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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Total assessed valuation 3, 292, 713. 00

The tax was as follows :

For State uses 14, 220. 23

For uses of taxing districts used for canal purposes other than waterway . 11, 172. 24

Total tax 25, 392. 47

The above figures do not vary much from those given in prior
reports for several years preceding.

Tra^c. — The character of the commodities moving through the
canal is shown in the table below.



Article.


Tonnage.


Direction.


1904.


1905.


Wood


2,320
5,094
3,681
6,701


1,780
282


East.


Brick


Do.




Do.






Do.


Iron pipe


25


Do.


Do


63

2

66,582


West.


Lumber




Do.


Coal


53,762
19,719




Do


West.









A greater amount of coal is carried on the canal than of all other
commodities combined. The only freight besides coal carried on the
canal during the season of 1906 was 22 cargoes of wood of 40 tons
each and one cargo of 60 tons of brick.

The total tonnage carried in 1866, the year of greatest prosperity,
was 889,220 tons; in 1870, 707,572 tons; and in 1871, 629,044 tons.
During the five succeeding years after the lease to the Lehigh Valley



STATE AND PRIVATE CANALS



265



Railroad Company the tonnage steadily declined, as shown in the
following table : "■



Year.


Tonnage.


Yeav.


Tonnage.


1872




685, 191
634,710
491,810


1875


451,045


1873


1876


399, 613


1874









The tonnage of 1876 was but little more than half that of 1S72.
In 1880 the tonnage was 503,486; in 1885, 364,554; in 1890, 394,432;
and in 1895, 270,931.*

From 1897 to 1906, inclusive,- the tonnage carried annually was as
follows :





Year.


Tonnage.


Year.


Tonnage.


1897

1898

1899

1900

1901




231,870

191,287

173, 555

125,829

; 122, 786


1902

1903

1904

1905

1906


27,392
76, 165
84,380
75,631
88,773



The decrease in 1902 was doubtless an effect of the strike of the
anthracite coal miners.

In 1904 the company operated 50 canal boats towed by mules,
and 52 boats in 1905. No other agencies are owned or operated on
the canal.

Comparison of rail and canal service. — The Central Railroad of New
Jersey, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, and the
Lehigh Valley Railroad, all double tracked, appear to compete directly
vdih the Morris Canal. These roads were estimated in the Report of
the Commissioners of 1903 '^ to have a carrying capacity of at least
ten times that of the canal, and it was pointed out that —

the railroads operate constantly, while the canal can be operated only seven or eight
months in the year. The railroads which compete with the canal all run from its
western terminus at Phillipsburg to the easterly terminus at the Hudson River, and
all are from 20 to 30 miles shorter than the canal. The time required for moving freight
between these termini by rail appears to be about nine hours, while the time required
by the canal is between fom" and five days. Allowing four or five days for discharging
cargo at the Hudson River and for the return trip, it requires from eight to ten days to
cover each shipment of 70 tons of coal from Phillipsburg to tidewater. Moreover,
there are practically no return freights on the canal, as substantially all miscellaneous
freight is carried by rail. As to the relative cost of moving freight by canal or by rail,
it is stated by the canal company that the amount paid captains in freights and the
expense of maintaining boats is almost equal to the amount received for transportation
on the canal.

Proposed dbandonment. — In 1903, under resolution of the New
Jersey legislature, a commission was appointed (consisting of George
T. Werts, John W. Griggs, and Foster M. Voorhees) to investigate
and report upon the abandonment of the Morris Canal. The com-

« Report of Commissioners, 1903, pp. 30 and 31.
b Report of the Commissioners, 1903, pp. 30 and 31.
cPage 34.

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 18



266 KEPOET OF THE INLAND WATEKWAYS COMMISSION

missioners reported that the small size of the canal and the elevation
of 914 feet from tidewater to the summit of Lake Hopatcong are
great detriments to the economical operation of the canal. As the
report states (p. 36) —

it is necessary to pass the boats through a great number of locks and to actually take
them out of the water and divide them in two parts, and elevate them by means of
inclined planes, to overcome the grades. This method, while ingenious and unique,
and in its time useful, is at present obsolete and unprofitable.

In view of th^se facts, the commissioners conclude that apparently
the canal can not be operated either by the company itself or by its
lessee or by the State without a large annual loss. The report of the
commission does not take cognizance of the possibility of enlargement
and improvement of the canal to meet modern requirements. The
conception by the commission of the problem presented to it appears
to have been confined to a recommendation as to whether navigation
on the canal be abandoned, and, having decided tliis in the affirma-
tive, to devise and recommend some scheme of abandonment whereby
the State could —

without incurring any State debt, insure just compensation to all parties interested
and entitled thereto. a

Numerous protests were sent to the commissioners of 1903 against
the abandonment of the canal. One petitioner wrote as follows:

We, all of us here, are opposed to the abandonment of the canal for the reason that we
would be entirely at the mercy of the Delaware and Lackawanna Railroad Company.
We were compelled last winter to cart our Lehigh coal from the Lehigh and Hudson
Railroad, about 4 miles. The Lackawanna people refused to bring coal from Easton
for us. We had to use their soft coal at their price or go without. If the canal is
abandoned we will be in a terrible situation. I have been in business here for the
last forty years. My business was good until 1871, when the Lehigh took possession.
Then there were over 600 boats in good running order; now there are less than 60. It
looks as if they got the canal for the purpose of abandoning it as soon as they could
do what they have been trying to do for the last fifteen years. They can't supply 10
per cent of the demand there is for coal along the line of the canal with the boats they
have. I don't see what they have in mind. The canal could be made to pay good if
they give it a chance. There certainly might be more demand for coal now than
there was in 1871.

Another petitioner says :

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company now argues as a reason for the canal's abandon-
ment that it is not a paying institution. The first thing that suggests itself in reply
to that suggestion is to ask in reply, "Then, why do you not abandon it uncondi-
tionally, and let the valuable right you got from the State to induce you to maintain
it, return to the State?" All that the canal owners can ask of the State is that they
shall not be compelled to operate this losing venture. There is nothing in this position
of a nonpaying investment which in anywise justifies the demand that the com-
pany shall be permitted to retain what it received as a price for promising to main-
tain the venture, win or lose. The company (railroad) procured the control of the
canal for the very purpose of removing its competition. That it has fully succeeded
in this object is shown in its own respectable testimony. For it says, "We should be
relieved of the canal's operation, because we are not operating it at a profit, but at a
loss." That was their very purpose in acciuiring it — to prevent it from competing
with the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

A third petitioner asserts the belief that it is susceptible of legal
proof that by the nonuse of the canal the rights and franchise of the
canal company and its lessee have reverted to the original owners
and to the State, and also that the attempt to abandon the canal is




Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 28 of 83)