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The Story of the Railroad," D. Appleton & Co., New York. 
Snow on the Headligrht,*' D. Appliton & Co., New York. 
Tales of an Engineer," Scribner's, New York. 

_ ,. f Scribner's, New York. 

The Express Messenger, (chatto & Windus, London. 

The White Mail," ScRiBNBR's, New York. 
Short Rails," Scribner's, New York. 
Frontier Stories," Scribner's, New York. 


White Elephant 

Cy Warman 

Author ol "tht Story of tho RaUroad." "TIm Whit* Midi,'' Bte. 

Vabllahca by the 
Canada Pnblisliiiig Compaay 

Xoiitreal, Canada 

(Copjtlihttd int hj Cr Wumu) 




The purpose of this pamphlet is merely to give the views 
of one who has studied th : important question of Govern- 
ment ownership or operation of railways. 

I contend, not as a lawyer who is paid for his opinions, 
but because I believe what I say, that the operation of our 
railways by the Federal Government would be disastrous 
alike to the railroad and the country. 

American railways are well managed, deliver the goods 
cheaper and pay better wages than do the railways of any 
other country on earth. 

Private railways are a success. Government railways are 
a failure. 

A Pullman Palace is a place (tf rest. A " PriVlste " car is 
a workshop on wheels. 

Private railways kill a few people. Government railways 
kill a nation. 

Push, on a private line, may put you in a Private car. 
On a Government road it takes Pull. 

Somewhere there is a country with a Government road 
whose Government would give thanks if a tug were to tie 
on to the line some dark night and drag it into the deep. 

I believe that in nine cases in every ten, where a country 
is burdened with a Government railway that country would 
like very much to lob the road. 

I believe the people should study this question from every 


side, that private linet ihould be compelled by law, where 
competition fiuii to do lo, to treat the moving and thipiMBg 
public decently. 

The average big shipper regards himself as a gentleman 
at all times, a. traffic manager as such only when off daty. 

In his office he stands for the " soulless corporation " with 
no rights the shipper feels called upon to respect. 

The attempt of the demagogue to set the public against 
the railway and railway employees againit railway officials 
is damnable. 

In America you may ride three days without changing 
cars. Between Dresden and Karlsbad they rifle your trunk 
three times in four hours. 

The large system, the consolidation <^ a number of small 
linet, tends to cheapen the cost of transportation and makes 
for wise, economical management 

The private railway is a great field for bright, amUtious 
young men. A Government road is a haven of rut for 
nephews and second sons. 

Presidents of ^railways are well paid, work hard and 
die solvent. Honest politicians die in poverty, others in 



Now th' thrack lays clear an' tunny an' m- life is 'asy 

An' th' Virgin sinds me iver-ry'thin' I pray forr ; 
Yet there's no wild bir-rd that fills me wud his melody, 

ur thrills me, 
Like th' music uv th' whishtle ahn th' Pay-Caare. 

Shure we have no cause to worry, an' we have no time 
to hurry, 

Forr iver-ry day's a Hollyday, a Hayday ; 

An' if, betimes, I'm lonely I can light me pipe ; I only 
Do be waitin' her-re forr Sundown an' forr Payday. 

There's a broken rail near Lc^an's, an' an tngin off be 

Sure these be things th' Minishter grows gray forr. 
While I sit where its shady, waitin' forr Sundown an' 


An' th' music uv th' whishtle ahn th' Pay-Carre. 




|HE Hon. Fred. Peters was Premier 
of thi sea-girt Province of Prince 
Edward Island for ten long years, 
and when he tired he passed the 

"Crown" to his brother. 
Fred is a Canadian by birth, a 
gentleman by nature, and a politician 
by force of circumstances. 

Also, he is a good "Grit," if such a thing may be, 
which I very much doubt after reading the opposition 
papers for seven years, knows to half a hair's breadth 
the exact elevation at which one should take an English 
black cock on the wing or a Scotch high-ball on the 

Among the assets of the island when the versatile 
Premier took charge he found a government railway 
measuring 400 miles on an eighty -ile island. He 
found, also, that at the moment of ' ifederation — an 
unguarded moment — the cos of the ..ilway had been 
charged to the Province. The saddest part of it all 
was that a Cons—vative "g - vernment at Ottawa was 
running the line ai. ' lat the Premier of Prince i^^ward 
Ifland, being a Liberal, was a sweet bell out of tune. 

By-and-by election day came round, and to the 
amazement and chagrin of the good Grit Premier, the 
Conservative government officials ran all the Liberal 
employees out on specials or work-trains. To be sure 
there were not many Grits on the road by this time, but 
they were needed, and needed badly. 

In spite of this, however, the Grits held the island, 
and when the local House of Parliament met, Mr. 
Peters, the Premier, brought down a bill disfranchising 
all officials and employees of the government railway. 
Despite the flow and overflow of righteous wrath from 



the Conservative tenches, it came to pass, and was 
woven into the scheme of things, that car-hands 
employed on the Government railway were barred from 
the polls. 

By the time the faithful were called upon again to 
fall in and vote there were, of a truth, more Grits than 
Conservatives on the line, but they were not allowed 
to vote-not yet. Whether this Grit majority was 
brought about by religiously employing a Liberal when 
a Conservative was killed, or whether it came about 
through the reformation of the latter, the ex-Premier's 
friend failed to inform me, but it came about and it 
worked ultimately to the great advantage of the local 
Government. Indeed it stands out as about the only 
mstance, so far as my observations reach, when a 
Government railway was really a good thing. Try as 
they would, the Dominion Government was utterly 
powerless to cope with the local politicians, and the 
Grits in the Island Province held on. 

