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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New Orleans, but this service did not last long, the line fmding it
more profitable to ship to Vicksburg and there reload the cotton
on boats to New Orleans. Some of the Parisot boats carried as many
as 4,000 bales of "bi^" cotton, while most of them had a capacit}^ of
1,000 to 2,000 bales m seasons of good water. When the water was
low the steamers towed barges for lightering their loads over shoal
places. This line was kno^vn as the "P" Line.

The competition of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad put
the Parisot Line out of business. ♦The boat rate of $1 per bale from
points on the Yazoo River to New Orleans was adopted by the railroad
at points where river and rail met in competition. At points back
from the river the rail rate was more. Even at the same freight rate
from competitive points the railroad had the advantage in the matter
of insurance. The Parisot Line was sold to the Yazoo and Talla-
hatchie Transportation Company about 1888. The latter company
ran about ten 3'ears, finally succumbing to rail competition.

The Mulholland Line ran between Vicksburg and Greenville, oper-
ating one or two boats. The property of the line was 0A\Tied by Capt.
J. J. Powers, of Vicksburg, who, wath Capt. A. F. Nimtz, formed a new
company for the same service, calling it the Vicksburg and Greenville
Packet Company, which is still in existence. Up to about a year or
so ago this company encountered severe competition from the Arkan-
sas River Packet Company, which put in a boat leaving on the same
days as the Belle of the Bends, the boat of the Vicksburg and Green-
ville Packet Company. Finally an agreement was reached by which
the Vicksburg and Greenville t*acket Company still survives, but its
steamboat the Belle of the Bends is operated by the Arkansas River
Packet Company. The incorporators and stockholders of the two
companies are distinct, but Captain Nimtz has become the represen-
tative of the Arkansas River Packet Company at Vicksburg.


Another important company engaged in carrying cotton seed from
the Bends above Vicksburg to New Orleans was the Interstate
Transportation Company, owning five or six towboats and some
thirty or forty barges. This company was in its prime in the
eighties, but went out of existence twelve or fifteen years ago.

One of the most famous lines that operated on the Mississippi in

former days was composed of boats running to New Orleans from

Vicksburg. and Greenville, two a week from Vicksburg and one from

Greenville. These were the Robert E. Lee, J. M. White, Natchez,

Frank Pargoud, and the Katie. They were separately owned, but

were generally run in harmony by agreement, leaving on different

days. They were never organized as one company, nor were they

under common ownership, but for a certain period the earnings were

divided, one pool lasting for five years. These boats were known as

the Vicksburg and New Orleans packets and the Greenville and New

Orleans packets. They disappeared gradually, the end coming about

fifteen years ago, as a result of the sharp railroad competition.

^ There were a first and a second Robert E. Lee on the river, and also

fa first and second Natchez. The fu'st Lee was built in 1866 and the

J first Natchez in 1869. It was between these two boats that the

famous race from New Orleans to St. Louis took place in 1870. The

boats left New Orleans June 30, the Lee arriving at St. Louis at 11.30

Va. m. July 4, the Natchez arriving later.

Boats on the Mississippi have not changed in type from those of

the early days. The substitution of steel for wooden hulls has been

about the only change, and the use of steel hulls is not general.

Only one boat now running to Vicksburg is so built. This boat is

the S. S. Brown of the Ai'kansas River Packet Company. She is a

mew boat. Another steel-hull boat, the Ferd Herold, now owned by

Ithe Lee Line, at Memphis, and operated by it between Memphis and

|St. Louis, made a few irregular trips to Vicksburg some ten years ago.

The opening in 1883 of the Louisville, New Orleans and Texas
Railroad, now known as the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad,
an Illinois Central property, went far toward accomplishing the down-
fall of steamboat traffic on the lower Mississippi. The railroad par-
alleled the river from Memphis to New Orleans, reaching all the
important towns on the east bank of the river. Prior to the opening
of the railroad cotton from this territory had been sent to New
Orleans by river at $1 to $1.50 per bale, but on the completion of
the railroad the rail rate soon reached a point where it was unprofit-
able for the boats to handle cotton. From river competitive points
such as Vicksburg the rail rate dropped as low as 45 or 50 cents
per bale to New Orleans, while fi'om points back from the river such
as Rolling Fork, Miss., about 40 miles from Vicksburg and 10 from
the river, the railroad recouped itself by charging $1 to S2 per bale.

