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THE AMERICAN RAILROAD,
Harper's Monthly—ca. 1875

I PROPOSE to give, as far as it can be given within the limits of a single magazine article, some account of the origin, history, and internal organization of the American railroad. Into the question so abundantly discussed of late in the public prints and periodicals, and now even in political caucuses and conventions, concerning the mutual rights and obligations of the railroad companies and the public, I shall not enter. Yet it may contribute something to a better understanding, and so indirectly to a solution of that problem, to have a clear idea of what a railroad corporation is, what are the hazards, what the toils, what the duties, difficulties, and dangers, of those who are connected with, and who have done most to create, develop, and carry on, these great highways of the present century, the arteries which supply the whole body politic with its vital circulation—trade and commerce.

The traveler going West steps to the ticket office of the Pennsylvania, the Erie, or the New York Central Railroad. He purchases his ticket for San Francisco. He gives his trunk to a baggage-master, gets for it a little piece of metal, and sees and cares for it no more. A porter shows him his place in the Pullman car. He takes his seat, pulls off his boots, puts on his slippers, opens his bag, takes out his Harper's Magazine, and his traveling cares are at an end. For six days and nights he is rolled swiftly across the continent. Engineers and conductors change. He is passed along from one railroad corporation to another. At night his seat becomes a bed, and he sleeps as quietly, or nearly so, as if in his own bed at home. He traverses broad plains, passes over immense viaducts, whirls swiftly over mountain torrents on iron bridges, climbs or pierces mountains; but he never leaves his parlor; if need be, his meals are brought to him where be sits; and at length, after a week of luxurious though weary traveling, in which he has been in the keeping of half a dozen different companies, and has traversed over three thousand miles of country, part of it uninhabited and desolate, he is set clown in the station at San Francisco. He looks at the clock in the station-room, compares it with the time-table in his hand, and finds that his journey has been accomplished with all the regularity and punctuality of the sun. His little piece of brass is given to an express agent or a hackman, and when he reaches his hotel, the trunk which he surrendered in Now York is in the great hall awaiting him. It seems a very simple business; and if perchance through all this journey he finds the dinner at one waiting-place cold, or the conductor on one part of his trip discourteous, or the train stopped at any point in the long ride beyond his expectations, or his arrival at his destination delayed beyond the appointed hour, he is very apt to grumble inwardly if not vocally. How much money has been put into this long line of rail; how much has been sunk in unsuccessful experiments; how many rich men have been ruined before the work was done; how many sleepless nights surveyors and contractors have spent in providing this marvelous highway; how intricate and involved is the system of co-partnership that is necessary to such a continuous transportation "without change of cars;" what a gigantic undertaking it is to administer this system, with its thousands of employees; how wide awake the engineers have been that the traveler may sleep; what dangers they have had to face that he may ride in safety —of all this he is unconscious, if not absolutely ignorant.

The Erie Railway, one of the longest lines of railroad in the world, employs fifteen thousand persons in various occupations. It is estimated that there is scarcely an hour of the day or night when there are not one hundred trains in actual running along its line. The administration of such a force of men, the management of such a system of railroad trains, without clashing or collision, requires executive ability of the very highest order. If, Sir, you think it easy, count up the difficulties you have with your own Irish gardener in the administration of your country place, with its horse and cow; then multiply those difficulties by fifteen thousand, and you have the problem of an American railroad president.

The railroad system has not yet reached its semi-centennial. The 27th of September, 1825, may be regarded as its birthday, if it can be said to have had a day of birth. The railroad from Stockton to Darlington, in England, had been completed. On the urgent recommendations of George Stephenson the original plan of a wooden tramway had been abandoned, and an iron railway had been substituted. Yielding to his persistency, the directors of this newfangled and much ridiculed enterprise permitted him to put upon the road, which they had intended only for horse draught, a steam locomotive. A great concourse of people assembled on the occasion of its opening, to glorify the success or ridicule the failure of the man whom the multitude were equally ready to canonize as the wisest or to condemn as the craziest man in all England. Thoroughness was above all qualities a characteristic of this father of railroads; hence, fortunately for his reputation, and yet more fortunately for his work, he needed only an opportunity to demonstrate the practicability of his plans. On the trial day he was always ready; no overlooked or neglected point ever brought him or his work into disrepute. A long procession of vehicles was formed-six wagons loaded with coals and flour, a covered coach containing directors and passengers, twenty-one coal wagons fitted up for and crowded with passengers, and six more wagons loaded with coals. Locomotive engine No. 1, driven by George Stephenson, headed the procession. A man on horseback rode before, and heralded the coming of the train. A great concourse of people, on horseback and on foot, accompanied it; but not long. The horseman who heralded was compelled to leave the track; the accompanying horsemen and the runners were distanced; and the first train that ever carried passengers finished its journey at the rate of from twelve to fifteen miles an hour.

It is not easy for us, with the whistle of the locomotive as familiar in our ears as the sound of the church bell, to conceive the difficulties under which the early promoters of railroads labored. The necessity of making a comparatively level roadway was apparent from the first. How this was to be accomplished was not so evident. That the returns in traffic would ever compensate for the prodigious expense involved was believed by few. That steam could ever be practically employed for draught in such a way as to compete in speed and utility with horses was ridiculed by almost every one. This ridicule was not confined to unintelligent and ignorant minds. The ablest engineers combined with the common people in declaring it impossible. They demonstrated its impossibility. Scientific men declared that it could not be done. Practical men declared that the dangers would render it inconceivably hazardous to public safety, even if the dream of the visionary enthusiasts could be realized. Political economists cried out against an imaginary reform, the result of which would be to throw out of employment drivers of stage-coaches and teamsters and innkeepers, and the whole class of artisans and traders whom the then common methods of traffic kept busy. One of the ablest of English quarterlies, one of the warmest friends of the movement, thus ridiculed the absurd expectations of some of its sanguine promoters:

"What can be more palpably absurd and ridiculous than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stage-coaches? We should as soon expect the people of Woolwich to suffer themselves to be fired off upon one of Congreve's ricochet rockets as trust themselves to the mercy of such a machine going at such a rate." A Parliamentary opponent to the first great passenger line, the Manchester and Liverpool, declared that it would be impossible to work the engine against a gale of wind. Another prophesied that it would deteriorate land in the vicinity of Manchester alone to the extent of £20,000. When Parliamentary opposition was at length silenced by argument or hushed by money—the charter of the road cost, in immaculate England, forty years before the days of Credit Mobilier, £27,000—opposition and obstacle had but begun. The surveyors were mobbed by the people; the work was impeded when commenced; engineers had to learn their art by experience, and of course by one that was prolonged and costly. No less resolute and determined a will, no less practical and sagacious an engineer, than George Stephenson could have carried to its consummation the first great trunk line. It was hard for him, but it was fortunate for the world, that this road presented so many of the difficulties with which in all districts railroad engineering has to cope. On the thirty miles between Liverpool and Manchester there were under or over the railroad sixty-three bridges. The stone cutting at Olive Mount is to-day one of the most formidable in the world: it is two miles long, and in some places one hundred feet deep. The roadway across Chat Moss is one of the wonders of railway enterprise. Considering the circumstances under which it was devised and executed, it deserves to rank with the chiefest engineering exploits of the century.

