United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

Preliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report online

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shifting ascendancy of rivers and ports marks still wider changes in
the agricultural and industrial life of the Middle West and Southwest.
Among other things it signalizes on the one hand a railroad expansion
in a territory to which improved means of communication have
hitherto been undeveloped, and on the other the adaptation in one of
the most advanced industrial districts in the world of a very old form
of transportation to the requirements of a new age. A packet boat

fpn the Mississippi and a steel barge on the Ohio reflect two entirely
different stages of American economic progress.



As contrasted with the single important packet line on the upper
Mississippi — the Diamond Jo Line — there are to-day about a dozen
more or less important packet lines on the lower section, not to
mention individual steamers and some gasoline boats. Some of the
packet lines use the Mississippi only for the purpose of reaching
points on tributary streams, but none of them send their vessels from
St. Louis or the Ohio River through to New Orleans. Here and
there, moreover, may be found evidences of a division of territory
between the regular packet lines, although, so far, there is no positive
proof of any such understanding.

Wl^ile there are no longer any through lines of packets between St.
Louis and New Orleans, there is still a considerable interchange of
merchandise between towns like St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg,
Natchez, and lower river ports, as well as points on the Arkansas and
other streams, which furnish cotton, cotton seed, and other planta-
tion products in return for plantation supplies. Packet lines, more-
over, running between St. Louis and various points on the Ohio,
Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers — lines, for example, like the Lee
Line (Ohio River division) and the St. Louis and Tennessee River
Packet Line — appear to prosper.

The following is a list of the more important packet lines on the
lower Mississippi, together with some account of their organization
and operation:

1 . Lee Line steamers : Unincorporated ; fleet composed of 8 steam-
boats, operated over the following divisions: Cincinnati and Memphis
division, St. Louis and Memphis div ision, Cairo and Memphis division,

/. Memphis *aricl Ashport (Tenn.) division, Memphis and Friars Point
(Miss.) division. The vessels carry miscellaneous freight.

2. St. Louis and Tennessee River Packet Company: Operating from
" St. L ouis via the Ohio River to points on the Tennessee River.

S^"Eagle~p■acket Company: Incorporated under the laws of Mis-

3 souri, 1903; capital stock, $150,000; operates 4 steamers between St.

L ouis and Cape Girardeau and Commerce, Mo. , in addition to the

u"priver lines noted above. Merchandise outbound; live stock and

farm products inbound.

4. Arkansas River Packet Company: Incorporated under the laws
of Tennessee; capital stock, S150,000; fleet of 4 steamers operating
between Memphis and Vicksburg and Little Rock. From Memphis
the boats carry general merchandise and plantation supplies, with
return cargoes of cotton and cotton seed. This line has recently com-
pleted arrangements with the Monongahela River Consolidated Coal
and Coke Company whereby cotton brought to Memphis by the packet
line will hereafter be taken to New Orleans in model barges of the latter
company and delivered alongside ocean-going steamships bound for
Liverpool, Havre, etc., at 20 cents per hundred, including an allow-
ance for insurance. The rail rate for the same haul is 22 cents. The
Arkansas River Packet Company uses the Southern Freight Classifi-
cation on the east side of the Mississippi, and the Western Classifica-
tion on the opposite side, to rail competitive points.

This company states that the line has given up prorating with
railroads for the reason that ' ' the railroads, after taking shipments of


cotton for the East and for the export trade, would cause delivery
to be delayed after they had loaded the cars from the boat Imes and
would hurry their own shipments. Boat line had to pay same rate
as otlier local shippers."

The Arkansas River Packet Company owns one-half the stock of
the Consolidated Wharf Boat Company at Memphis, representing
$10,000 (the other half being owned by the Memphis and Arkansas
City Packet Company) ; and it also owns a warehouse at Pine Bluff
and is building another at Little Rock.

5. Memphis and Arkansas City Packet Company: Incorporated
1889 under the laws of Arkansas; capital stock, $100,000; operates 1
steamboat between Memphis and Arkansas City, carrying general
merchandise, cotton, and cotton seed.

The only other boat line running between the same terminals is the
Memphis and Vicksburg Packet Line; railroad competitors, Illinois
Central (Yazoo and Mississippi Valley) and Missouri Pacific.