Now it came to pass, in the general upheaval of 1896, 
that the Liberals landed heavily on the National Con- 
servative body— it stiffened, stared stonily up at the 
silent, pitiless sky and succumbed. The election judges 
counted it out. 

Premier Peters of Prince Edward Island consulted 
himself and concluded that he was suffering from in- 
grown conscience. He could not, try as he would, 
forget the arguments of the local Conservatives who 
fought hard, and to the last ditch, against the dis- 
franchisement of the railway employees. "The burden 
of taxation" (the white man's burden) they contended, 
carried with it the right to vote. Like the foreign 
missionary and the merchant from the same country 
they should go hand in hand, and the more Premier 
Peters pondered over this and the large Liberal majority 
reached on the pay-roll of the road, the more was he 



convinced that Government railway employees were, 
and of a right ought to be free, and he brought down a 
bill to that effect. 

When speaking to the bill, and indirectly to the 
Opposition, the Premier could scarce control his emo- 
tions, so overjoyed was he to find himself in full accord 
with the Conservative side of the tent. He even went 
so far as to apologize for his stupidity in failing to see 
the wisdom of their argument at the time of the pass- 
age of this mischievous measure. Late, tho' it might 
seem to some, he was now ready to make amends, and 
he launched his little bill to repeal the bad law disfran- 
chising the employees of the Government Railway. 

Now, to the amazement of the politically virtuous 
Premier, he found that the Conservatives had also 
changed their minds. They hissed and stormed and 
stamped their feet, but the bill went through Parlia- 
ment like a cat-boat through a cataract and in due 
course became a law. 

When next election morning dawned all the Conser- 
vative employees found themselves marked up for the 
road. Only a few Grits went out. Just enough to 
mix things and see that none of the trains, regular or 
irregular, got back before the polls closed. And that 
is the way the Blue-nosed Brotherhood of Political 
Dissemblers worked the Baby Elephant down by the 
sobbing sea. When the employees voted wrong they 
took away their franchise, when they reformed they 
gave it back. And that's how it happened that the 
Honourable Fred Peters was Premier of the sea-girt 
Province of Prince Edward Island for ten long years. 


HEREVER I have pushed my inves- 
tigation of the question involving 
government ownership or operation 
of railways, I have found in the 
fore-grcund this fact: The people 
of a country afflicted with a Govern- 
ment road are not sensitive about 
the matter, while the people of a country where the 
unhappy are -ioning after that sort of thing, especially 
those persons who, for various reasons, favor the 
change, are sensitive to the point of insolence. If you 
fail to agree with the agitator, you have been bribed 
to believe what you write. But where they know the 
joke they only smile, and the more Ihef know about it 
the more they smile. 

Among the delegates to the International Railway 
Congress held in Washington, D.C., in May, 1905, 
were many men who had had experience with the 
White Elephant, but not one, so far as I am aware 
showed the slightest enthusiasm in the matter. Mr 
P.ckenng, Comptroller of Accounts of South Australian 
Railways, declared: "Politics play havoc with the eco- 
nomicaladmmistration of government-owned railways." 

In Australia, where they have the benefit of a man- 
ager used to the American methods, a former official of 
the Canadian Pacific, they are not happy. One of the 
delegates said : 

"The government is willing to allbw companies to 
build new lines, and there is a standing offer of a big 
land grant to any company which will connect North 
and South Australia by building 2,000 miles of road." 

Some ten years ago the writer of this sketch was 
commissioned by a New York Magazine to visit Europe 
Asia and Egypt, to ride on, and write about the raili 
ways of other countries. With the aid of our Embassies 



and letters from American managers he was able to 
secure a front seat, to "Mount and Circulate," as the 
French /r^g passes read, anywhere from the locomotive 
to the tail-lights, but he did not regard these favors as 
a bribe. He painted the thing as he saw it. The 
French lines, with their state help and hinderance, were 
handled roughly, but when his book was published a 
high officer in the employ of the Chemin de Fer Du Nord 
wrote the author to say that the article, "with the 
exception of a few petit details " was the truest, the 
most comprehensive account of the situation that had 
ever been published. 

This is significant and shows that the more men know 
of the evil influence of Government interference with 
railways, the more tolerant they are when the railroad 
is being criticized. 

I find, too, that the railway is efficient, or otherwise 
just about in proportion to the amount of meddling with 
its management by the State. 

At Smyrna I found an English line with a Scotch 
manager making its own cars and employing Native 
labor, which had become skilled in the shops of this 
private company. The officials were smart, alert, 
affable ; anxious to answer questions, proud to show a 
stranger about. The premises were neat and clean. 

The Jafa and Jerusalem, a French line with a Turkish 
flavor, was the reverse of all this. An adequate 
description of one of its terminal stations would be 
absolutely unprintable. To be sure the Government 
had but one finger in the pie here, but that was enough 
to spoil it. The road was demoralized, like an army in 
retreat, and untidy as a Coxie Company on parade. 
To a man really interested in railroads it was a pathetic 
joke. It reminded me, in some respects, of one of the 
alleged " Railway " plays seen in our theatres. 

The play-acting was never more apparent than when 


the General Manager, who happened to be going up to 

old Jerusalem the day I went up, stepped from his little 
hatbox of a compartment, smiled and opened his arms 
to welcome the Che/ tie Gare, the stationmaster, who 
came prancing down the platform, wearing a red fez 
and a rose, and picking his way through the filth like a 
chicken in a muddy lot. I wanted to shout to him, 
H ;y, Revolutionist, drop that boky and grab abroom," 
but at that moment I saw the G. M. with his flower 
and fez, advancing. A collision was inevitable, and I 
stood by and saw them come together. There was a 
soft " pudd," a gentle hug, the G. M. kissed the S. M. 
first on the left then on the right cheek, after which 
they walked arm in arm down the dirty platform. It 
W8' extremely funny, to a man who had no interest, 
financial or otherwise, in that particular railway. The 
hopes, aims and aspirations of the men and managers 
of such a line reach up to, and touch but two towns — 
Sundown and Payday. 