The matter of insurance also operated against the river route. The
railroad rates, as given above, included the common carrier's hability
of risk, but on all cotton shipped l)y boat the sliipper was put to
an additional expense of from one-half of 1 per cent to 1 per cent
of the value of the shipment. The premium on sliipments from
Vicksburg to New Orleans amounted to 25 cents on a bale of
cotton valued at


In the early eighties and before, there were Hnes of cotton boats
running to New Orleans from Memphis, Greenville, and Vicksburg,
built especially to carry cotton. One of them, the Henry Frank,
carried the record cargo of 9,226 bales, of which three-fourths were
big or uncompressed bales. This cargo was carried to New Orleans
in 1881.

With the spread of cotton compresses throughout the South the
conditions under which cotton is transported altogether changed.
Formerly the only compresses were located at important centers, such
as Mempliis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans. Nowadays any to^\^l of
comparatively slight importance has its own compress. Practically
all these compresses have excellent facilities for receiving and shipping
the bales by rail. The railroad track is at the door of the compress,
and on cotton that has been brought to the compresses by the railroad
a ''refund" is allowed if the cotton is sent from the compress by
rail. This has overturned the old system of handling cotton by river.
The planter still sends Ms cotton to the commission merchant or
factor to sell and the latter sells it to the cotton buyer who has the
cotton compress. The buyer now ships the cotton directly from the
compress on a through bill of lading to the New England mills, to
Liverpool, Havre, or elsewhere. Export cotton is generally routed
via New Orleans, and that for New England may go by one of several
routes, a good part of the latter being handled b}^ the Illinois Central
via Louisville or Cincinnati. ^luch of this formerly went by river
to Cairo or to Cincinnati, whence it was forwarded by rail to New


In the treatment of this subject only so much of it as refers to
terminals on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and their immediate
tributaries is considered. The wider aspects of the subject of port
terminal facilities, including the ownership and administration of
docks and wharves on the Great Lakes and on the Atlantic and
Pacific seaboards, although in a measure relating to commerce on
tidal streams, has in this connection been omitted.

In this portion of the present appendix the Ohio River terminals
are fu-st considered, followed by a consideration of Mississippi River


Most of the river landings oh the Ohio and its immediate tributa-
ries appear to be owned by riparian municipalities. A serious diffi-
culty encountered by lines operating on the Ohio and its tributaries is
the matter of excessive wharfage charges.

According to representations of the packet lines out of Pittsburg
and of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce it is said to be a common
practice for the little towns along the Ohio and its tributaries to levy
wharfage charges, and if the packet fines were to stop at each point
ffom Pittsburg' to Cincinnati the avera^fe cost would probabl}'- be
from $40 to $60 per boat ; hence in order to avoid this expense boat
lines now stop only at the larger ports.

In many places, in addition to wharfage charges, a charge is made
for so-called " agency service, " in return For which the shipper has the


privilege of carrying the freight over the wharves. The result, in
many places, is to make the rate by boat equal to, if not greater
than by rail.

These charges in some instances run from one-fourth to one-third
of the net profits of the boat; for instance, during the period fi'om
January 25, 1905, to January 3, 1907, these charges on a steamer
running between Pittsburg and Charleston, W. Va., down the Ohio
and up the Great Kanawha rivers, were $3,276.69; estimated to be
about one-fourth the net profits of the boat during that period.

In a recent discussion of the wharf question Mr. H. D. W. Enghsh,
president of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, maintained that
maldng the wharves a source of revenue should not be encouraged
at the expense of water transportation and that every effort should
be made to make the wharves as available for shipping as the rail-

The packet line has to pay the wharf agents a commission of 8
per cent on all business in and out, at such cities as Hawesville,
Ky., and Tell City, Ind. Wliere the '' wharf boats " are owned by indi-
viduals they make a charge of 20 to 30 per cent of the boat freight
for the privilege of landing. At rail competitive points this charge
has to be absorbed by the steamboats to keep the business from going
by rail.