6. Vicksburg and Greenville Packet Company: Incorporated 1886
under the laws of Mississippi; capital stock, $65,000. Owns 1 steamer
in the Vicksburg and Greenville trade, chartered to the Arkansas River
Packet Company, which has an option on same.

7. Natchez and Bayou Sara Packet Company: Partnership, operat-
ing a small packet boat between points indicated, stopping at inter-
mediate plantation landings. Boat carries miscellaneous freight,
plantation supplies, cotton, and cotton seed. Rates between Loui-
siana points are required to be filed and approved by the Louisiana
State railroad commission.

This boat runs in competition with New Orleans and Vicksburg
boats and Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad; also with tramp
steamers, the effect of which is to make shippers dissatisfied in dull

8. JVIississippi Packet Company: Incorporated 1892 under the laws
of Mississippi; capital stock, $50,000. Owns 3 stern-wheel steam-
boats, one of which is operated by the Natchez Transportation Com-
pany, New Orleans. Vessels ply between New Orleans and False
River, La., carrying general merchandise, sugar, molasses, cotton, and
cotton seed. All transportation companies prorate on freights for-
warded by this company's boats. Two boats only operate three or
four months in the year.

9. Lyon Packet Company: Partnership; operates 2 passenger and
freight steamboats between Greenville, Miss., and Luna and Sunny
Side, Ark., carrying cotton and plantation supplies,

10. Natchez Transportation Company: Incorporated in Mississippi
in 1902. Capital stock, $40,000. Owns 1 steamer but operated
in 1905 another steamer, owned by the Mississippi Packet Company.
Operates from New Orleans to Harwood, Ark., and has a regular
tariff authorized by the Louisiana State railroad commission.

11. Ouachita Transportation Company: Organized under the laws
of Illinois in 1898. Capital stock, $35^000. Owns and operates 1
steamer from New Orleans to the Bends above Vicksburg. The
steamer of the Natchez Transportation Company runs in the same
trade, and in the slack months the boats of the two companies run
in alternate months; in the cotton season both boats are operated
on different days. Traffic consists of merchandise and plantation


supplies north; and cotton, cotton seed, rice, sugar and molasses

Among other lines may be mentioned: The Planters' Packet Com-
pany, operating between Memphis and O. K., Miss.; and from New
Orleans the Baton Rouge and Atchafalaya Packet Company to Mel-
ville, La., and the Parker Line to Monroe, La., on the Ouacliita River.


At St. Louis there is an organization known as the St. Louis
Steamboat Managers' Association, Jolm E. Massengale, chairman.
It is an informal organization for mutual protection, one of the results
acliieved being the abolition of wharfage charges against steam-
boats at St. Louis. John E. Massengale, chairman, is traffic man-
ager of the St. Louis and Tennessee River Packet Company (affiliated
with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad) ; J. W. Fristoe, another
member of the executive committee, was formerly president of the
St. Louis-Chester-Cape Girardeau Line.; Henry hejhe, sr., also of the
executive committee, is president of the Eagle Packet Company,
and W. K. Kavanaugh, of the executive committee, is president of
the Wiggins Ferry Company, the stock of which is controlled by
an association of railroads centering in St. Louis.

From a statement made to a representative of the Bureau of Cor-
porations by an official of one of the boat lines in this association,
it seems clear that there is an understanding among the members
that none of them shall aid or afford wharf facilities to any new
boat line that may enter into competition with any other member.
The effectiveness of this agreement to shut out new lines will be
appreciated when it is understood that the members control,
directly or indirectly, the greater part of the river front most avail-
able for landing purposes at St. Louis.

There is also a Steamboats Traffic Association at New Orleans
which makes rates for the boat lines on intrastate commerce, which
are filed with the State railroad commission for approval.