But if the railroad in its inception met with great impediments from its foes, their opposition is not to be wondered at. For the schemes of the first railroad men were often visionary and impracticable. Those that stood the test of time remain; the others are forgotten. That the world did not at first discriminate between them is not surprising. The curiously wild attempt to construct the Erie Railway on piles, and so save the expense of embankments, is but one of the numerous costly experiments which rendered no other service to any one than the experience they brought. How singularly crude were the ideas of the railroad pioneers receives a still more curious illustration in the history of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, one of the earliest constructed on American soil. The first locomotive was made with sails, to be propelled by the wind, like a ship. At the famous trial of locomotives at Liverpool in 1829 four engines put in an appearance. Of the four George Stephenson's Rocket was the only one that achieved any thing. Of the others two broke utterly down; the third could attain at its utmost but a speed of five or six miles an hour. In number the failures preponderated; it is not strange that for a time they preponderated in the influence which they exerted on the public mind.

It will render our task of tracing the history and describing the organization of the American railroad simpler if we take a single one as illustrative of the entire system. For that purpose I have chosen the Erie Railway. It is one of the longest, as it is one of the oldest, on the continent. In its early history it met and conquered obstacles which might well have sufficed to crush an enterprise financially much stronger. A large part, of its course lay through an absolutely trackless wilderness. To reach its destination it was necessary to climb a mountain range over 1700 feet above the level of the sea, and mate its way along the course of a stream which flows between almost precipitous walls of rock. As a monument of engineering skill it is without a superior to-day in America—certainly if the times and circumstances in which it was constructed be taken into account.

The first step in the construction of a railroad is its conception. The originator of a successful railroad must be something of a prophet. He must not only be wise to see, but sagacious to foresee. For railroads do not merely supply a demand which already exists; they create it. The railroad originator always appears to be an enthusiast to his fellows. The first successful English railroad ran from Stockton to Darlington. The latter town lies in the heart of one of the richest mineral fields in the north of England. The former is situated near the mouth of the Tees, and is the nearest sea-port town. How little even the founders conceived the business which this line would build up is indicated by the. fact that they counted on a coal traffic of 165,000 tons, and that in 1860 that traffic had actually grown to over 3,000,000 tons annually! They consented without protest to a clause in their charter limiting their freight charges on coal for exportation to a half-penny per mile, for that branch of their trade they regarded as entirely subsidiary. Yet in the course of a very few years it constituted the main bulk of their business. In ten years this railroad had converted a solitary farmhouse in the midst of unproductive pasture land into a town of six thousand inhabitants, which has since more than quadrupled in size. Of course we could cite abundant illustrations more striking from the history of American railroads. We cite this because it was prophetic of all the subsequent history of railroad enterprise.

The conception of a railroad is often a flash of intuition in the individual mind. But before the originator can realize his vision he must succeed in inspiring other minds with his own conviction and enthusiasm, and this is always a work of time. Of the prenatal history of the railroad the Erie is an illustrious example.

In 1779 General James Clinton and General Sullivan, at the close of an expedition against the Iroquois Indians in the southern tier of counties of New York State, proposed to Congress the construction of what they termed an Appian Way from the city of New York to Lake Erie. The great inland seas which we call lakes, and which have done so much to develop the rich but formerly inaccessible West, were at that time separated from the sea-coast by the mountain range which stretches, with here and there a break, from the Gulf States to the river St. Lawrence. The great West, the future but then unrecognized granary of the nation, was more remote from the Atlantic than is to-day the empire of Japan. To the Clintons New York owes the two great highways which have rendered her chief city the metropolis of the nation—the Erie Canal and the Erie Railway. The Appian Way never got further in construction than an ineffectual application to Congress for an appropriation. But the dream of the father descended to the son, and De Witt Clinton, who pushed forward the act authorizing the construction of the Erie Canal secured for it the support of the southern counties by promising in return his influence, and that of his party, for the construction of another highway through the region and along the line designated by his father. Fifty years passed away before the first step was taken toward the realization of this Appian Way. Meanwhile the methods of intercommunication had changed. The canal had supplanted the public road, and the railway was beginning to supplant the canal. And at last, in April, 1832, three years after George Stephenson ran his first passenger locomotive over the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the Legislature of New York granted a charter for the construction of a road of iron where General James Clinton had dreamed, only of one modeled as well as named after the famous highway of ancient Rome. This charter affords a curious illustration of the shortsightedness that is characteristic of the cunning of politicians. It forbade all connections with Pennsylvania and New Jersey railroads. For is it not the office of a Legislature to promote only the interests of its own State? So the one terminus was made at Piermont, the nearest accessible point in the State, on the Hudson River, to the city of New York; the other was made at Dunkirk, the most remote western harbor on Lake Erie. But through cars have long since been run direct both to Cincinnati and Chicago; and the long pier which was built out over the flats of the Tappan Zee, at Piermont, to make the steamboat connections with the city is only useful as a permanent warning to legislators that it is their business to facilitate the natural course of trade, not to obstruct, to divert, or to control it.

The railroad being conceived, and the conception having gained sufficient adherents to furnish a minimum of capital necessary to prove the dream of the originator to be not all a dream, the next step is a survey.

If the reader will turn to any map of New York State, he will find that the southern tier of counties, from the Hudson River as far west as Binghamton, are intersected by mountain ranges, whose abrupt and rugged character and wild and desolate features can be but very inadequately indicated. He will see also traced upon the map by insignificant-looking serpentine lines the course of two great rivers, the Delaware and the Susquehanna, whose branches are but sixteen miles apart at Deposit, while the waters of the one empty into Delaware Bay, and those of the other into Chesapeake Bay. These mountain lines indicate the difficulties to be overcome; these river lines indicate the methods by which the railroad engineer overcomes them.

The first work of the surveyor is to trice the general outlines of his course. These are almost uniformly indicated to him by the watercourses, for the water-courses indicate, first, natural openings between the hills; second, an easy grade in ascending from the lower to the higher levels. The Erie Railway enters the hill country at Suffern's. It follows the Ramapo River for a score or so of miles, strikes the Delaware at Port Jervis, follows the tortuous course of that magnificent mountain torrent to Deposit, crosses the mountains at that point, reaches the tipper waters of the Susquehanna at the town of that name, leaves that river to follow the Tioga, a branch of the same stream, parts from that to avail itself of the valley of the Canisteo, crosses a short piece of intervening country to reach and follow down the Genesee, passes from that to the Alleghany, and does not finally abandon the river valleys until it is within forty-five miles of its original western terminus, Dunkirk. In its journey of 459 miles it has availed itself of the valleys of seven rivers. In a somewhat similar manner the Pennsylvania Central Railroad crosses the same great mountain range by aid of the Susquehanna, the Juniata, and the Conemaugh rivers; and the Pacific Railroad follows the Platte River almost to its source in the Rocky Mountains on the eastern side, and descends upon the western slope by the valleys of a succession of less important but equally useful mountain streams.