Any man who has knocked about knows that this 

picture is true to life. Here, in Canada, where they 
have tried it and can look upon the dog, dying by 
inches, they will not resent it, but below the line the 
demagog, measuring others by his own standard, will 
say this article was "inspired" by the railways. 

This, the falsity of which can easily be proven, is not so 
much to be damned as is the studied effort upon the 
part of the enemies of the American railroad to array 
every man who has an idea and the courage to express 
it upon the side of the officials, against railway em- 
ployees, and so to open a gulf between the management 
and the men. 

No man, save the editors of magazines, ever asked 
me or employed me to write upon this subject. I write 
because I believe I can, and because I enjoy the novelty 


of telling the truth about the American Railway. It 
ought to be refreshing and vary the monotony. 

But if any American cares to verify what I have said 
and see a Government railway in action, he can h; 
his curiosity gratified on this continent. The Canadian 
Line is marking time up in the Land of Evangeline, 
with the usual amount of stumbling stupidity. 

One day an officer was apologizing for the ragged 
appearence of the road when his guest asked if any- 
body ever got the Grand Gaff. " O, yes," said the 
official, " I fire • a locomotive superintendent once and 
the next day found him signing himself superintendent 
of bridges." 

" How did he get back?" 

"I believe", said the railway man, wearily as the 
engine whistled for Sundown, "He had some pull with 
the Member for Pewee Junction". 

It would really be a good idea for Uncle Sam to send 
a Congressional Committee up here to see for them- 

Granting thai there are eviis that ougnt to be reme- 
died the law-makers should inform them =elves. As it 
is Congress and the country gc^ but one side of the 
story. The people, who will be call<*d upon to take care 
of the "deficit" when Uncle Sam goes railroading, 
have a right to know the Elephant in which they are 
asked to invest their money. And how are we to come 
at the truth if no man has the moral courage to tell 
the truth ? 

Let us glance at Canada and her White Elephant. 
If ever a Government railway had a show for its life, 
the Intercolonial of Canada has. It has been tried by 
both brands of the political family and each in turn has 
failed utterly to work the Elephant profitably. One 
Minister of R: ilways is rated an expert ; moreover he 
favors Government ownership. 




Those who oppose, under all climes and conditions, 
the operation of railways by the State will charge this 
to a want of honest effort and earnest endeavor, but the 
men who have been in charge of the Elephant here 
have been for the most part, men whose honesty has 
not been questioned. They have tried, as an able- 
bodied policeman might try to play golf, and have 
failed, as he might fail, for the same reason — they did 
not know the game. 

And when you take into account the fact that a 
government line enjoys favours that other railways do 
not enjoy, and often at the expense of the independent 
lines, the utter absurdity of the Government Ownership 
of Railways seems, to an impartial non-political man in 
the street, so manifest that even a socialist ought to 
acknowledge the folly of it all. 

The Intercolonial Railway cost Canada $70,000,000, 
in the first place, and it has had some $2,000,000 worth 
of hay since. The people have never had a penny in 
the way of interest on the capital invested, and the 
country has been helped very little by the construction 
of the line. The people lose money on every pound of 
freight the Elephant moves, and the more it moves the 
more they lose. 

As often as an independent company comes before 
parliament with a proposition to build a railway into 
some undeveloped part of this vast, empty Empire, the 
first Act of the Government is to consult the Elephant. 
How will it affect the Intercolonial ? And when public 
opinion forces the government to legislate to relieve the 
people who are clamoring for more and better trans- 
portation facilities, the original bill will come out of the 
arena so disfigured by amendments, riders, and sub- 
stitutes, that its own father would fail to reconize it as 
the original bill. 


Here is an example : 

The Grand Trunk Railway bought a controlling in- 
terest in the Canada Atlantic, which would give them 
almost an air-line to the great lakes from Montreal via 
Ottawa. In passing the necessary legislation to enable 
the new owners to take possession of the property, 
Parliament saved running rights over all the acquired 
property, and a part of the Grand Trunk proper, as 
well as any extension or addition that may hereafter be 
built. To read it all through you would say the 
Elephant would profit immensely by this new arrange- 
ment, but when it is working is it probable that the 
Grand Trunk is going to turn over its business to a 
competitor ? The whole scheme is wrong. The people 
are simply feeding the Ek, hant that eats its head off 
annually and earns nothing. One paragraph of the 
bill reads : 

2. Such running powers shall consist of the right, in 
perpetuity of such period or periods from time to time 
as the Governor-in-Council may determine, with the 
engines of any such government railway, to run alone 
or with trains, passenger, freight, or mixed, as fre- 
quently, and at such times as the minister may see fit, 
each way daily or otherwise, over the said lines or 
tracks and shall include the right from tir e to time as 
the minister may deem desirable, to use any or all of 
the terminals, buildings, stations, tracks, sidings, fix- 
tures or appurtenances in connection with or appertaning 
to or forming part of said railways, lines, or tracks, to 
which running powers extend, as aforesaid, as the same 
may now exist, or as they or any of them may be here- 
after extended, constructed, or re-constructed, and any 
terminals, buildings, stations, sidings, fixtures, or 
appurtenances in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, 
which may now or hereafter be owned, leased or used 
in connection with the said ra''wflyc -.-•''''b said run- 
nir' f powers extend, or hv (loverment ra..vvay. 

; . "In exercising any such running powers, the 
mil istr.-r shall have the power to do a through freight 
and passentrer business." 