At Parkersburg, W. Va., the shipper or consignee has to pay the
agent's charges in addition to the regular freight rate of the boat,
and the boat itself has to pay out city wharf charges ranging from
$1 to $2 per week, as fixed by municipal ordinance.

At Rochester, Pa., the boats pay a landing charge and also an
"agency fee;" and in addition, the shipper or consignee pays for the
use of the wharf or wharf boat.

In a statement to an agent of the Bureau of Corporations in the sum-
mer of 1907 Mr. W. H. Williams, traffic manager of the Pittsburg
Chamber of Commerce, said :

It is useless to think of spending $60,000,000 for tlie improvement of the Ohio River
if the local communities are to make charges which will prevent the merchants
trading at the various towns along the river. The only use that could be made of the
river would then be for solid cargoes of coal and other commodities, for which a
boat would not find it necessary to stop along the river.

The Cairo Trust Property is a corporation that some sixty years
ago owned the neck of land on which Cairo is situated. This corpo-
ration sold land from time to time, and whenever the land sold was
situated on the river front the corporation retained the right of assess-
ing and collecting wharfage. In 1876 the ''Trust Property" was sold
by the United States court at Springfield, 111., in foreclosure proceed-
ings. A reorganization was efl'ectecl in this court and the affairs of
the company placed in the hands of two trustees, Henry and Edwin
Parsons, of New York. George Parsons acts as general agent for the
trustees at Cairo.

The rates of wharfage obtaining at Cairo are shown on the follow-
ing^copy of the tariff of this corporation. These rates apply along
tlm, part of the Ohio River front that has been improved by the
trustees of the Cairo Trust Property, which extends from Fourth
street to Eighth street. Outside of these Hmits on the unimproved
river front the rates are subject to special agreement, all wharfage
charges going to the Cairo Trust Property.

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 10



Two and one-fourtli cents per ton in advance, hull measurement, on all boats and
barges for the use of the landing for twenty-four hours or less, and one-half these rates
for additional time ; provided , no boat shall pay less than $5 for each and every twenty-
four hours or less. For boats remaining but six hours a reduction upon these rates of
25 per cent will be made, and upon the payment of one full wharfage for twenty-four
hours on boats going downstream they will have the right to land on return on same
trip without additional wharfage; provided, no boat shall pay less than §5 for each and
every twenty-four hotu-s or less. Any departure from these rates will be by special
agreement, but boats used exclusively in towing, and boats landing for repairs or sup-
plies only, will not be charged for landing at river bank in location to be designated by
wharf master, the time for use of landing by towboats and boats landing for repairs and
supplies to be limited to a reasonable time to be fixed by wharf master.

Barges containing 200,000 feet and under, $2 per barge, each load.
Barges containing 200,000 to 500,000 feet, $5 per barge, each load.
Barges containing 500,000 to 800,000 feet, $8 per barge, each load.
Barges containing 800,000 feet and upward, |10 per barge, each load.

Boats and barges of ties unloading at Cairo, 80 cents per 1,000 ties; but no boat or
barge shall pay less than $2 for each load.
All loads to be estimated by wharfage collector.

Following is the blank form of receipt issued by the Cairo Trust
Property for the use of river landings:
No. : Cairo, III., , 190-.

Steamer To Henry Parsons and Edwin Parsons, Trustees of the Cai^-o Trust

Property, Dr.

For use of landing tons at rates as per other side, dollars.

Received payment.

Henry Parsons and Edwin Parsons,


$ . By

Wharf Master.

At Cincinnati there is a public landing, which includes that portion
of the river front extending from the east line of Broadway to the
west line of Main street, and the river termini of various streets are
improved to low-water mark.

Wharfage fees for the use of the public landing, as established by
ordinance of 1902, are:

For wharf boats: One-half cent per day for each lineal foot of the water front occupied.
For steamboats and other water craft;
For the first twenty-four hours —

10 to 150 tons register, $1.50.

Over 150 tons register, $2.50.

More than twenty-four hours and less than twelve days, \\ cents per ton.

More than twelve days, $1 per day.
For barges and model barges, $2.50 per day.

For the use of street termini the charge for mooring steamboats,
barges or other water craft, and rafts of logs and lumber other than
wharf boats is %\ per day for certain streets and 50 cents per day for
others. For cargoes discharged on the public landing and remaining
more than four days a charge of 10 cents for each 100 square feet
occupied is made.


