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The Mississippi River Trade

The Mississippi River Trade image
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At the opening oï navigationin 188 fchere was an uimsual rush of watt) down the Mississippi Eiver, and, owin, Lo the high ratea of railroad tianspoi tion to the Atlantic seaboaid, there wa considerable wheat hhipped by barge to New Orleans for exportation. Ou esteenied friends in St. Louis hastilj rather too hastily it seems, announeec under the stnkingcaption of "At Last, that the grain trade of the Mississipp Vrtlley had abandoned Chicago, and through St, Louis aud the great rive would henceforth ünd itsway to th markets of the Old World. In due time ;he railroad rate3 were reduced, and Ifce great barge business was practically suspended, JKrom the official re;urns of tho year's business we ather Ao following resulte: Flour- Receipts, 1,559,941 barrels shipments,2,619,529 baTrels - a decvease of about 100,000 barrels received and 500,000 barrels in shipments. Wheat - Keceipts, 11,599,443 bushels; shipments, 6,863,594 bvishels - a decrease of 6,500,000 bushels in receipts and a decre;ise of 4,500,000 bushels in shipments. Of the shipmenta 3,750,000 bushels went by river to New Orleans for export, which i8 2,000,000 bushels less than in 1880. Corn- The receipts were 20,201,810 bushels; shipments, 14,424,393 bushels. Decrease in receipts 2,000,000 bushels, and in shipmenta 3,000,000 bushels. Of the shipments about 8,250,000 bushels of corn went to New Orleans for export. The total shipments trom St. Louis )y barge to New Orleans for export were 3,760,000 bushels of wheat and ,250,000 bushels of corn, the )ined being something less than onealf of the total shipments of wheat nel corn from St. Louis during the rear 1881. We quote these figures not ior the purpose of pointing out the mallness of the grain trade of St. Louis 8 compared with Chicago, but to exilain why the expectations of an imnense trade by the celebrated barges ïave proved to be f ailures. The wheat hipment from St. Louis to New Oreans did not equal the receipts of wheat at Chicago by the Illinois & Michigan Canal; nor did it equal more han the shipments from St. Louis by ai! and water to the east and to all the otuer cities and towns all through the outhern states. The Tribune ha3 pointed out repeatedly the great value to all the people of lie Mississippi Valley in having the Üississippi river outlet made navigable f or ocean steamers. jN o place in Uie west, not even St. Louis, is likely to lerive so much benefit froui liaving the Vlississippi river permanently navigatie, except in winter when frozen up jelow St. Louis, as is Chicago. It is inmaterial whether a bushei of grain s ever transported by tliat river, so ong as the fact remains that it may be so transported in any quantity and al reasonable rates. St. Louis last spring, by sending a large quantity of grain to New Orleans for export, rendered an immense service to Chicago and to all the west. It opened the eyes of the railroad managers to the eertainty that while that river was open there was a limit to the rates of Iransportation. The raihoads were brought into direct competition with the river barges at St. Lonis, and the whole west reaped the profil of the competition. Tho raihsad competition could no longer be maintained, and the west is richer by many millions of dollars by the result. It is true that St. Louis did not gain much trad e by the operation, but she rendered a great service to the western producers, and the lesson is one that is not likelv to be forgotten by the


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Ann Arbor Democrat