Vermont. Railroad Commissioner.

Biennial report of the Railroad Commissioner of the State of Vermont online

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waiver of a jurisdictional question does not enlarge the legal
powers of the Board. Complaints have been made to the
Board as to matters plainly and clearly without its province
to inquire into, or, at least, beyond its power to reconmiend
a cure ; but it has not in any such case declined to summon
the parties before it, believing that the mere fact of having
a meeting of the parties and a conference as to the alleged
grievance in the presence of the Board would be beneficial,
and likely to result in a satisfactory adjustment of the mat-
ter or to point the way thereto; and this has proved to be so
in every such case.

The published reports of the Interstate Commerce Com-
mission, including its frequent decisions upon questions com-
ing before it, are of great interest and value to the various
State Boards, not only by reason of the high, recognized
standing of the Cormnission, but also for the reason that
its work is a kindred one, and, in many matters, the work
of the National Board may be forwarded by that of the
State Board, and vice versa. This is so particularly in refer-
ence to obtaining uniformity and harmony in classification
of freight, railway legislation, and in railway construction.

Appreciating this, the Interstate Commerce Commission
in January, 1889, initiated the idea of having a conference
of the State and National Boards, and sent out letters of in-
quiry to the several State Boards, submitting the feasibility
and desirability of such a conference, and asking for an ex-

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40 BAILROAD commissioners' BEPORT.

pression of views in reply ; and such answers were received
as to result in a call of a convention to be held in Washing-
ton, at the ofliceof the Interstate Commerce Commission, on
March 5, 1889, at which convention twenty-three States
were represented by forty-four representatives; and the
Association of American Railway Accounting Officers was
also present by members representing twelve of the import-
ant railroads of tlie country. This conference or convention,
presided over by Hon. Thomas M. Cooley, Chairman of the
Interstate Commerce Commission, was in session for three
days ; and, in the opinion of this Board, the meeting was a
very profitable one. Various committees were appointed on
the leading subjects (and upon " Railway Legislation " the
Chairman of this Board was appointed as a member) with
instructions to make reports at the next meeting of the con-
vention. The second like conference was held at the same
place on May 28th and 29th, 1890, and this Board was again
represented. This meeting was numerously attended, and
was even of more interest than the first.

The discussions of the conference disclosed and em-
phasized the fact tliat the diversity of opinions of the mem-
bers from the various States represented, was as great as
the diversity of the interests of the various sections of the
country ; still, there was no want of harmony ; no want of
effort to make progress in several of the more important
subjects ; noticably, those of securing uniform legislation by
the several States, and the General Government on the
subject of " The definition and prohibition of unjust dis-
crimination," " The prohibition of undue and unreasonable
preferences and advantages," " The requirement of equal
facilities for the interchange of traffic," "The regulation of

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the relations between rates of compensation to be allowed for
long and short hauls." And the following resolutions,
which were reported by the Committee on Railway Legis-
lation, were adopted as reported: —

" Resolved :— That the respective States either directly by law, or in-
directly through the instrumentality of their Railroad Commissions,
should require each railroad corporation subject to their jurisdictions
to place upon every freight car hereafter constructed or purchased by
it, and upon every freight car owned by it, the coupler or draw-bar of
which is repaired by it, an automatic coupler of the Master Gar
Builders' type at each end of the car.

Besolved : — ^That a uniform requirement of train brakes on freight
cars and of driving-wheel brakes on locomotives is desirable.

Resolved: — ^That Ckmgreea either directly by law or indirectly
through the instrumentality of the Interstate Commerce Conunission,
should take similar action."