The first duty of the railroad surveyor, then, is to trace in a general way the course of the projected railroad upon an ordinary map by means of a careful study of its mountain ranges and its water-courses. The more detailed and elaborate the map, the more perfect can he make his preliminary and office survey. This being done, the real work of the survey begins. For this purpose the chief engineer makes a general reconnaissance of the whole ground, generally on horseback. He provides himself with the best map or maps he can obtain. He picks up as best he can more definite and precise local information. To succeed in his work he must have qualities which are rare, qualities which no mere school of engineering can impart. In his profession, as in every other, there is a certain something indefinable in native genius, something which may perish unused for want of development and training, but which no mere development and training can wholly supply. The engineer must be a man of ready parts. He must have himself always well in hand. He must understand human nature, and know how to deal with it. He must be equally at home in the log-hut among the mountains and in the velvet-carpeted and mahogany furnished office in the great city. He must be a man of quick eye and abundant resources, able to meet an exigency, or to vary in detail and on the moment a carefully matured plan for the purpose of avoiding an unexpected obstacle, and reaching the general result with the least expenditure of time and money. The engineer has tunneled the Alps, and an expert assures us that with money enough it would be possible to construct a permanent floating bridge across the Atlantic. But there are a great many things which it does not pay to accomplish, and the successful engineer must be able to subordinate professional pride to practical results; to avoid obstacles that can be avoided, and to overcome only those that he can not escape; to make the fewest possible rock cuttings, tunnels, culverts, and bridges; and to be known and honored less for what he has done than for what he has avoided doing.

The more accurate survey now follows. This is always effected in sections. It is performed by an engineer corps, which consists of an assistant engineer, a transit-man, a leveler, a rod-man, two chain-men, one or two flag-men, and a gang of axe-men. Where the company are obliged to camp out, the necessary accessories of a camp are added. The work of such a surveying party is always, under the best circumstances, one of hardship and adventure. They must stop at no obstacle; and the country presents innumerable difficulties which the map had not reported, and even the reconnaissance had not discovered. Morasses are to be traversed, streams are to be crossed, precipitous hills to be climbed, impenetrable thickets to be penetrated. The Erie Railway runs for miles along the banks of the Delaware River, in many places upon a shelf cut in the solid rock, fifty feet or more above the torrent. Yet somehow along this seemingly inaccessible gorge the surveying party had to make their way before the first blast could be fired to prepare for the present rocky road-bed. It is said that at some points they were lowered by ropes from the top of the cliff, and so, hanging between heaven and earth, took their levels. The earliest surveys of such works as the Pacific Railroad, through a country absolutely a wilderness, and almost absolutely an untrodden wilderness, are marvels of human capability.

The process of surveying does not differ widely from that with which we may assume our readers to be familiar in the laying out of town and farm boundaries and of public highways, except in one important particular. In the railroad survey the exact differences in level must be preserved and respected. Every inequality must be noted. This is done by the leveler, and is preserved by the profile map. Of these profile maps there are two—one, the larger map, indicates the general features of the route; the second and more detailed profile, or series of profiles, preserves to the foot a careful record of every inequality of ground over which the projected route is to pass. These reports indicate exactly the obstacles which the engineer has to encounter. They inevitably lead to new reconnaissances and new surveys. Deviations here and there are found to be expedient, to save expense, now in first cost of construction, now in subsequent cost of operating.

At length the facts are all before the engineer-in-chief, and he is prepared to make his report. It goes before the board of directors. Its conclusions are scanned, its methods cross-examined, its results subjected to the severest scrutiny. The counsel of other and often rival engineers is called in. A thousand questions must be raised, debated, determined, before any thing can be considered settled. The road must deviate here to get the custom of a large town or city, there to avoid grounds through which the right of way would be more costly than a tunnel or a filling; now to tap a rival or a cross railroad at the right spot, now to accommodate some wealthy and influential patron, whose interest in the road depends on making it at some point subservient to his own business. If the engineer could only be permitted to ran his projected road where it would be easiest built, his problem would be a simple one; but he must also consider what will be the cost of carriage, what will be expensive to maintain as well as to construct, where he will get custom, and how he may avoid local opposition. A single problem within our personal knowledge illustrates this phase of the work. A railroad is under survey along the west bank of the Hudson, which passes within a mile of our house. Five miles north it reaches the city of Newburgh. If it run along the river-bank, it must pay from half a million to a million of dollars for its right of way. That necessity it can a-void only by tunneling the hill on which the city is built. The city itself is evenly divided in opinion. One half aver that a river railroad will spoil their commerce; the other half assert that a tunnel railroad will spoil their town. Whichever horn of the dilemma the company takes, it will be unpopular with half a city. And its engineer and directors must be wise not only to measure the comparative cost of the two plans (itself hot an easy matter), but also wise to foresee the effect, on both through and local traffic, of both plans. In short, if the grown railroad is often whimsical and despotic, it does but avenge itself for the whims and despotism which it suffers from the public while it is yet in its infancy.

The railroad is projected; the projector has secured the co-operation of sufficient capital to enable a beginning to be made; it has been surveyed; the right of way has been obtained; a charter hag been secured; it now remains to construct the road. In the inception of railroad life this was done by the company. Of the first railroad George Stephenson was both surveyor and contractor. He laid out every foot of the line of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, taking the sights through the spirit-level with his own hands and eyes. The plans of the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad he fought through Parliament by his own indomitable will in the face of the opposition of wealth and science and political power. And when at last the charter was obtained and the work begun, he personally supervised it from the beginning to the end, getting his breakfast of oatmeal with his own hands, living on horseback, personally inspecting the progress of every department of the work, supervising the pay-rolls of the men, and perfecting with his own hand the working drawings. But the growth of railroads has brought with it a division of labor, and now the railroad corporation rarely or never constructs its own line. This is done for the company by a railroad contractor. Fifty years ago the farmer literally built his own house, mortised the timber himself, perhaps cutting down the trees and squaring them with his own broad-axe, and calling in his neighbors to assist him with the, raising. The gentleman of to-day hires a builder to construct his house and an architect to supervise it, and perhaps never sees his edifice from the day the ground is first broken until he is ready to move in. Railroad architecture is a distinct art, and railroad building a distinct profession; and the company as little thinks of personally constructing its own road as does the merchant of personally supervising the erection of his own house.

