The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897

By Fred A. Shannon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Southern Crops and Special Problems

TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES IN 1861

IN transportation facilities, during the greater part of the period from 1860 to 1900, the South was less at a disadvantage as compared with other sections than it was in some other things. For that matter, even in 1860 the slave states were better equipped than is sometimes realized. Too much is made of the fact that the seceding states had only 9,000 miles of railroads out of 30,626 in the entire country. Indeed, this was a fair amount in proportion to population. But it must be remembered that all except about 2,000 of the national mileage was east of the Mississippi River. Missouri, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas were only making beginnings, California and Arkansas had hardly started, and for the rest of the trans- Mississippi West there was not a mile listed in the Census of 1860. Inasmuch, then, as a comparison is made of railroad transportation according to needs, it must be confined to the states east of the Mississippi River. On this basis the seceding states (not counting West Virginia) had 7,969 miles out of a total of 28,451, or 28 per cent. But the same group had just about 7,000,000 people out of a total of 26,900,000, or 26 per cent. On the population-mileage basis, then, the South was slightly ahead of the North. If all the border slave states be included in the South, the ratio would favor the North a little, for the border group was not as well supplied as the cotton belt.

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