Because an independent line, having in the beginning- 
some Government assistance, prospers, certain discon- 
solate souls say: "The people built the road." The 
fact is the railroad has prospered because of wise, 
economical management, and the fact that freight is 
carried on this continent at a lower rate than elsewhere 
in the world, proves that there is close, keen compe- 

I have heard men say: " Canada made the Canadian 
Pacific." My notion is that just the reverse of that is 
true: the Canadian Pacific made Canada, that is, if you 
are disposed to count Canada finished at the birth of 
this century. Perhaps the dertermination of the present 
government to give no more land subsidies is wise, and 
yet if the Conservative government had not given the 
Canadian Pacific 25,000,000 acres of land the west 
might have remained the wilderness that it was. 

The average citizen takes a narrow one-sided view 
of this matter of land subsidies to railways. The 
popular impression is that if a road receives an acre of 
land from the government and sells it, often years after, 
tor five dollars, that the transaction represents a net 
profit of five hundred cents, whereas a careful investiga- 
tion of the history of some of the large land grants 
shows that from $2 to $2.50 have been spent in direct 
advertising, another dollar in indirect advertising, such 
as taking Missourians out and showing them, and say 
50 cents more to make up the difference between a 
profitable and an unprofitable rate on homeseekers. In 
short, they spend, and expect to spend, almost the en- 
tire revenue derived from the sale of lands in peopling 
the Empire. After all what is a few hundreds or a few 
thousands to a railroad when compared to a home- 
steader or new settler along the line ? 

The first aim is to settle the country, and in many 
cases the entire price of the land has gone in that work. 



The Canadian Pacific are still spending a quarter of 

a million a year advertising their Western lands. And 
they spend money in other ways to the same end. For 
instance, the rate for immigrants, New York to St. 
Paul, is $26.50; from Halifax to Winnipeg the rate is 
$17.00. Why? Because the American lines who make 
the rate have no lands and no direct interest in peopling 
the West. They make the rate as low as it can be 
made profitably. The Canadian lines have lands, there- 
fore they are willing to carry the people to the promised 
land at a loss. Here again, in speaking of the immi- 
grant business, we are reminded that the Elephant 
carried about 2,000 of the 22,000 immigrants that have 
come up from the sea so far this year. When the 
Grand Trunk Pacific and the Canadian Northern are 
connected with the Atlantic at Halifax and St. Johns, 
the Government line will have a hard time holding the 
train crew. 

Lately the provincial Government of Manitoba has 

been selling land to the Canadian Northern Rail- 
way. These lands are valuable to be sure, valuable 
because the railways built, building, and being surveyed 
have m ide them so. The Canadian Northern will 
settle its country. The Grand Trunk Pacific, while it 
receives no lands from the Dominion Government, got 
some help in the way of guaranteed bonds, but it, too, 
will open and make valuable vast fields, and in the end 
it will cost the country nothing. 

And where it does receive Provincial lands it will not 
only settle this narrow strip of territory but open up a 
vast region hitherto unoccupied and so help to make 
homes for the homeless and settle the silent places. 

Railways ask for land not to exploit for revenue, but 
to be used for colonization purposes. I understand the 
Grand Trunk Pacific Company had a proposition before 
the Provincial Government of British Columbia for u 


grant, the company agreeing^ to sell this land at Govern* 

ment rates to settlers. Ii. all probability they would 
spend more than the price of the land advertising the 
country and showing " people, but they would in the 
end, people their district, and do it much quicker than 
the Government can do it, and so help to make a 
nation of this " far-flung " colony. 

This proposition the Provincial Government rejected, 
and probably for no better reason than that the principle 

of land grants to railways is unpopular. Thus do 
"constituencies " make cowards of us all. 

Twenty-five million acres seems a lot of land until 
you have seen the Canadian West. One can form no 
idea of the utter worthlessness of these lands before the 
advent of the railway. I stopped one day at a little 
hotel in the Saskatchewan Valley. " I know that half- 
breed driver of yours " said the hotel man. " He has 
a relative in Parliament. His Uncle was a bishop. A 
few years a^o my father was commissioned by the 
courts to dl. -ose of 30,000 acres of land that belonged 
to ihis boy, but he had to get $15,000 for it and that 
was impossible at that time." Fifty cents an acre ; but 
nobody wanted it at any price. Land was as cheap as 
dirt. People were walking in those days. The half-breed 
probably traded it for a white stetson or a buckskin 
suit, beaded, and with saw-teeth on the salvage. 

But things have changed. The railroads have made 
these lands worth five to twenty-five dollars an acre, 
simply by settling up the country. 

Consider for a moment what the railways have done 
for the developement of America, in a single generation. 
Gen. G. M. Dodge, the principle Pathfinder, and "Jack" 
Casement, the principle builder of the Union Pacific, 
are still with us, while the pioneer Pacific route is grow- 
ing, until to-day it is probably the greatest "Line" if we 


consider only the myriads of whirling wheels, under the 

The Imperial West of to-day would still be a sleep- 
ing wilderness were it not for the great civilizer — the 
railroad. Could the State have accomplished this in 
fifty years ? No, not in a hundred. 

The large land companies do a good work in this 
way too. One company some two years ago secured a 
million acres in one district north of Regina on the 
South Saskatchewan. The Canadian Minister of the 
Interior who contributed a quarter of a million acres 
was severely criticized, first, for allowing the Ian J com- 
pany to settle such a poor district, and later for having 
sold such rich land so cheap. 

The first thing the Colonization Company did was to 
spend between $30,000 and $25,000 on a single excur- 
sion into the "Bad Lands." 