The railroad contractor is eminently a practical man. He is apt to be a self-made man. He is not unfrequently one who commenced life with the spade, the pick-axe, and the wheelbarrow. He had greater industry or greater shrewdness than his fellows, and became the head of a gang of men. Then he took a small contract on his own account, invested luckily in real estate along the line of a projected railway, amassed a little capital, employed both capital and practical experience to good advantage, and so gradually got on in the world, till now, what with capital and credit, he stands ready to undertake any work which the railroad capitalist desires undertaken. He knows how many cubic feet of earth there are in a hill, and how many it will take to fill up a valley. He has a practiced eye for soils, and detects by a sort of intuition where the, hard rock will be, and where the cutting will be an easy one. Earth digging, blasting rocks, pumping, embanking, boring and building tunnels, erecting bridges and culverts, are all familiar operations with him. He possesses a larger or smaller stock of wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, carts, earth wagons, and horses. He lays temporary sleepers and light rails as the work, progresses, and generally owns at least one or two locomotives and the necessary dirt cars for dragging materials. He usually contracts for a section of the road to be built at a fixed price, or at one which varies within certain limits, according to the development of difficulties as the work progresses. He often sublets to other contractors his work in its detail. He sometimes makes a miscalculation and loses a fortune, but his miscalculations are oftener on the credit side of his ledger, and the result a fortune made. He has abundant opportunities to make incidental profits, and he is not slow to avail himself of them.

But he must not only have a practical knowledge of railroad works, he must have a practical skill in managing railroad workers.

The first public works of importance in England were the canals. The same class of workers that constructed them are now employed in the construction of railroads. Their popular name is derived from their original connection with the great system of inland navigation which preceded and prepared for railways; they are still termed navvies. The picture which Parliamentary reports give us of the character of these men is not encouraging to those who imagine that violence and corruption are a peculiar characteristic of the American republic, and that the maintenance of a stronger and more centralized government, like that of Great Britain, would put an end to the brawls and lawlessness which they imagine to be peculiar to a free country.

"Possessed of all the daring recklessness of the smuggler," says one English authority, Mr. Roscoe, "their ferocious behavior can only be equaled by the brutality of their language. It may be truly said their hand is against every man's, and before they have been long located every man's hand is against theirs. From being long known to each other they generally act in concert, and put at defiance any local constabulary force; consequently crimes of the most atrocious character were common, and robbery, without any attempt at concealment, was an everyday occurrence."

Another English writer, Mr. Francis, is equally complimentary. "The dread which such men as these spread throughout a rural community was striking; nor was it without a cause. Depredations among the farms and fields of the vicinity were frequent. They injured every thing they approached. From their huts to that part of the railway at which they worked, over corn or grass, tearing down embankments, injuring young plantations, making gaps in hedges, on they went, in one direct line, without regard to damage done or property invaded. Game disappeared from the most sacred preserves; gamekeepers were defied; and country gentlemen who had imprisoned rustics by the dozen for violating the same law shrank in despair from the railway 'navigator.' They often committed the most outrageous acts in their drunken madness. Like dogs released from a week's confinement, they ran about, and did not know what to do with themselves. They defied the law, broke open prisons, released their comrades, and slew policemen. The Scotch fought with the Irish, and the Irish attacked the Scotch; while the rural peace-officers, utterly inadequate to suppress the tumult, stood calmly by and waited the result. When no work was required of them on the Sunday, the most beautiful spots in England were desecrated by their presence. Lounging in highways and byways, grouping together in lanes and valleys, insolent and insulting, they were dreaded by the good and welcomed by the bad. They left a sadness in the homes of many whose sons they had vitiated and whose daughters they had dishonored. Stones were thrown at passersby; women were personally abused, and men were irritated. On the week-day, when their work was done, the streets were void of all save their lawless visitors, and of those who associated with them. They were regarded as savages; and when it is remembered that large bodies of men, armed with pitchforks and scythes, went out to do battle with those on another line a few mile off, the feeling was justified by facts. Crime of every description increased, but offense against the person were most common. On one occasion hundreds of them were within five minutes' march of each other ere the military and the magistrates could get between them to repress their daring desires."

Christian philanthropy has not been oblivious of the condition of these navvies, equally dreadful to themselves and dangerous to society. Among the most interesting of all home mission work is that which has been carried on by ladies of the highest culture and refinement among these barbarians of civilization. The result of improved systems of administration by Christian contractors has been more effectual, however, than any direct and immediate efforts by lay missionaries. Of these the work of Sir Morton Pete may be mentioned as a type. He broke up the ticket system, i.e., the payment of wages by tickets, to be redeemed at the shop established by the contractor. He paid all wages weekly. He opened the way for house to house visitation by Christian clergymen and laymen. He provided cleanly barracks in lieu of their huts of turf or stone. He provided every one who could read with a Bible, and organized clubs for mutual help in case of sickness or misfortune. His example was followed by others; and though the English navvy is not as yet a very creditable product of the civilization of the nineteenth century, his character and condition have greatly improved.

In this country the work of the pick and the barrow is largely performed by Irish laborers. Their temporary villages are familiar to every traveler on oar railroads. Their management requires, on the part of the contractor, peculiar dexterity to avoid the loss inevitable from wasted hours or misapplied energies. In brief, the railroad contractor has under him an army of men without the discipline of an army; he must exercise over them the control of a general without being invested with a general's authority.

A condensed sketch of the difficulties and dangers attendant upon the construction of a single line of railroad will better illustrate the qualities which go to make a successful railroad contractor, and the nature of his work, than any general description. From Aspinwall to Panama there runs a line of railroad across the isthmus which bears the latter name. It is not a long line; its length is but forty-seven miles and a fraction. It is not of difficult grades; its highest point is but two hundred and sixty-three feet above tidewater, and its maximum grade is sixty feet to a mile. Yet this single, and in size comparatively insignificant, railroad involved the construction of one hundred and thirty-four minor water-ways and thirty-six bridges, the latter ranging from twelve to six hundred and twenty-five feet in length. The construction of this road occupied five years and nine months. It commenced at Aspinwall, in the heart of a swamp. The laborers had to clear their way through the tangled underbrush of a tropical forest, thigh-deep in water, subject at any moment to the attacks of alligators and other not less dangerous though less formidable reptiles, and enveloped in a cloud of flies and mosquitoes. Every workman went to his labor veiled. Residence on the land was impossible. An old brig anchored in the bay served the purpose of barracks The constant motion of their prison-ship subjected the landsmen to continued nausea by night, which but illy fitted them for toil by day. The malarious fevers of the country converted their movable barracks into a hospital ship. The two engineers in charge took turns in the fever with their men, the least disabled rising from the hospital bed to give place to his companion. Natives were lazy, and would not work. Imported laborers from the North sickened and died in such numbers that the work actually stopped for want of hands. The importation of Chinese coolies proved an unsuccessful experiment, for melancholy and suicide thinned out their ranks almost as fast as malarious fever the ranks of their braver comrades. The house of the first engineer was built on the tops of stumps to keep it above the water-level. The freshets which swell the Chagres River, sometimes in a single night to a height of forty feet above its ordinary level, carried away the nearly completed bridge which was to span it. Twice the road was contracted for, and twice thrown back upon the company's hands, before it was completed so far as to enable a locomotive to pass over it from ocean to ocean.