In 1904 the city council of Cincinnati passed an ordinance author-
izing the Louisville and Nashville Railroad to construct elevated
tracks above the public landing, but the railroad company was
enjoined from constructing the tracks and ordered to remove the
portion built, and this order was affirmed in June, 1907, by the
supreme court of Oliio, which held not only that the city council had
no power to make such a grant, but also that —

It is not in the power of the legislature, unless in the exercise of the power of eminent
domain, to authorize property, dedicated to the public for a specific purpose, to be
used for a pmpose inconsistent with the purpose for which it was dedicated.

Certain landings and wharf lots are leased by the city to coal com-
panies and others at an aggregate rental (in 1906) of $21,723. There
is a perpetual lease of one wharf to the Oliio and Mississippi Railroad
(Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern) for $1,725.

Apparently no city ordinance regarding wharfage has been passed
at Marietta, Ohio, since the ordinance of April 6, 1869, amended
August 8, 1871. This ordinance provides that each steamboat and
craft not more than 80 feet in length shall pay a wharfage charge of
$2 for the first twenty-four hours and $1 for each subsequent twenty-
four hours, and each barge, keel, or fiatboat $1 for each twenty-four
hours and $1 for each subsequent twenty-four hours.

The city council is empowered to make such change by resolution
as may be deemed expedient. The wharf master has the power
during the interval between city council meetings to make such
temporary arrangements as he may deem advisable for the best in-
terests of the city, but such arrangements shall not be enforced
beyond the succeeding council meeting unless sanctioned by the
council .

The wharf master is appointed annually by the mayor. Whole-
sale houses at Marietta doing a regular business by river pay an
agency charge of $60 per jenr to the owner of the wharf boat. Those
houses whose business is not extensive enough to warrant this ex-
penditure pay a charge ranging from 1 to 2 cents. per hundred pounds.
All packets touching at Marietta land at the wharf boat except the
steamer Sonoma. Gasoline boats do not use the wharf boat, but
land at the incline at the foot of Fourth street, paying the city a
wharfage charge of about 50 cents a landing. Gasoline boats handle
their ovm. freight and pav no agency charge for this purpose. Ship-
ments from Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, and other points north
and west of Marietta are consigned to the care of the wharf boat at
^larietta and forwarded by the proprietors of the wharf boat to
points as far as Matamoras, Ripley, and West Union, Ohio. On
these shiy)ments no through rates are made, local rates being charged
by the railroad and also by the packet line. When necessary to get
business the boats sometimes cut down their rates, but the railroads
make no rate concessions. The amount received by the city of
Marietta during the calendar j-ear 1906 for wharfage and for the
license for the maintenance of the wharf boat was $1,086.96. The
wharf master's chief revenue is derived from the agency charges that
he makes to consignees and shippers. The wharf boat is owned
by Hornbrook & Best, Mr. Hornbrook being the city wharf master.
The agency charges amount to about 20 per cent of the freight rate
charged by the packet line.


No city wharfage charges are paid at Point Pleasant, W. Va., and
the wharf master receives no salary from the city. The city keeps
up about 150 feet of river front as a public landing. The only in-
come that the city receives from this river front for landing purposes
is a license fee of $50 for the maintenance of the wharf boat at the
public landing. This privilege is held by Mr. S. G. Gardner, who also
operates the steamer Gondola between Charleston and Gallipolis. A
yearly charge of about 25 cents per short ton is made as an agency
fee to the wholesale houses doing business over the boat. This is
the basis of the yearly charge made to wholesale houses doing a con-
siderable business. Such houses as do not have a business sufficiently
large to warrant a yearly payment and other consignees and ship-
pers pay about 20 per cent of the carrier's rate as an agency charge.
Very little income is derived by the wharf boat from storage charges,
since shipments are removed, as a rule, almost as soon as landed.
Where goods are left at the wharf boat for a month or more, the
storage charge per month is about one-tliird the carrier's rate.