The importance of the subjects covered by these resolu-
tions can hardly be overstated ; as it is a conceded fact that
but little real progress can be made in bringing about the
uniform use of automatic couplers on freight cars, and also
of train brakes on freight cars, except by National legis-
lation seconded by that of the States : from the fact that it
appears from reliable statistics, that principally for the want
of these life saving and accident preventing devices, there
occurred in the United States for the year ending June 30,
1889, to trainmen, casualties as follows : —

In coupling and uncoupling cars — killed 800, injured 6,757
Falling from trains and engines — " 498, ** 2,011

And to emphasize the importance of the subject of casual-
ties to trainmen generally, and the duty resting upon all who
have or may have to do with it, to spare no effort to avoid
or lessen these accidents, it is only necessary to state, that

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during the same period of time (June 30, 1888, to June 30,
1889,) the number killed in the United States was 1,972,
and the number injured 20,030 — an army of over 22,000
killed or maimed in a single year.

It is due to the Interstate Commerce Commission to say,
that it collectively, and by its individual members, evinced
the liveliest interest in these subjects, and gave the most posi-
tive assurance by remark and otherwise, that it would do all
that was reasonably possible to bring about the accomplish-
ment of the sentiments expressed in the foregoing resolu-
tions. It would be profitable to make report in detail as to
the doings of these conventions, but want of space will not
permit. In the opinion of the Board, much good wiU come
from these coventions, and it is to be hoped that they will
continue to be held from year to year ; at least, until the
more important subjects above referred to have been as
successfully disposed of through needed legislation.

There is another subject, and one affecting the material
and industrial interests of our people to a large extent, that,
in the opinion of the Board, it may be necessary, at least,
to bring to the attention of the Interstate Commerce Com-
mission through the opportunity offered by these annual
conferences, or otherwise, as it is a subject matter, so far
as can be ascertained, in which all or nearly all of the States are
alike interested. It is safe to assume, without fear of contra-
diction, that the easiest and most available avenue to reach
the ear and get the attention of tlie Congress of the United
States on the subject of railway legislation is through the
Insterstate Commerce Commission, and therefore the perti-
nency of what we here suggest on this subject.

It is said by the Interstate Commerce Commission — see

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its report of 1888, page 81, — "The statute (the Interstate
Commerce Act) in its requirements of reasonable and just
rates, has had in view the protection of the public from extor-
tion and from unfair discriminations. It does not assume that
railroad companies will need protection against their rates
being unreasonably low, and it has not conferred upon the
Commission any power to order an increase of rates which it
can see are not remunerative. In general, therefore, it may
be said that railroad managers possess the power to destroy
the interests not only of their rivals, but of their own stock-
holders, if they wiU recklessly make rates that lead to

It will, of course, be understood, that the above quoted
remarks of the Conmiission only have reference to rates on
interstate traflSc, and from them we learn that it (the Com-
miflsion) is powerless to prevent railroad companies from
carrying at rates so low as to be unremunerative.

And again it is weU said by the Commission in its afore-
said report of 1888, page 23, — "No State in the exercise
of its controlling authority would ever deliberately prescribe
for a railroad company a tariflE of charges which would fall
below a reasonable compensation for the service performed.
Abundant reason for abstaining would be found in the fact
that it would not be for the interest of the citizens that it
should do so." "The people want good railroad service and
they ought to have it at fair rates ; but to give them this it
is needful that the road be kept in good condition and well
equipped ; that the trains be suflSciently manned and well
handled ; that competent servants be employed and fairly
paid and that the company avail itself of all new appliances
which are calculated to make the service more speedy, more
convenient or more safe."

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The propositions above quoted all have the unqualified
approval of the Board and are deemed by it to be of value
in view of what follows.

The Board has given careful study of the returns of the
several railroads of the State, which may be found else-
where in this report, and especially that part by which we
are informed as to their financial condition ; the amount of
business done by each, and the avet'age freight and passen-
ger rates ; and, judging from these returns, it is difficult to
conclude that the remuneration of any of our railroads as a
whole, is greater than it should be; and, in fact, it would seem
that some of them were receiving less, in view of needed per-
manent improvements. And whenever it has been suggested
that our local rates were too high, the answer has universally
been, " we cannot afford to do the business for less," which
claim seems to be corroborated and sustained by the returns.