Of bulk freight on the lower Mississippi, coal from the Ohio River
constitutes the main factor. There is some movement of lumber
up river and on the tributaries. Grain is now of very small impor-


No grain is shipped out of St. Louis by river to any considerable
extent, the export business by this route being entirely dead. For
many years the St. Louis and Mississippi Valley Transportation
Company, which was probably controlled by Gould interests, success-
fully engaged in the grain trade between St. Louis and New Orleans,
but has been out of business for several years. The craft of this
company were of w^ood, many of them over 25 years old, not built
according to modern ideas, and it cost at least 10 per cent per annum
to keep them in condition, besides the high insurance rate on the
cargo. As a consequence the craft of the line were sold, most of the
towboats and barges being bought bj^ the Monougahela River Con-


solidated Coal and Coke Company. The St. Louis Steel Barge Com-
pany was organized for this same grain trade; but on account of no
grain business offering, this company has gone into the business of
transporting oil in bulk.

Formerly large quantities of wheat, corn, and oats were sent by
river from St. Louis to New Orleans for export, but the building of
railroads through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Indian Territory
to the Gulf, together with the lack of attention given to river im-
provement, have operated against St. Louis as a point of sliipment for
jriver grain. The last of the river shipments taken by the St. Louis Steel
ABarge Company was in 1902 ;' and the St. Louis and Mississippi Valley
I Transportation Company went out of business shortly afterwards.
/ During the past six or seven years several elevators, formerly used
) for storing export grain at St. Louis, have been dismantled or de-
^ stroyed.

When the Anchor Line of steamers was running many shipments
of grain were made from Cairo, being drawn from all over Illinois.
Shipments of oats were particularly large. With the building of
railroad connections from Cairo into southern territory, the boat
lines lost the business, the railroads making rates low enough to get
the trade. At one time the rate from the point of shipment in Illinois
to Mississippi River competitive points, to and including New Orleans,
was 20 cents per 100 pound. The carrier north of the Oliio took 12
cents of the rate, leaving 8 cents to the carrier south of the Oliio.
Tliis 8-cent rate was ruinous to the boat line, since out of this had to
be taken the cost of rehandling and insurance. The railroads also
allowed the bulk grain to be stopped in transit and sacked, at the
same rate of freight. Subsequently the railroads put in switches on
the larger plantations for delivery of the railroad freight. Finally
most of the grain grew on the railroad line back from the river, thus
putting the boat lines at a further disadvantage. Another difference
in the matter of shipping is the cost of loading and unloading. On
rail shipments the shipper stands this expense, wliile on river ship-
ments the loading and unloading costs are borne by the boat line. As
a result of these conditions Cairo is no longer a point for grain ship-
ments by river.


Cairo is an important point for the receipt of logs and lumber
from the lower Mississippi and for railroad ties from the Cumberland,
Tennessee, Mississippi and other streams. Companies engaged in
this trade are:

Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company, and its
affiliated concern, the Huntington and St. Louis Towboat Company,
of Cairo.

Barrett Line, Oscar Barrett owner, Cincinnati, operating 4 steamers
and 21 barges,

Fred Bennett, Cairo, 111., 1 steamer and fleet of barges doing a job
business about Cairo.

Cairo, Memphis & Southern R. R. and Transportation Company,
the river department of the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company,
Chicago, 111. This company operates 1 steamer and 10 barges be-
tween Cairo and Arkansas City, Ark., handling logs exclusively for
the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.


The logs and lumber brought in by these companies are reshipped
at Cairo over the Big Four and Illinois Central to Chicago and points
north and east. There has been much complaint among shippers
regarding the inability of the railroads at Cairo to furnish cars in
sufficient numbers.

Considerable pulp wood is brought to Cairo by the steamer and nine
barges operated by the Interstate Transportation Company, V. C.
Wilson, manager, Hickman, Ky., for paper mills at Dayton, Ohio.
This pulp wood is brought to Cairo after being picked up at points
on the Mississippi.

A3^er-Lord Tie Company, Chicago, 111., owTiin^ the Ayer-Lord Barge
Company, is said to be the largest concern of its kind in the world.
They operate a fleet of 6 or 7 steamers and a number of barges on the
Tennessee, Cumberland, and Mississippi rivers, but do not ship from

The most important log and lumber towing concern at Memphis is
the Patton-Tully Transportation Company, which w^as formed in 1906
by a consolidation of the Memphis Towdng, Barge and Derrick Com-
pany and the Bluff City Towing Company. The greater part of the
stock of the Patton-Tully Transportation Company is o^v^led by the
Anderson-Tully Lumber Company of Memphis; but the transporta-
tion company tows for all the mills of Memphis, among which are the
Bennett Hardwood Lumber Company, Moore & McFarrin, and the
James Thompson Lumber Company. The Wolf River Towing Com-
pany, of Memphis, is another concern engaged in the log and lumber
towing business at Memphis.