I saw the country two years later, when the silent 
waste was dotted with farms, the fields filled with 
stacks and stooks, and steam plows stealing away over 
the prairies fading on the horizon. This land that cost 
the company less than $2.00 sold as higfh as $5.00, but 
something like from $1.50 to $2.00 per acre must have 
gone for advertising of various kinds — to keep up free 
hotels and livery stables in the district. 

But they people the plain 

A majority of the millions of acres of land sold by the 
Canadian Pacific people has been sold at about $3.00 
an acre but they have practically spent the whole of this 
amount, directly or indirectly as near as I can come to 

What was not expended for administration, immigra- 
tion, advertising, etc., bas been devoted to paying off 
bonds and for developing purposes in their efforts to 
make a nation. 


1^— — — 

The more I study the situation here, the more I am 
convinced that Canada should forget any pipe dream 
she may have suflered of a vast system of Government 
Railway, and help a'l honest, deserving, independent 
companies to lengthen their lines, even to the extent of 
granting lands, and when they have two or thr*", 'nde- 
pendent, transcontinental roads there will be competi- 
tion, and the railways and their employees will be 
bound to do their best to oblige the moving public. 

When this happy condition has been reached, ail that 
remains to be done is the Oslerization of the Elephant, 
and Canada will become a great and prosperous 

Note: — The only persons who profit by the Intercolonial are 
a few >ihippers who, through political pressure secure 
unremunerative rates, the balance of the country pay the differ- 
ence i.i the shape of an a <nual deficit. 

Note: — The latest report of the Minister of Railways shows 
that the Intercolonial will cost Canada nearly two million dollars 
more than it earns this year. 


|N th" general rush during a Russian 
riot hundreds, if not thouunds, of in- 
nocent people are injured. In the 
popular uprising against trusts, many 
deserving industries suffer because they 
are "trusts." Just now it is the fashion 
to fire on the railroad — no matter whose 
road it is, where it is going or where it ends. The leaders 
in this crusade are the advocates of state ownership, aided 
by those interested, directly or indirectly, in some alleged 
safety appliance. These latter crusaders work, for the most 
part, in the dark, as the idle non-union, non-working mob 
incites to riot an army of strikers. 

Then again the cause is helped along by writers who 
are seeking the sensational in literature, and certain govern- 
ment officials whose business it is to rf '>>rt upon railway 
accidents, and these, too, consciously or unconsciously, help 
to swell the cry. The daily press, catering to a clientele 
trained to expect something tragic or exciting at least once 
a day, parade, usually at the top of the column next to pure 
reading-matter, the annual, semi-annual and quarterly re- 
ports of the Interstate Commerce Commission, which give 
only the bare, bald, grand totals of the "killed." 

It ought to be obvious to any sane person that the 
Interstate Commerce Commission can never be effective, or 
Ije of any real benefit to the public who pay for it, until it 
can be made to work harmoniously with the railways. At 
present the General Managers' Association, the foremost 
railway association in America, and the commission are out 
of tune. 

The reports sent out by the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission are so notoriously misleading, to put it mildly, and 



SO universally unfair to the railways, that no man, unpre- 
judiced, can fail to arrive at the conclusion that tliere is a 
studied effort upon the part of the literary end of the com- 
mission to make out a case against the railways, if it can be 
done with figures. The reports of the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission have done more to inflame the public 
mind and to damn the American railway, at home and 
abroad, than all other agencies combined. And it is not 
so much what they print but what they fail to give out, 
that hims. For instance : "Increase in number of pas- 
sengers killed annually, in sixteen years— per cent. 32." 

That ma be perfectly correct, but it would be only fair 
to add, for the information of the president of the United 
States and the general public's peace of mind : "Increase 
in number of passengers carried one mile, same period — 
per cent. 93." Every honest, patriotic American, proud of 
his country and its institutions, would be gratified to read 
that the number of fatalities had not increased relatively to 
the number of passengers carried. 

In the matter of employees killed, if the truth, the whole 
truth, and nothing but the truth, were told, the railways 
could be congratulated again, for, while the increase in fif- 
teen years in the number of employees killed has been 62 
per cent., the increase in the number of men employed has 
been 86 percent., while the increase in the number of tons 
moved (which also increases the danger) was 152 i)er cent. 

Take the following figures, for example. They represent 
the first and last report of the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission : 

Here it would only be fair to say something about these 
"other persons." Who are they? They are trespassers, 
for the most part; sleighing parties and tallyhoers who 

Killed in Railway Accidents 

Passengers .... 
Employees .... 
Other persons 

1888 1904 

315 420 

2.070 3.367 

a.897 5.879 



drive upon the track in front of the Limited; absent- 
minded beggars who sit on the end of a tie to smoke, bums 
who are beating their way, deaf people who walk on the 
track, and suicides. But who ever saw an explanation of 
that sort tacked to the tail of a rieport ? I saw one, but it 
was from an English commission, or rather a chief inspector. 
He said, in conclusion, as if he would not excite the travel- 
ing public unnecessarily, that it should be borne in mind, in 
reading the figures, that more than 50 per cent, of the 
people killed had no business upon the railway or its 

A report, sucli as suggested above, showing the increase 
in the number of people exposed as well as the increase in 
the number killed, might properly include some such 
general statement as this : 

" We find that the average number of passengers killed 
annually for the five years ending with 1893 to have been 
i35>w*i'lefrom 1900 to 1 904, inclusive, the number averaged 
159, or an increase of 17 per cent. However, despite this 
increase, the railways and the country are to be congratulated, 
for the average passenger mileage increased, during the same 
period, 53 per c«it." 