While but few complaints have been made to the Board
as to excessive rates, it is impressed that, as a general prop-
osition, they are too high ; that is, upon traffic beginning
and ending in this State. And while the revenue of the
various roads as given in the returns, is as before stated, not
too great as a whole, the Board is, from its knowledge as to
local rates and the average given in the returns, forced to
conclude that the very low rates charged or received in an
immense volume of interstate business, very much of which
the people of the State have but little or no interest in, is
thus transported at the expense of local traffic. In other
words, that the local business — that beginning and ending
in the State — has to pay and does pay a heavy tribute to the
through business ; and this at the expense of the varied local
industries, struggling hard for existence ; and to the debar-
ring of others that might otherwise be encouraged to grow

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RAILROAD commissioners' REPORT. 45

and prosper among ns. Now, if the Board is correct in its
premises and conclusions, there should be a remedy, but, as
will readily be seen, it is not an easy matter to find one,
and if found, to apply it. If, as is claimed, much of this
through traffic yields but little or no pecuniary return for
the service rendered, then it is clear that the through rates
are too low, and over which the State Board has no power ;
and the Board therefore concludes, that if Congress should
be invoked to give to the Interstate Commerce Commission,
power and authority so to fix rates — even to raise them —
on Interstate traffic, that local business may not be unjustly

The alternative resort would be to give to the State
Board the power to fix rates — a power sometimes given,
but not always wisely exercised ; — a power difficult to exe-
cute without danger of doing injustice by reason of the
complex and intricate questions involved.


The railroad map of the State has been revised to the
end of the present biennial term, and includes all new rail-
roads built within the past two years.


In the appendix are published all the public statutes of
the State relating to railroads.


In conclusion the Board would say, that while the statute
in terms requires it to include in its Biennial Keport " a
record of all their proceedings under this act," it has not
deemed it necessary to a full compliance with the spirit of

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the law to reproduce the full correspondence between it
and the parties interested, but only such portions of the
same as are necessary to characterize clearly the issues raised
upon complaints and petitions and the answers thereto,
omitting much correspondence which the clerk's files con-
tain and which has been considered in hearings, and in re-
porting its decisions. Such parts of the correspondence are
published as appear to be required to justify the conclusions
reached by the Board in cases considered.

Kespectf ully submitted,

Bam'l E. PiNaBEB,
Ebenezer J. Obmsbee,
Teuman C. Fletcheb.

Railroad Commissioners.

Attest : Alfred E. Watson, Clerk.
Sept. 15, 1890.

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Line of Road, — From the southerly terminus of the Barre
Branch Railroad, near the northerly limits of Barre village,
through the village southerly to the granite quarries on the
high hill in the southerly part of the town. Total length
of track, including branches to the various quarries and
sidings, 20 miles. About one-half of the total length is spur
tracks and sidings. Guage, standard. Rails, steel, 60 pounds
per lineal yard.

History. — This road was organized under the general law
of the State, and its articles of association were filed with the
Secretary of State in the autumn of 1888. Construction was at
once commenced and the main line was completed and in
operation in the summer of 1889, since which some ten miles
more of sidings and track to different quarries have been ad-
ded, and these are being multiplied as the development of
new plants requires.

Inspections, — The first inspection of the road was made by
the full Board, July 31, 1889, and the second by the full
Board, August 19, 1890.

It was found at the last inspection that stone sheds are be-
ginning to be built on the hill near the quarries and many
small houses also for the workmen and their families, while
at the first inspection there were no work shops or dwellings
near the quarries, and the quarrymen went to and returned
from their work to the village daily. Therefore, the passenger
carriage for workmen and visitors has been considemblo, and
the last year the passenger traffic has been an item of some



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There are two long trestle bridges south of the village, the
first 200 feet and the second 400 feet long, which are the only
bridges on the line. These are strongly built and adequate
to the heavy traffic of the road.