A distinct department of railroad engineering is the bridge-building. This is now very generally undertaken, in the case of the larger bridges, by separate corporations. Iron and stone are very generally taking the place of wood as material for bridges on our best railways. The character of the structure, whether iron or stone, whether tubular, or suspension, or arched, depends upon the nature of the chasm and the stream to be crossed. Our artist, from the many illustrations of bridges which the Erie Railway affords, selects two as samples of the problems to be solved by the railroad engineer, and the methods of solving them. In the case of the Starrucca Viaduct the problem was, in descending the western slope of the mountain that intervenes between the Susquehanna and the Delaware valleys, to take a flying leap across a vale a quarter of a mile wide, from one hillside to another. The valley was quite too deep and long to be filled up with an earth embankment, which, moreover, would be in constant danger from rains and freshets. This problem was solved by the construction of a stone viaduct 1200 feet long, 110 feet high, and consisting of eighteen arches with spans of fifty feet. It is built of solid masonry, and appears to be as durable as the everlasting hills themselves. The other problem was involved in the necessity of crossing the Genesee River from the high table-lands through which, at Portage, it cuts a deep but narrow ravine. Its solution has given rise to one of the most marvelous wooden bridges in the country. It is built on thirteen stone piers set in the bed of the river, on which is reared a mass of timber rising to the height of 234 feet. It is said to be so constructed that any timber in the bridge can be removed and replaced at pleasure. These illustrations are taken but as types of the difficulties to be overcome by the railroad contractor, and the methods of overcoming them. The difficulties are as diverse as nature itself. To attempt any comprehensive account of bridges and bridge-building would require not a paragraph, but a distinct article.

In brief, then, it is the office of the railroad contractor not only to pierce the hills, bridge the streams, cross the valleys, construct the stations; not only must he be a bridge-builder, a road-maker, and a practical mechanic; not only must he do his work with ignorant, unskillful, often dishonest workmen, but he must do it frequently in the heart of a wild, waste wilderness; must transport thither his men, his tools, his provisions; must erect the shelter and provide the necessaries of life for his workmen; must keep up their failing courage with his own, and must do all at the hazard not only of his purse, if his estimates have deceived him, but at the hazard of his health and even of his life.

The railroad is built. The money has been raised. The cars have been constructed, and the locomotives purchased. The railroad is equipped and in running order. Let us glance rapidly at the working of the road. For this purpose let us take the history of a single train—say, the morning lightning express on the Erie Railway from New York to Buffalo.

The first work of the day is to put the train together. Every traveler has observed what a Wilderness of cars is scattered about the stations at the termini of our large roads. These labyrinths of railroad track are technically termed yards. At Hornellsville, where the two forks of the Erie, Railway unite, one going to Buffalo, the other to Dunkirk, there are over sixteen miles of these side tracks. Through the heart of this yard the through track must be kept always clear for passing trains.

From the cars which fill up the sidings each outgoing train must be made up. In the case of the passenger express this is a comparatively simple matter. The cars that have come in the night before are re-arranged in a reverse order, are swept and dusted and washed, and ready for use again. But the putting together of a freight or mixed train is often a labor of great perplexity. The cars which are intended to form such a train are often scattered widely over the yard, one on the warehouse track, another on the lumber side track, a third on the coal side track, a fourth among the defective cars in the repair shop. These it is the business of the yardsman to collect and organize into a train. For this purpose there is placed under his orders a small switching engine, with its engineer and fireman. From morning to night this yardsman is on the move. He must know every inch of his depot yard, the beginning and end of every side track, the peculiarities of every switch, the time of the arrival and departure of every train, the location of every car. He must know how to get them in place with the least possible waste of time and energy, how to utilize every moment, when he may safely cross this track, when run along that. All day he is dodging in and out among tracks crowded with cars, and often with passing trains, with nothing to guide him but his 'own judgment, making his own time-table from minute to minute, sometimes under exigencies such that a delay of a minute results in a delay of hours. Next to the engineer and fireman, there is perhaps no position of greater hazard or greater responsibility than that of the yardsman.

The train is in its place. The early passengers are arriving and getting themselves comfortably seated for their trip, while the fireman is at work preparing his engine for the day's work. Every engine has its own engineer and fireman. This is a necessity, for an engine is like an organ; each new one must be learned anew before one can play on it well. The most experienced engineer can never use a new engine to good advantage. Did you never examine the iron horse as it stands at the head of its train, impatient to begin its day's journey? How it shines! What mirrors every bit of burnished brass and polished steel! It must be groomed like a horse, and the fireman is the groom. There is a hostler besides, or gang of hostlers: wipers they call them. When the engine comes in from its day's duty it goes straight to the engine-house, and the wiper takes it in hand. Sooty, dusty, smoky, greasy, and hot, it is delivered to him. He does not leave it until every piece of metal shines again like French glass, or the reflecting mirror of a great telescope. "Mighty unpleasant sort of 'work it is until you get used to it. For you see an engine don't cool down right off when it comes in, and it's pretty hot work handlin' machinery just after a hundred-mile run, and the steam only just let out. of the boiler." Yet, with all the hostler's care, the groom is never satisfied; and after the morning fire is kindled, and the tender is piled full of coal, and the water has been taken on, you may see him still polishing away at portions of the machinery, which might well be the envy of any housekeeper. All aboard! The last look is taken by the careful engineer at his machinery, the steam is tested, the signal-bell rings, and the train starts and rolls slowly out of the station.

Come ride with me on the engine. It will be necessary to got a special permit from the superintendent, for the strictest orders forbid the engineer to carry any one on his engine without- Nay, stop! It is nothing much to ride on an engine by day; but with Mr. Joseph Taylor, himself a railway superintendent, for our companion, we will try it on a night express.

"The Greyhound had a full head of steam on, and was blowing off its safety-valve, making a deafening noise, and groaning with the power within her. Carefully proceeding through the yard and fast freight trains that would follow us, we soon left the station lights behind, and plowed into the darkness and the storm.