It is not too much to suppose that if the Interstate 
Commerce Commission had followed the practice of send- 
ing out full, fair, honest, and impartial reports, the presi- 
dent, instead of referring to the increasing casualty list 
upon our railways, might have said something like this, only 
he would say it better than I can : 

" While it is a fact that the number of fatalities upon our 
railroads have not increased proportionately with the volume 
of business moved, the increase in mileage, the speed of our 
trains, and the comfort of our cars, the casualty list is, 
nevertheless, a long one, and nothing should be left undone 
that will tend to its curtailment, and it is to be hoped that 
the Interstate Commerce Commission will continue to work, 
as it has in the past, harmoniously with the railways to that 

Alas, the Commission have not been in the habit of 
telling the whole truth, and so the president, alert, fair, and 


honest as he is, was misled and said only half what he 
should have said and did an injustice to something like two 
million men and women who are equal, in human ten- 
derness, intelligence, honesty and industry, to any other 
two million of working men and women in America. 


Perhaps .\e have been generalizing too much. We shall 
specify. In the course of a recent magazine article, the 
secretary of the Commission makes this inexcusable state- 
ment : 

" There are 67 collisions and one derailment noted in 
these bulletins, resulting in 270 deaths and 734 injuries to 
passengers and employees, which might have been avoided 
had the block signal system been in use . " 

The next sentence runs something like 48 per cent, of a 
whole truth, viz. : 

" Twenty collisions, resulting in 70 deaths and 391 in- 
juries to passengers and employees, occurred where the 
block system was in use." 

Now, his own bulletins showed that 35 of these collisions 
occurred under the block system, while a careful inquiry 
reveals the fact that the actual number was 44, instead of 
20, killing 106 people instead of only 70. It is also inter- 
esting to note that during the period covered by the report 
from which the secretary was quoting, only 11 per cent, of 
American railways we-e working under the block signal 
system. Practical railroad n;en are agreed that the block 
system falls far short of eliminating the railway accident. 
Close observers, men who make it their business to study 
these things and their effect upon the men who man the 
engines and others who give signals to these brave, faithful, 
semi-public servants, are aware that the moment you put a 
safety machine in the shop there is a disposition to lay 
everything to the machine. The moment you relieve a 
trainman of the responsibility he has been educated to 
carry, that moment he begins — without realizing it, perhaps. 


— to grow careless. It may be accepted, as a general pro- 
position, that the block system and other safety appliances 
tend to reduce the danger, but from the sum of this you 
must deduct what is lost through negligence on the part of 
the individual . You remember that Jersey wreck of some 
years ago. There was a complete block system in perfect 
working order, and yet the driver, for some unaccountable 
reason, drove through the blocks, past green lights, red 
lights, swmging signal lights and on to destruction. 

A favotitc pastime of the critics of American railways 
is to compare them, to their disadvantage, with English 
lines, and yet, auy comparison between American meth- 
ods and the English system will be to our advantage seven 
times in ten. If an Englishman who knows nothing 
whatever about railway management, at home or abroad, 
comes over here and criticizes American railways, his re- 
marks will be published from one end of the country to 
the other. A few years ago one of the North Pole hunt- 
ers, whose American lecture tour was a frost, went over 
to London, yawned and remarked *'iat he was tired. 
" Travehng, you know," said he, " is nut at all comfortable 
in America." 

However, there was published in London las. year the 
official report of Mr. Neville Priestley, under secretary to 
the government of India railway department, who was 
sent over here to see our railways. It is a pity those who 
are so unhappy because of the bad management of our 
roads do not buy and read this expert's report Mr. 
Priestley says of American railroads : 

" The railways of America are commercial undertakings 
on a gigantic scale, and are oi)erated under conditions which 
are to be found nowhere else in the world, since they receive 
no protection from the state, and have had to fight their way 
to the front by sheer ability of management. If T have 
appeared enthusiastic at times, it is because I was greatly 
impressed by the courage with which the railroad officers 
have faced their difficulties and the pluck with which they 



have overcome them. American railway men are quick to 
see a new idea ; they are quicker still to try it ; they take a 
great pride in their profession, and are all striving to get at 
the science of it. That their methods are not always perfect 
is what might have been expected ; but they have managed 
to do what no other country in the world has done, and 
that is, carry their goods traffic profitably at extraordinarily 
low rates, notwithstanding the fact that they pay more for 
their labor than any other country." 

Many of Mr. Priestley's conclusions are interesting- 
some of his stitements are startling. Like these : 

" Railway rates for goods traffic, judged as a whole, ^re 
lower in America than in any other country in the woriri, 
India not excepted. The present i)rosperity of the United 
States of America is to no small extent due to the low rates 
charged for transportation." 


From the editorial page of a New York paper which 
refers to its neighbors as "yellow," I pluck this paragraph : 
"Why are passengers treated with less consideration than 
is shown to cattle on the way to the slaughter-house ? " 
And from Mr. Priestley's report this : While the closest 
check is exercised over passenger trains, goods trains seem 
to be no one's special care." Again he writes : "Safety is 
the thought uppermost in the mind of every employee. The 
sense of individual responsibility, the strong esprit de corps, 
the spirit of emulation, careful supervision, the judgment 
of every employee by results, a Judgment which is not lax 
or wanting in severity, are all factors which help to minimize 
the risks which are taken." 

To illustrate the breadth of his view here are some of 
his observations : 

" Under the process of amalgamation better service has 
been given to passengers by the introduction of through 
trains ; and the reproach can no longer lie against them 
that they are indifferent to the safety or interest of their 
customers, the people The confidence placed in the good 
faith of the men engaged in railroad operation is very great ; 
and the mutual trust is still greater. Each man does his 
very best unrestrained. The American Railway Association 


is a great power for good in the American railway world, 
and has been of great assistance to the government on 
more occasions than one." 

