins would have pondered these financial problems as he was trying to keep the Goodwood plantation intact and out of the bank's hands.  In 1872, he found himself having to budget for new costs for labor and machinery in addition to increased costs for shipping from Tallahassee.  He would have been very interested in what ideas this study had to offer.

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