"John Dobbs was one of the oldest and best men on the road. It was his boast, and an honest one, that during the sixteen years he had been driving on that road, he had not cost the company a dollar for any negligence or mistake of his. His record was clear. I sat and watched him from the opposite side of the cab. He was rather tall, thin, and of a nervous temperament; and although not even the smoke-stack of the engine could be seen for the darkness and the drifting snow, his piercing eye never wavered from its unsubstantial mark. One hand on the throttle, the other on the reversing lever, he stood erect and firm, intensely propelling his vision into the abysmal darkness beyond. The Greyhound began to feel her feet; her speed increased with every stroke of the piston head. Her machinery quivered with its force; she leaped and reeled on each defective joint, but her iron members held her firm. The fireman never ceased to cast in the fuel, and the fierce flames darted ardently through her brassy veins. Suddenly a scream from the whistle, a quick, movement on the throttle-the fireman rushed to the other side of the engine—a flash of light! We passed a station and a freight train on the side track. More fuel into the fire, and the Greyhound urged ahead, for now we, had a straight piece of track before us. The storm abated, and the sky cleared. The fireman produced from his pocket a small cutty-pipe, loaded it with tobacco, lighted it with a puff or two, and without saying a word, stuck it between John's teeth. John had taken about twenty rapid whiffs, when the fireman, as unceremoniously as before, transferred it to himself, and with a few fierce draws consumed the load—a very impolite proceeding, but apparently part of the discipline of the engine. Those few draws did both men good. Johnny's grasp tightened on the throttle, and the fireman with new energy threw in the wood.

"We passed a few more stations and freight trains, and at tremendous speed bounded from the level down a grade, the steepest on the road. Steam was shut off, the fireman seized the wheel, the whistle screamed for the brakes, and we finally came to a stand right under the hose of a water-tank.

"'Engine-driving is trying work such weather as to-night, Sir,' said Johnny, wiping the perspiration off his face with his sleeve, 'when yon can't see your signal-lights, nor even your smoke-stack, and you have to ran like mad on a bad track to make up time so as not to lose connection. I tell yon it makes a man sweat if he's as cold as a lump of ice. You have to go it blind. You can't see if the switches are right. If trains you are to pass have got into a side track, you can't make out any thing till you're right into it. It's trying work on the mind, Sir, is driving an engine. Such as us get very little sleep. The other night my wife started up in bed and screamed as if she was being murdered. "What are you doing?" she cried; and bless your life, Sir, there was I pulling her slender arm with all my might, while my foot was steadied against something else, trying to reverse.'

"Over this dream at his wife's expense John Dobbs laughed heartily; and as the tank was now filled with water, and a fresh supply of wood was thrown on the tender, I wished him good-night, preferring to complete my journey in the palace car at the rear."

With John's statement, "engine-driving is trying work on the mind," we fully agree; in truth, no one who has not ridden on the engine of a fast express by night, as we have done, can imagine how trying it is. No wonder that the perpetual stimulant to their nerves indurates their sensibilities; no wonder that, as a class, railroad engineers are a "hard set." But they are, with rare exceptions, noble, faithful, true, ready always to sacrifice themselves to save their train. The true engineer must be a man of ready resources and quick instincts. He must have a mind that is stimulated, not dazed, by emergencies. He must know how to think quick in the threatening of danger; when to shut off steam and stop his train; when to put on more steam, and ran the hazard of brushing the obstacle from the track with such momentum as to save himself and his passengers. He must know both his engine and his road, what she can bear, and what strain the road puts upon her; where are the up grades where she needs all her steam, where the down grades where all should be cut off; where the crossings where the whistle or the bell must be sounded, where the stations, and how to adjust his speed so as to stop just at the right time and place. He must have ears and eyes and thoughts all and always alert. He must not merely, like Davy Crockett, be sure he is right and then go ahead, but be sure while he is going ahead. He must look out not only for himself, but for others as well, and never can be certain that the switchmen, on whose fidelity his life and the lives of all his passengers depend, have done their duty until he has safely passed the crossing or the siding. In short, it is not only true of him that there is always but a step between him and death, but it is always also a step of one who is traveling thirty miles an hour. He must be a practical mechanic, and be able to repair a break in his engine without adequate tools. He must be a man of iron will, able to withstand every influence and pressure in times of difficulty. An express train on a single-track railroad comes to a station. It is here to pass a down express on the same road. It is winter. Both trains are behind time. The time-table gives the right of way to the up train, but requires "caution." The word is a vague one, and capable of various constructions. The engineer resolves to wait where he is. The uneasy passengers wish him to go on. Delegation after delegation urge him to do so. At length a telegram is received. It reads simply, "Come ahead." It is neither signed nor dated. The obstinate engineer will not budge. The passengers hold an indignation meeting. Resolutions are reported and carried, to be presented to the president of the road. And just as the meeting is adjourning down comes an extra engine, carrying no light, and running at sixty miles an hour, to get doctors to attend the wounded on a "smash up" of the down express eleven miles above. The obstinacy of the engineer in giving a rigid construction to the one word "caution" has saved the company another smash up, and the doctors more patients. The thoughtful traveler will probably recollect more than one instance in which the unreasonable public has similarly berated a delaying train, and yet would have been equally quick to denounce the careless engineer if he had yielded to its own unreasonable demands.

Scarcely less important in the management of the train than the engineer is the conductor. He is the captain: of all but the engine. He must be a good judge of human nature, know how to be quick and yet courteous, firm and yet affable. He must be able to detect the difference between the real unfortunate who has lost his ticket and his purse together, and the railroad swindler who makes a pretense of. loss serve him the purpose of getting many a free ride. He must be equally competent to help out with all her bundles the anxious lady from Pumpkinville, who has never ridden in the cars before, and quick to eject the brazen-faced defrauder who has no ticket, and no notion of paying for one. He must be brave, for his courage is often tested; forbearing, for his patience is sorely tried; and faithful, because great trust is reposed in him. He must have some practical knowledge to help him with expedients when accidents occur, a ready judgment and nerve to act promptly in time of danger. He must see that no time is lost at stations, carrying his timetable in his head, and never misrecollecting its figures; have at his fingers' ends all the intricate system of rules and regulations issued by his superiors; keep on good terms with his engineer and his brakemen, and control the latter without seeming to do so. He must have an eye to the condition of the track, the trestles, bridges, culverts, and embankments; must keep in mind and under examination the brakes, couplings, and bell-ropes of his cars; must inspect his train before starting, to see that his cars have been carefully swept and dusted; must know that his watch accords with railroad time; must be sure before starting that he is properly provided with flags, signal-lamps, torpedoes, links, and pins. He must keep on the alert for signals from the engineer, and from stations on his route. He must keep in mind his passengers, see that they got out at their right stations, or take their maledictions in recompense for their own ignorance or inattention. He must take up all tickets, and often must go through a long train twenty or thirty times on each trip to make sure of the tickets of his way-passengers. He must get out at every station, see his passengers all off, and signal the train to proceed, being always in time and never in haste. He must have plenty of leisure to answer all the questions and respond to all the complaints which curious or captious passengers have to prefer; and he must keep a perfect account and render a perfect report of all tickets and fares collected. In brief, the combined duties of captain, clerk, and steward of a steam-ship fall upon the conductor of a first-class passenger express. He travels usually from one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles a day, often including the Sabbath, and his compensation reaches the enormous sum of $1200 per year!