The chief factor in the cheapening of tran5[)ortation on 
American lines has been the big fifty-ton steel car, with 
correspondingly large locomotives. American managers 
have demonstrated that even the old-style engines could 
haul 300 tons more in a train of modern cars than they 
could handle in the former long trains of light cars. To 
make the line physically fit for this heavy load and tlie still 
heavier locomotive to draw it, one American railway has 
spent a million dollars a month for the past five years 
Another road has been spending, for a like purpose' 
$9,000,000 annually for the same period. In a word, the 
verdict of this English expert is that the American railway 
is, on the whole, admirably managed. 

The men who manage our railways have borne in silence 
the slings and slurs of their critics, not because there was 
no answer, but because they were too busy to reply to them 
and h -cause they hate newspaper notoriety. To buy and 
distribute in America a million copies of Mr. Priestley's 
report would be a good investment, only the men who wil- 
fully or willingly misrepresent the American railway would 
not read them. These do not care to be informed. But 
you, my dear reader, who are honest and patriotic, ought to 
remember, among other things, that for the sake of speed 
the American railway spends 64.66 per cent, of each dollar 
earned. It costs the British lines in India only 49^ cents 
to earn a dollar. The following table shows the comparative 
monthly wages paid to railroad men in the United States 
and India, where Mr. Priestley was familiar with the situa- 
tion : 

Firemen ... 

...$115 20 

Si 3.00 






Common labor with us costs $1.25 and in India 4 cents, 
sometiines as high as eight cents per day. An American 
laborer can ride nearly 3,000 miles first-class for a month's 
pay, while an Indian can go but 300 third class. Remem- 
ber, too, thai " the ever-increasing casualty list upon our 
railroads " is due, not to the indifference of officials, but 
to the still more rapidly increasing passenger mileage, to 
the increase in the number of persons exposed, and to the 
gait we are going. 


While no passengers were killed on the 22,000 miles 
of English rails in 1 901, it was not because there were no 
accidents. In that happy year passenger trains got to- 
gether 55 times, and suffered 65 derailments. Also there 
were 29 collisions with buffer-stops, and 476 persons were 
injured in train accidents. For the same year, upon 
44,000 miles of American line, moving seven and one-half 
million people, only nine lives were lost, which shows 
that we are also lucky — in spots. 

Almost every American who can read has read about the 
English railways, with 22,000 miles of road as against our 
200,000, upon which no one was killed in 1901, but not 
many of you know that the last British repor : shows t-u 
there were 156 passengers killed and 3,413 ' red; , - 
employees killed and 14,356 injured ; 589 .ler per 
killed and 788 injured during the year ending Decembe. , 
1903. The grand total of 1,242 killed and 18,577 injured 
you have not seen mentioned in any American magazine or 
newspaper, not even by the secretary of the interstate 
Commerce Commission, who api^ears to like long lists of 
" killed." 

In a single station in Boston 1,666 train movements are 
made from dawn to dawn. " This traffic," says our English 
critic, '' is handled without any confusion or delay, and, I 
may say, almost without an accident, practically in eighteen 
hours." An American locomotive shuts off st the sight of 


danger with one movement of a throttle-lever— quick as a 

pistol shot. An English driver closes his valves by grind- 
ing in a wheel like an old-fashioned hand-brake. I presume 
90 per cent, of our cars are equipped with quick-acting air- 
brakes, while a like percentage of English carriages still 
carry the slow-moving vacuum brake. An English driver 
drove his engine into the bumping posts in a station, in 
broad daylight, slaughtering sixteen persons. Our Westing- 
house air-brake would have saved these lives, even though 
the absent-minded beggar ran wild almost to the last rail- 
length, so light and easily held are the Englisli cars. 

Finally, when you read the long list of the dead, done in 
red ink by the secretary of the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission, cheer up ; it may not be true. 


Interstate Commerce Gommtssion, 
9Mce of tbe Seccetatv. 



March 23, 1905. 

Editor Public Opinion, 

New York City, New York. 

Dear Sir:— 

I have read Mr. Warman's article with some interest, 
though I am a little at a loss to understand the object of it, 
unless it may be to put a stop to the increasing adoption of 
the block signal system, and to prevent interference with 
the hours of labor and periods of rest which railroad men 
are subjected to. 

The personal attack upon me, coming from the quarter 
that it does, is very pleasant, because it shows that I have 
been doing .ny duty sufficiently to arouse antagonism. The 
facts concerning the operation of such legislation . , I am 
credited with being instrumental in securing are sufficient to 
form a complete answer to any criticism that has been 
directed against me from the interest that Mr. V/arman 
evidently speaks for, namely, the General Manager's 
Association of Chicago. I have ample evidence to prove 
that the increasing use of the safety appliances required by 
law has brought about a great increase in safety to railway 
employes, and the recent order of the Chicago & North- 
western Railway regarding regulation of the hours of labor 
of its employes is sufficient to show that the danger to the 
public from overworked employes is being recognized, 
which, coming from the quarter it does, is pretty good 


evidence that the matter, requires effective regulation in the 

interest of the public. 

Mr. Wartnan makes the common mistake of critics of his 
class : he forms hasty and ill-foanded conclusions and does 
not take the trouble to verify his figures ; his argument is 
built upon superficial and insufficient data, and he advances 
very erroneous judgments concerning both actions and 
motives. A great deal has been said by the interest which 
Mr. Warman represents about the difference in the factor of 
safety between British railways and our own. That is a 
question that has been raised entirely for the purpose of 
diverting the public mind and obscuring the real issue. 
The only question for the American public to consider is : 
" Are American railroads as safe as they reasonably should 
be ? " I do not believe they are, and I intend to stick to 
my text. 

