Atlantic Monthly

Not Available
Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No.
13, November, 1858, The

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II., November,
1858., No. XIII., by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone
anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You
may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project
Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II., November, 1858., No. XIII.
Author: Various
Release Date: January 30, 2004 [EBook #10867] [Date last updated:
July 12, 2005]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Cornell University



Though our country can boast of no Watt, Brindley, Smeaton, Rennie,
Telford, Brunel, Stephenson, or Fairbairn, and lacks such
experimenters as Tredgold, Barlow, Hodgkinson, and Clark, yet we
have our Evans and Fulton, our Whistler, Latrobe, Roebling, Haupt,
Ellet, Adams, and Morris,--engineers who yield to none in professional
skill, and whose work will bear comparison with the best of that of
Great Britain or the Continent; and if America does not show a Thames
Tunnel, a Conway or Menai Tubular Bridge, or a monster steamer, yet
she has a railroad-bridge of eight hundred feet clear span, hung two
hundred and fifty feet above one of the wildest rivers in the
world,--locomotive engines climbing the Alleghanies at an ascent of
five hundred feet per mile,--and twenty-five thousand miles of railroad,
employing upwards of five thousand locomotives and eighty thousand
cars, costing over a thousand millions of dollars, and transporting
annually one hundred and thirty millions of passengers and thirty
million tons of freight,--and all this in a manner peculiarly adapted to
our country, both financially and mechanically.
In England the amount of money bears a high proportion to the amount
of territory; in America the reverse is the case; and the engineers of the
two countries quickly recognized the fact: for we find our railroads
costing from thirty thousand to forty thousand dollars per mile,--while
in England, to surmount much easier natural obstacles, the cost varies
from seventy-five to one hundred thousand dollars per mile.
The cost of railroad transport will probably never be so low as carriage
by water,--that is, natural water-communication; because the river or
ocean is given to man complete and ready for use, needing no repairs,
and with no interest to pay upon construction capital. Indeed, it is just
beginning to be seen all over the country that the public have both
expected and received too much accommodation from the companies.
Men are perfectly willing to pay five dollars for riding a hundred miles

in a stage-coach; but give them a nicely warmed, ventilated, cushioned,
and furnished car, and carry them four or five times faster, with double
the comfort, and they expect to pay only half-price,--as a friend of the
writer once remarked, "Why, of course we ought not to pay so much
when we a'n't half so long going,"--as if, when they paid their fare, they
not only bargained for transport from one place to another, but for the
luxury of sitting in a crowded coach a certain number of hours. It
would be hard to show a satisfactory basis for such an establishment of
tolls. We need not wonder at the unprofitableness of many of our roads
when we consider that the relative cost of transport is,--
By Stage, one cent, By Railroad, two and seven-twelfths;
and the relative charge,--
By Stage, five cents, By Railroad, three cents;
and the comparative profit, as five less one to three less two and
seven-twelfths, or as four to _five-twelfths_, or as _nine and six-tenths
to one_.
America has, it is true, a grander system of natural
water-communication than any other land except Brazil; but, for all that,
there is really but a small part of the area, either of the Alleghany coal
and iron fields, or of the granaries of the Mississippi valley, reached
even by our matchless rivers. A certain strip or band of country,
bordering the water-courses, is served by them both as regards export
and import; just as much is served wherever we build a railroad. In fact,
whenever we lay a road across a State, whether it connects the West
directly with the East, or only with some central commercial point in
the West, just so often do we open to market a band of country as long
as the road, and thirty, forty, or fifty miles wide,--the width depending
very much upon the cost of transport over such road; and as the charge
is much less upon a railroad than upon a common road, the distance
from the
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 108
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.