Since the invention of the Westinghouse air brake the office of the brakeman has sensibly decreased in importance. This brake is operated by compressed air, which is driven through tubes beneath the cars by the steam from the engine. These tubes are coupled when the train is made up. The whole is operated as one brake from the engine by the fireman. It places the whole train completely under the engineer's control. The through fast express trains on our great trunk roads are now, we believe, generally supplied with this contrivance. But the train can not spare the brakeman. He stuffs fuel into the stove at the request of the passenger who is too cold, and opens the window at the request of the passenger who is too hot. He unlocks the seat and turns it over for the mother who wants to convert it into a lounge for her tired child to sleep on. He opens the door and shouts in stentorian tones some unintelligible words at the approach to every station. He occasionally makes announcements, but as he usually does this when the train is in full motion, and as he has never been taught to articulate very distinctly, the passenger who is curious to know the meaning of his address has always to ask for its private repetition. He is always on hand to help passengers off the platform. Of men he is decidedly oblivious; he is a ladies' man, and the assiduity of his attentions is generally in the direct ratio of their youth and beauty. When he can inveigle a young lady on to the platform before the train has quite reached a stop, and can protect her from falling by gently encircling her waist with his strong arm, he is perfectly happy. A virtuous brakeman is never without his reward.

The freight brakeman has duties more arduous and dangerous. Mr. Taylor says that there are reputed to be five hundred distinct car couplings for which patents have been obtained, or at least sought. But as yet the coupling of freight cars is done by hand, and: this duty devolves upon the brakeman. Balancing the pin over the end of the bar through which it is to be dropped to perfect the coupling, he awaits with composure the coming together of the cars. Leaning over the track, be supports the link or bar in one hand, and holds the pin in the other. When the cars come together with force, and continue on their way for some yards, the brakeman who is performing the coupling is for a moment lost to sight. It may be that he will directly step out, vigorously crying, "All right—go ahead!" It may be that he will have fallen beneath the wheels, one more victim to the present rude and cruel method of freight car coupling. We repeat here and emphasize the demand of Mr. Taylor for reform in this matter. "It is high time that some steps were taken to lessen the number of shocking casualties from car couplings which are recorded with such monotonous frequency in the daily newspapers. If the railroads will take no concerted action in the matter, it will be the duty of the State Legislatures to compel railroad corporations to make use of better and safer methods of coupling cars than many of them now do. This would, of course, be attended with some inconvenience, but it would save the lives of hundreds of railroad employees." We may add that the radical cause, probably, of this neglect is the fact that the lives of railroad employees are inexpensive. The railroad corporation is held responsible for all accidents, occasioned by its negligence, to its passengers, but a rule of law, which certainly in this instance works with apparent injustice, renders them exempt from damages in the case of injuries to employees. So long as brakes cost more than brakemen we may expect the present sacrificial method of car coupling to be continued.

These are the officials on the train—the conductor, engineer, fireman, and brakeman; for the express agent and water-boy and newspaper vendor can hardly be entitled as train officials; and the baggage-master, though an important personage, as the bride discovers when at the end of her journey her trunk is not forth-coming, has really nothing to do with the conduct or management of the train. But not more on a conductor or engineer does the safety of a train depend than on the switch-tender. Of these there are on the Erie Railway three hundred and fifty. If on any of our railroads one of these switch-tenders falls of his duty, sleeps at his post, mistakes his instructions, forgets or misplaces a switch, blunders through heedlessness, or blunders through what is quite as common a cause of accident, excessive care and anxiety, the result may be a terrible accident—a train off the track, a collision, or a precipitation into an open draw. Literally the movement of a rail an inch one way or the other is all that saves every express train from destruction, and this not merely at one point on the line, but at every station and side track. And these switches are generally presided over by Irishmen, whose average wages are a dollar and three-quarters per day. No wonder that misplaced switches are the most prolific of all causes of accidents.

Take your stand for an hour in the yard of one of our great railway stations; watch the switchman on duty; observe the rapidity of his movements, and their constancy. As the trains and engines pass, sometimes crowding in close proximity upon each other, see him guide each one by his lever to its appropriate place: sending this train down a side track, opening the way for that train to pass up upon another siding, now letting a single engine run down the track for a freight car, now switching off a long freight train to a remote quarter of the great yard, and all the time keeping in mind the through passenger trains which come thundering by in either direction, and which depend on his memory and movements for a clear track. Mr. Taylor pictures his perplexity in this sketch of the switch-tender's soliloquy:

"Let's see. Excursion train's due at 4:45, and it ain't in. There's the accommodation whistling like mad, though before that there was the mixed. No! That must have been the Blue Line freight. No! That was a stock train. No, it warn't, neither; that was the empties. This is the oil train; I can smell it; and right in the way of the express; and dam me if I know which track she's on."

It has been said that quite as common a cause of accident as carelessness is excessive care. We believe that railroad men will bear out this assertion. For generally the responsibility put upon the switch-tender is too great for his capacity. He can not bear it, feels that he can not bear it, is oppressed by the sense of its weight. So long as everything goes smoothly and regularly, he performs his part in the great machine. But any sudden exigency throws his mind into a whirl; he can no longer think; he knows that the lives of a hundred passengers depend on his actions; there is but one instant to decide and to act; and he does the very thing which produces the disaster against which he meant to guard.

"I was standing," says a railroad superintendent, "near a switch-tender who, had been twenty years in our employ. He was steady as the day is long, was religious, conscientious, and a total abstainer. He did not know that I was near. He turned his switch for the freight train to pass upon the side track, then turned it back for an approaching express. When the whistle sounded, announcing the approach of the train, he went deliberately to his switch, and turned it back, so that the lightning express must have inevitably dashed right into the waiting freight train. I yelled with all my might, 'Reverse your switch!' He sprang to the handle, and reversed it; he had not a second to spare; the train flew by with the velocity of light, and was out of sight and hearing in a moment. The man could give subsequently no account of his conduct. When the whistle sounded an impulse seized him to turn the switch, and he did so instantly, under an impression that the switch was wrong.

How many times, reader, have you gone to bed and forgotten to wind up your watch, and never discovered your neglect until you found it run down the next morning? How many times have you wound it up so mechanically and unconsciously that five minutes later you have taken it out of your pocket to repeat the operation? What we do habitually and mechanically we are apt to do without thought, and also to forget to do. When the switch-tender repeats with his switch your blunder with your watch, the result is often a terrible railroad accident. When I consider what an army of switch-tenders is employed on the 65,000 miles of American railway, I wonder that the misplaced switches and the consequent railway disasters are not more common.