Very truly yours, 


Publio Opinion, New York: April 2gth, 1905. 

Editor Public Opinion : 

I see by your last issue that Mr. Mosehy, secretary of 
the Interstate Commerce Commission, says : " I have read 
Mr. Warman's article with some interest, though I am a 
little at a loss to understand the object of if, unless it may 
be to put a stop to increasing adoption of the block signal 
system, and to prevent interference with the hours of labor 
and periods of rest which railroad men are subject to." 

I am not opposed to the adoption of the block signal 
system, never wrote nor spoke a word in condemnation of 
that system, and never heard one of my many friends who 
are in the railway service say he was opposed to that or any 
other safety appliance. I merely stated a well known fact 


when I said the block system would not do away with 
wrecks. I believe in a short, honest day's work, and good 
pay for the men who ride the rail. With my limited equip- 
ment I have done my best to set forth in song and story the 
heroic deeds of the grim heroes of these highways, and at 
the moment when I was writing " Safety on American Rail- 
ways" (Public Opinion, Marcl. .8th) Mr. Moseley was 
complimenting me by quoting befoi a senate committee one 
of my eariy efforts to immortalize *' The men who have died 
in their overclothea." No, Mr. Moseley and I are in tune 
when it comes to short days and reasonable rest for train- 
men ; and I can echo his splendid addrrss before the senate 
committee in favor of extending hero-medals to land sailors. 
That suggestion came, I believe, from Brother Roosevelt, 
and I am proud of him. We belong to the same lodge. If 
I mistake not, the president and I comprise a majority of the 
honorary membership in the Grand Lodge of the Brother 
hood of Locomotive Firemen of North America. 

" The interests that Mr. Warman evidently speaks for, 
namely, the General Managers' Association of Chicago." 
Against this charge I wish to file a most emphatic protest. 
I never have been, am not now, and never expect to be in 
the employ of the General Managers' Association. Doubt- 
less some of my acquaintances sit in that council, but if I 
weie called upon to name a single man who is a member of 
the General Managers' Association at this moment, or lose 
my life, it would be simply a guess. I never had a word, a 
letter, or a line, directly or indirectly, from that association. 
My article was not even suggested by a general manager ; 
" the object of it " was merely to tell the truth, viz., that 
American railways were well managed, paid better wages to 
their employees, and carried freight cheaper than the rail- 
ways of any other country under the sun, and that if both 
sides of the story were told, the showing would be by no 
means a bad one . 

It is coming pretty rocky for the journalistic fraternity if 
one must be regarded as having been bribed if he happens 


to have an opinion which runs counter to the kicker. 
However, it is well that we know where we belong. Hap- 
good goes to the Standard, Speerman to the Santa Ft?, and 
Warman to the G. M's. But this is not the fault of 
Mr. Moseley, it is the fault <rf the age. Unless you use 
yellow ink and froth at the mouth, you are insincere. 

I speak for no " interest," no railway or railway associa- 
tion. What I say represents my personal opinion. Every 
railway expert whc has visited America, so far as I know, 
has returned with a high regard for our roads and the way 
they are managed. For my i«rt I am proud of them. 
When I travel I experience a thrill of pride when I go over 
to the head end and find a Yankee locomotive. I rode one 
into the Klondike, another in Jerusalem, and haven't used 
any other since. 

Cy Warman. 

NOTK— " Saf. ty on American Railways" was written, as 
scores of other articles have been written, because someihitie 
suggested it, and in this case it was Mr. Priestley's report and 
the recollection of the past reiwrts of the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission. The article was submitted in the usual 
way, first lo the " Saturday Evening Post," was returned— 
sent to "Public Opinion," accepted and published. That's all. 



Among the delegates to the International Railway con- 
gress, which met in Waihington in May, 1905, there were a 
number of o(lici;iIs who had been connected with railways 
working under Government control. The opinion of the« 
disinterested railwaymen upon the subject of Government, 
and Independent roads was both valuable and interesting. 
The writer spent considerable time with the delegates, tra- 
velled with them, ate and drank with tliem, but he is unable 
to quote a single sentence or syllable favorable to an, 
form of Government control of railways or railway ratib< 
in America. 

On the contrary he could quote columns in condemnation 

of any and all forms of Government control. \o country 
under the sun has tried harder to solve the rate problem 
than have the sturdy Germans, and nowhere has the utter 
absurdity of the scheme been more conspicuously demon- 
strated. In their fruitless effort to adjuil the rail and .i\cr 
or canal rate, the Government have choked the commercial 
life out of one locality and boomed another. 

The slow moving Government machinery is loo tardy for 
the age in which we live. The wine crop fails in France, 
the people want Spanish wine. They ask the railways for 
a special rate to meet the emergency, but by the time the 
Wine Growers' Association has seen the Minister of Railways 
and the latter has taken the matter up with his Govern- 
ment, the next crop is ready to be harvested, and the neces- 
sity for the low rate has disappeared. 

Once there was a long, dry si)ell on the Plains. The 
cattle, mad with thirst, drove headlong through the desert 
dust until they dropped dead. I'he late Jay Gould was 
running the old Kansas Pacific. 

"Down with the rates," said the little Giant. "Rob every 
road in the west— steal stock cars— get the cattle out trfthe 

And they did. 


They stole stock cars, bored holes in box can, and 
carried the famished cattle over into Eaitern Kansaa and 
Missouri, and saved the situation. 

Later, when min came to western Kansas and Colorado, 
the old K.P. carried other cattle west at the r^tUar rate 
and re stocked the deserted ranches. 

We uke no note of such things here. We are used to 
theno, but the thing would be impossible in Europe, and 
equally impossible here if the rate had to be regulated by 
tiur Government.