Rails are all steel, 60 pounds to the lineal yard. The ties
are spaced 2700 to the mile. They are generally cedar and
hemlock on tangents, and tamarack on all curves.

The grade in the ascent of the mountain is steep, — at one
point 264 feet to the mile, — and on one of the spur tracks
330 feet to the mile.

The freight traffic of this road is the granitic rock quarried
from the mountain, and in the brief space of fourteen months
it has built and developed an industry second only in magni-
tude to the marble quarrying interests at Proctor and Rut-
land, in this State. Several thousand workmen are employed
in connection with these quarries and their products.


Line of Road, — It extends from Bennington village to the
southern part of Glastenbury, a distance of 8.97 miles, with
1 mile of sidings.

The road is one-half inch less than standard gauge. Rails,
iron, of 40 pounds per yard weight.

History, — This road, constructed in 1872, was designed and
is operated especially for the development and carrying on of
lumbering and charcoal business in the hill-country of Wood-
ford and Glastenbury, northeast of Bennington.

In summer the passenger traffic becomes considerable from
the frequent picnic and other excursion parties who seek
brief outings in the wild region it penetrates.

There is also a delightful summer resort and home recently
opened here, where many city people with their families seek
and find rest.

Inspections.— 'M.^Q July 17, 1889, and July 2, 1890.

This road has served so far for the purpose for which it was

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built — a coal and lumber road — without accident occurring
through defect of its physical condition.

The road-bed is generally grown up to grass ; the ballasting
is neglected ; the rails are badly bent and abraded, and all
border policing neglected.

The cattle-guards, fences and highway crossings do not
fulfil the law and the bridges are unsafe.

A fuller description of the condition of this road may be
found in the last Biennial Report on pages 47 and 48.

There are no signs of improvement here, as a wliole, in the
last three years.


Line of Road, — This road extends from Bennington to
Rutland, 57.06 miles, and from North Bennington to New
York State line, 1.85 miles. Total length of line, 58.91
miles. Sidings, 5.25 miles. Guage, standard. Rails, steel,
60 pounds weight.

History. — Chartered as the Western Vermont Railroad
Company, November 5, 1845. The branch from Noi-th
Bennington to New York State line, to connect with the
Troy & Bennington Railroad, was opened in July, 1852. The
part from North Bennington to Bennington in 1854.

It went into the hands of mortgage trustees, January 1,
1857, and was consolidated with the Lebanon Springs Rail-
road in February, 1870, under the name of the Harlem
Extension Railroad Company. This consolidated line was
leased to the Central Vermont Railroad Company in 1873,
but the lease was abandoned in 1877, and the road reverted to
the mortgage trustees of the original companies.

There was a re-organization under the name of the Benning-
ton & Rutland Railway Company, which company has
operated the line since September 10, 1877.

Inspections. — The first inspection was made July 11, 1889,
the last July 2, 1890. The road is now all laid with 60

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52 RAILROAD commissioners' REPORT.

pound steel rails, the last having been put in since the Bi-
ennial Report of 1888.

The ballast is first class and the road-bed in good general

The bridges are generally of the Howe truss pattern, and
all the original bridge structures have been replaced by new
ones since the road began to operate, and about one-half of
all bridges on the line are not over ten years old.

The floor systems of the new or built-over bridges are of
modern type, with close ties, and all bridges are built with a
slight swell at center. The extended improvement in the
floor system of the bridges of this road, since the inspection
of 1887, has been especially noticeable and commendable, and
it is still progressing.

The road ties are in good renewal and well spaced, 2 feet
from center to center.

The station house at Bennington village is in no respect
suited to the needs and tastes of the public and visitors of
that town.

Fences, cattle-guards, highway crossings and sign boards
are generally in good condition.