Scarcely more important, although a vastly more dignified and better paid official, is the train-dispatcher—more important in that engineers and switchmen and conductors are subject to his orders. On certain roads his duties are united with those of the division superintendent. He is to the road what the officer of the deck is to the ship. On a double-track road trains can to a large extent be run by a time-table and general directions, but on a single-track road every delay calls at once for orders from head-quarters. It is on the single-track road that the train-dispatcher's functions are at once the most important and the most perplexing.

Each dispatcher's section is from fifty to one hundred miles in length, according to the number of trains running, difficulty of working, etc. Where continual day and night work is required there are three dispatchers to each section, who work each eight hours. The department is administered by telegraph. So long as every thing is on time, and there are no extras, specials, or "wild-cats,'' the train-dispatcher has nothing to do. But the first delay or difficulty is the beginning of a tangle which he must unravel. Snows, storms, fogs, accidents, delays on other roads, may sometimes all combine to make confusion worse confounded. Catamount has jumped the track, and is in the way of the down express; Zebra is stalled on the grade outside the yard with a heavy freight train; Hippopotamus is out of water; Snorter has blown off a, steam-chest cover; Fly has burst a flue; the Lightning is twenty minutes behind time, and Whirlwind is waiting for her at C station. The train-dispatcher must have before him a perfect mental map of the road in this abnormal condition. He telegraphs the Lightning to go on to D, and wait for Whirlwind there; he telegraphs to Whirlwind to push on to D, and pass Lightning there; he telegraphs to station agent at D both the orders; he sends an extra engine out to give Zebra a push up the heavy grade; he summons a force from the repair shop to go to the assistance of Snorter; and he issues cautions all around of the accident to Catamount. In all these cross and complicated arrangements he must keep in mind the siding accommodations at various points, so as not to got more trains together than he can get out again without delay; make allowance for the weight of trains and the power of their respective engines; remember the state of the rails, whether slippery or not; not forget the grades and all local peculiarities; keep himself informed moment by moment of the status of the road, for the trains are always in motion, and changing their relative position all the time; study to save the time of the passengers at the loss of freight time, and the time of stock trains at the loss of dead freight. He keeps a record of every movement, and at the end of his watch passes along both the complications he has cured and those he has created to his successor, to be dealt with in similar fashion. In the train-dispatcher's office the motto of the republic, slightly altered, might be appropriately framed and hung—Eternal vigilance is the price of safety.

Of the other subordinate officials who contribute to the care and comfort of the passenger, the station-master, the ticket agent, the baggage-master, the sleeping car conductor, the porters, we shall not attempt to speak. Yet we should do a manifest injustice to our theme did we not at least remind our reader of two features of the American railway system—through tickets and through checks.

By an admirably adapted system the American traveler may now purchase a ticket at any of our great stations for almost any other station, and by almost any combination of routes he chooses. The tickets are handed to him in. a long line of separate yet connected bits of cardboard, good for a ride over a portion of his chosen route. On most through lines his ticket is good until he uses it. It is good for him or any one to whom he chooses to sell it. He may go halfway on his journey, stop, make a visit of six months and then complete his trip. Each ticket bears on its face a mark indicating by what railroad it was sold, who therefore has received the money. At certain stated times these tickets are carried by the roads that have taken them up to the roads that have sold them, and are turned in as so much cash. A balance is struck, and the road that is debtor pays its balance. In England there is a regular clearing-house established for the transfer and settlement of these complicated accounts. The freight accounts are yet more complicated. Freight is carried without breaking bulk from New York to Chicago or St. Louis. It goes in a car of one company, and is drawn over the road of three or four others. One company receives the full amount of freight from the merchant. It must divide, according to a settled system, the sum between all the companies engaged in the carrying process. The system of railroad accounts is as intricate and involved as that of the largest banks. Indeed, it is doubtful whether any other financial concern in the country, except perhaps the United States Treasury Department, has the handling of so much money, or so perplexing and difficult a system of account book-keeping to maintain. The auditing department of the Erie Railway occupies the whole upper story of its immense building on the corner of Twenty-third Street and Eighth Avenue.

The through checks are equally convenient. When the traveler has once a little piece of brass in his pocket, he may dismiss his luggage from his mind. For this piece of brass is the company's receipt for his trunk, and the corporation is thenceforth responsible for its safe carriage and its ultimate return at the end of the journey. The trunk passes over half a dozen different lines. It is registered in as many different books by depot and baggage masters. The story of its journey is written all along the road. And if by any rare mischance it miscarries, the probabilities are always in favor of speedily finding it again. We say rare mischance; for the system of checking baggage has reached such perfection in America that it is our strong conviction that miscarriage of checked trunks is rarer than the miscarriage of letters by the Post-Office Department. There is no such system of checking baggage on the European roads. The traveler, like the elephant, must take care of his own trunk. But life has its compensations. In Europe ladies travel with valises. Saratoga trunks are unknown.

As I have omitted all attempt to describe in detail the duties of certain of the subordinate officials, so I make no attempt to portray the life of the chiefs of a great railroad. There is ordinarily a general ticket or passenger agent, to whom all local ticket agents are responsible, before whom come, in the first instance, all complaints of passengers, all grumbling of commuters, all applications from local communities for changes in trains, and all applications for passes-and they are legion. There is a general freight agent, to whom is referred the general direction of all matters connected directly with the freighting business of the road. There is a general superintendent or vice-president, for sometimes the latter fulfills the duties of the former officer, who is the chief executive officer, so far as the working of the road is concerned, who holds in his hands all the threads which in this article we have attempted to trace. He must know how conductors and engineers and train-dispatchers and station agents and baggage-masters all fulfill their duties; he must investigate every accident and determine its true cause; he must be able to administer without fear and without favor, and be equally ready to save an honest official from the indignation of an unreasonable public, or to sacrifice a favorite and friend when just cause of complaint is shown against him; through the reports of others and his own not infrequent inspection, he must keep himself acquainted with the condition of the road-its rails, its trestles, its bridges, its culverts, its stations, its cars, its engines—and not wait until some dreadful calamity discloses a rottenness which his lynx eyes ought to have discovered. Finally, there is the president, who must above all things know the stock market and the secret railroad combinations, must be ready to combine with rivals or defy them, to compromise with Legislatures or to fight them, to meet the bulls to-day and the bears to-morrow on the street, and with all this to be the true captain of a ship which stretches across a State, from the Atlantic to the lakes, with a crew large enough to equip a navy; the housekeeper of a living and throbbing house, with fifteen thousand -servants, not more than a score of whom he knows by name, and not more than a hundred of whom he has ever seen. Railroad kings we call them, and not inaptly; for de executive genius of a Caesar, a Charlemagne, a Peter the Great, or a Frederick would find abundant opportunity for its fullest exercise in maintaining, operating, and extending a great American railway.


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