Many lumber mills on the tributaries of the lower Mississippi oper-
ate towboats, handling rafts of logs and barges of lumber.


The principal coal operator on the lower Mississippi is the Monon-
gahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company. As far as can
be learned, all the coal this concern takes to St. Louis by river is
shipped to the Laclede Gaslight Company. Towing for the Monon-
gahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company at St. Louis
is done by the Consolidated Coal Company, which is a Gould prop-
erty. There is no other coal brought to St. Louis by river. Coal
for domestic and steam purposes is taken there from the southern
Illinois fields by railroad.

River coal coming to Memphis is not only used locally but is also
shipped over the various railroads to points in the neighboring terri-
tory, as far as Jackson, Tenn., Jackson, Miss., Little Rock and Hot
Springs, Ark., and Springfield, Mo. At these different points the
Pittsburg river coal competes with coal brought by all-rail from other
coal fields. East of the Mississippi this rail coal comes from south-
ern Illinois, western and southeastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee
and northern Alabama. West of the Mississippi the competing rail
coal comes from mines at Russellville, Ark., and in eastern Oklahoma.
The Pittsburg coal, however, has a distinct advantage for gas-
making purposes.

A coal tipple for loading river craft at Greenville, Miss., was built
about 1895 by the Southern Railway for the purpose of loading
Alabama coal on river craft for transportation to New Orleans and
lower river territory. For about two years the river transportation


was performed by the Ella Layman Transportation Company, of
Charleston, W. Va., under agreement with the Southern Railway, but
the transportation company gave up the business, and five or six
years ago the railroad, which had been operating its o^\^l fleet for
several j^ears, abandoned the attempt, selling its boats and barges to
the Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company, which
ran the fleet for a year or two. After a few years cessation of business
at this point, the latter company is again transporting coal from

From such points as Vicksburg, Natchez, Baton Rouge, and Don-
aldsonville, river coal is delivered in the ''original" coal boats at
plantations and sugar and rice mills. A fleet of coal boats is left at
the "harbor" of one of these delivery points and sent out from there
as needed. The coal trade in the Teche country, in southern Louisiana
west of the Mississippi, has been seriously impaired in the last few
years by the competition of Texas oil.

New Orleans is much the most important point for river coal trafiic
on the Mississippi. River coal is handled here for supplying ocean
and river steamers, for the Texas and Pacific and Southern Pacific
railroads, for local consumption and for delivery to plantations and
sugar and rice mills in the neighboring territory west of the Mississippi.
The bunker trade for ocean steamships forms the largest part of the
trafiic. The steamship bunkers are loaded directly from the coal
boats in which the coal has been brought from Pittsburg. This is
more convenient and takes less time than to load from railroad cars
on the wharf, or to have the steamship go to a coal elevator to
bunker. River coal is also shipped by sea for consumption at Mexi-
can and Central American ports. The coal for locomotive fuel on
the railroads is also a very large item in the traffic, and from 40,000
to 50,000 tons a year goes out on the railroads to the plantation trade.
Most of this river coal trade at New Orleans is handled by the Mo-
nongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company, either di-
rectly or through subsidiarj^ companies.

There is also some trade in anthracite coal at New Orleans, brought
by schooners from Philadelphia and New York. Coal from Alabama,
Kentucky, and Illinois mines comes by rail to New Orleans, and finds
a market in the local steam trade and the neighboring territory east
of the Mississippi River. For the country west of the river, the trans-
fer charges on rail coal give the river coal an advantage.

Bulk Carriers at New Orleans

Several companies are engaged in bulk traffic in the district
around New Orleans, principally in petroleum oil and cotton seed.

The St. Louis Steel Barge Company handles fuel oil in bulk, which
is delivered at plantations and landings on the Alississippi River be-
tween New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The compan}^ was incor-
porated in 1900 under the laws of Missouri, with a capital stock of
$100,000, and operates one towboat and one steel barge. In 1904 it
carried 338,158 barrels of oil; in 1905, 265,686 barrels.