Wharfage charges at Wheeling, W. Va., are based upon the number
of the landings a boat makes per week. A large boat making a landing
each way per week pays $2 per week. This is the price paid by the
Pittsburg and Cincinnati Packet Line for each boat and by the
steamer Kanawha running between Pittsburg and Charleston. Smaller
boats do not pay so much. The steamer Lorena pays $1 per week
(50 cents each way), as does also the steamer Greenwood. The steam-
ers Bessie Smith and H. K. Bedford, pay $1.50 a week, making three
landings. The steamer Royal pays $3.50 per week, landing every
day, while the steamer Ruth (a smaller steamer) pays $3 per week
for the same number of landings. The wharf boat is owned by
Crockard & Booth, who pay a city and county tax as well as a license
fee to the city for the privilege of mooring their boat at the public
landing. The license fee amounts to $75 per year. The wharfage
charge paid by boats goes to the city. At the same time boats pay
the owners of the wharf boat a percentage for collections made for
them as well as for business secured ; that is to say, business passing
over the wharf boat. Another source of revenue to the wharf boat
is for storage of goods after twenty-four hours from receipt of same.
The wharf master at Wlieeling is elected by popular vote and serves
for two years. There is a railroad track along the street at the top
of the river bank. Both the Pennsylvania and the Baltimore and
Ohio railroads use this track and frequently obstruct the passage to
and from the wharf boat.

At Pittsburg the Pittsburg Harbor proper is formed by the dam at
Davis Island in Ohio River just below Pittsburg. This dam creates a
basin as far up the Monongahela River as Dam No. 1 and up the
Allegheny River as far as Herr Island Dam. Improvements in the
depth of the harbor and facilities for navigation are described at
length in the annual reports of the Chief of Engineers. With the ex-
ception of paving the somewhat steep river bank west of the Smith-
field Street Bridge little attempt has been made by the city to
improve its dock facilities. Along this bank lie four wharf boats:

1. The wharf boat of the Monongahela and Ohio Packet Company.

2. The so-called Patterson wharf boat, owned jointly by the
Pittsburg, ^Vheeling and Parkersburg Packet Company, the Ohio
and Great Kanawha River Packet Company, operatmg the steamer


Kanawha, the Pittsburg antl Kanawha River Packet Company,
operating the steamer Greenwood, and the ^onongahela and Ohio
Packet Companv- Each of these companies owns one-fourth of the
wharf boat, and the agent of the Monongahela and Oliio Packet Com-
pany at Pittsburg acts as local agent at Pittsburg for these lines.
*3. The wharf boat of the Pittsburg and Cincimiati Packet Line.

4. The wharf boat of the Monongaliela River Consolidated Coal and
Coke Company.

Below these wharf boats little or no effort has been made to
improve the landing facilities. Klein's excursion steamer and barges
and some of the river coal companies have landing privileges, and
the A. R. Budd Coal Company maintams a small supply boat for
its craft.

On the Allegheny River side of Pittsburg Harbor some retail coal
companies and sand dredging companies have landing privileges,
maintaining hoists for discharging their craft. None of the lower
river tows are made up on this side of the harbor, however, nor below
"The Point," W'hich is the point of land in Pittsburg city between the
Monongahela and Allegheny rivers where they unite to form the Ohio.

The north shore of the Monongahela River from Grant street to
The Point and the south bank of the Allegheny from Ninth street
to The Point are said to include the area deeded by the Penn
heirs in 1784 for use as city docks forever. The other portions of the
river front are owmed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company,
the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad Company, the Pennsylvania
Railroad Company, and various iron and steel mills, etc.

There exists a good deal of uncertainty regardmg the ownership of
the river front. The deed of the Penn heirs referred to is on file at
the court-house at Greensburg, Pa. Judicial decisions involving a
construction of this deed are reported in 48 Pa., 253, 16 S. and R.,
389, and 104 Pa., 472.

The second edition of the Ordinances of Pittsburg of 1897 (page
353 et seq. and page 507 et seq .) gives the ordmances of the city now
in force relating to wharf ancl harbor matters. A new digest was
being prepared, and a proposed ordmance radically changing these
ordinances and increasing the charges to be made was being con-
sidered by the city councils in June, 1907.

The administration of the docks and wharves at Pittsburg is under
the department of public works, bureau of city property." The docks
are in the care of the wharf master of the city, who is appointed
by the director of public works. The salary of the wharf master is
SlOO per month, and he has two assistants compensated at the rate

Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 12 of 83)