Line of Road, — From White River Junction north to Ver-
mont and Province line, a distance of 110.30 miles, with
23.35 miles of sidings.

The rails are steel, 56 pounds and 60 pounds weight. Guage,

nUtory, — This corporation was chartered October 27, 1843,
but the road was not completed and in operation throughout
its entire length until October 14, 1863.

It leased the Massawippi Valley Railway, extending from
Vermont and Province line to Lennoxville, P. Q., a distance

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of 34. 75 miles, — with a branch line running to Stanstead,
P. Q., and Derby Line, Vt., 2 miles, — for 99 years from July
1, 1870, thereby making a connection at said point with the
Grand Trunk Railway. It also now connects at Lennoxville
with the Quebec Central and Canadian Pacific Railway lines.
The total number of miles operated by this road since the
lease of the Massawippi Valley Railway has been 147.05.

The line was leased to the Boston and Lowell Railroad
Company for the term of 99 years from January 1, 1887, and,
when the lines of that company were leased to the Boston and
Maine Railroad for 99 years, from April 1, 1887, it came
under the control and management of the latter corporation,
which still continues to operate it.

Infection, 1889, — Made June 24 and 25, by Commission-
ers Pingree and Fletcher, and Clerk Watson, accompanied
by Prof. H. A. Hitchcock.

At the time of this inspection it was noticeable that
much work had been done for the improvement of the per-
manent way, but more especially the road-bed, and this was
still progressing. There had been a re-adjustment of the sur-
face of the track along the line since the previous inspection,
and the line had been straightened in a number of places
where there were bad curves of considerable length. The
original wall abutments of considerably many bridges and
openings had been and were being replaced by those of solid
masonry of lasting character, having wing walls of good width.
The latter feature will admit of the widening of the ap-
proaches of bridges having the same, as has already been done
in some cases, thereby making a commendable improvement
which is recommended, and especially where the bridges are
approached upon curves.

The road-bed altogether is in good condition. It is kept
well ballasted and worked, has good shoulders, and is gener-
ally well ditched. Grass, weeds and bushes had not been cut
along the line at the time of the inspection, but it was noticed
that attention was given to this matter later in the season.

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The track was found to be in good alignment and surface. It
is steel, mostly of 56 pounds weight; 15 miles of 60-pounds
steel have been laid since 1887, and this is being gradually
increased. Seven miles of Scranton steel of this weight were
distributed along the line to be laid, at the time of inspection.

The fencing along the road- way is mostly well maintained,
but needs renewal in a few places.

Cattle-guards were wanting at some points, but a large num-
ber of the bevelled-slat style were being built to be placed
along the road.

The superstructure of this line had not received so much
attention as the road-bed, and yet it was by no means
neglected. The bridges are quite numerous, and although all
are probably sufficient for the time being, some are rather
light for the increasing heavy traffic on this road, and will
doubtless be replaced by heavier ones at an early day ; all
have careful oversight and have been strengthened where
necessary. A new, substantial, double-pinned lattice bridge
has been built at East Bamet within the past year.

The Abbott deck bridge in Barton is conspicuously ready
for displacement; and if, as the management somewhat con-
templates, a large masonry arch is put in here with earth fill-
ing over it, it will make a decided improvement. This
bridge is high and dangerously located, and the approach at
the north end is bad.

The passenger depots along the line generally are well kept,
fairly well furnished, and meet the requirements of the pub-
lic. Those at Norwich and Ilanover, Ely, Fairlee, South
Newbury, St. Johnsbury Centre and West Burke, have been
renovated and somewhat improved. A first-class, new one, of
modem design and appointments, has been built at Wells
River within the past year, in accordance with the recommen-
dation of the Board. It is located farther north than the old
one, and is more convenient for the passengers of all trains.

The depots at Bradford and Barton are hardly respectable

Online LibraryVermont. Railroad CommissionerBiennial report of the Railroad Commissioner of the State of Vermont → online text (page 3 of 49)