The Louisiana Petroleum Company carries its own oil, received
from a pipe line running from Jennings to Plaquemine, La., and de-
livers along the Mississippi River, between Memphis and New Or-
leans, and on Baj'ou La Fourche. The company was incorporated in


1902 under the laws of Louisiana, with an authorized capital stock
of $200,000, of which $121,200 has been issued. It has three tugs and
six barges.

The Mississippi Transportation Company was organized in 1902
under the laws of Louisiana, with an authorized capital stock of
$20,000, of which $16,400 is issued. It purchased the equipment of
the defunct Interstate Transportation Company, and has two boats
and nine barges, which operate on the Mississippi River between New
Orleans and Greenville, and also on the Atchaf alaya and on Red River.
This company handles principally cotton seed, but also coal, lumber,
logs and bricks, and does some job towing. It began operations in
December, 1906.


It is impossible to obtain accurate statistics of the freight traffic on
the Mississippi as a whole. The Des Moines Rapids Canal at Keokuk
does not fully measure the traffic on the upper section, and there
are no improvements on the lower section where the engineers secure
systematic reports of commerce. Arrangements have been made by
local bodies to gather these statistics, but the results are so unsatis-
factory that the total traffic can only be guessed at. Some place
the total Mississippi traffic at 20,000,000 tons. That this is an exag-
geration, however, is very plain. The engineers' reports, containing
statistics of various sections of the river, foot up a total traffic in
1905 of only 12,650,000 tons, of which 5,675,318 tons represented
trafhc on the upper Mississippi, and 6,974,188 tons traffic on the
lower Mississippi ; and even these figures duplicate traffic moving fi-om
one section to another. Detailed statistics are given in the forego-
ing tables of navigable streams. The United States census reports
the total freight on all the rivers of the Mississippi Valley (includ-
ing the Ohio and its tributaries) in 1906 at 27,856,641 net tons.



Steamboat transportation on the lower Mississippi from the fifties
until the early eighties was the chief agency upon which the people
of the Mississippi Valley depended for the carriage of freight and
passengers. Through boat Imes running from Cincinnati, Louisville,
and St. Louis to New Orleans brought down the products of the
upper rivers, returning with sugar, molasses, and other products from
the lower river. The river was also the main artery of passenger
traffic, and receipts from that source and from the carriage of the
mail were great. One boat sold its bar privilege for the lifetime of
'TT.he boat for $27,000, a sum that built the hull of the steamer. The
I river traffic was interrupted by the war, but sprang up after its close.
M3esides the through lines to the northern cities, there was equally
important trade from Memphis, Greenville, and Vicksburg to New
Orleans, the carriage of cotton being of especial importance, as it
was also to steamboats running up the Red, Arkansas, White, Oua-
chita, Yazoo, and other' streams.
/ From the later sixties until the early eighties the river business
[ enjoyed its greatest importance, and finely equipped steamboats were
) in the service.


One of the earlier lines was the Merchants Line, running from St.
Louis to New Orleans. The fleet was not organized into a company,
but represented a group of separately owned steamboats. The boats
ceased operations many years ago.

Probably the most famous line that operated on the lower IMissis-
sippi was the Anchor Line, whose boats ran south from St. Louis.
At its organization the boats of this line acquired the trade to
Memphis, and finally extended operations to Vicksburg and subse-
quently to New Orleans. The building of railroads along the river
diverted the passenger traffic and was a serious blow to the freight
business. The owTiers of the Anchor Line were unable to cope ^^dth
the railroads and let their boats run down. In 1895 the company
sold out to a New York company, which had the backing of Austin
Corbin & Co.

/'All the Anchor Line boats have now disappeared, except the City
hf Providence, wliich still runs at St. Louis as an excursion boat. At
/one time the Hne owned as many as 19 fine steamboats, operating
^from St. Louis to Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans.

Much cotton formerly went to Vicksburg out of the Yazoo Valley.
The Parisot Line of steamboats ran seven or eight boats in this trade,
having three or four boats leaving each week. This hne operated
only to Vicksburg from up the Tallahatchie, Sunflower, and Yazoo
rivers. Two or three of its boats were built for the tln-ough trade to

Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 11 of 83)