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100 Years Ago: April 1923


This is the 99th entry in my series issue rewrites of 100-year-old National Geographic Magazines spanning 100 months.  (One entry is for a double issue: Nov-Dec 1917.)



The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “Massachusetts and Its Position in the Life of the Nation” and was written by Calvin Coolidge, Vice-President of the United States.  The article contains nine black-and-white photographs, five of which are full-page in size.  The article is comprised of text from an address delivered before the National Geographic Society, in Washington, D. C., on February 2, 1923.

The place of Massachusetts in the life of the nation had been made by continuing adherence to fundamental principles.  That unchanging attitude raised her to primacy in the long struggle for individual liberty and local self-government.  The background of her early people peculiarly fitted them for that leadership.  The Pilgrims and Puritans did not come hither empty-handed.  They brought with them a perfected conception of rational liberty under the orderly process of public law.  They had a clear idea of established rights, duly defined, and recorded.  The rights they claimed had been established into the statute law of the realm.  It carried the approbation and authority of a long line of judicial decisions.  Law was not enough, for those rights were gained through the unalterable convictions of a great people, who had the courage and genius to make whatever sacrifice was necessary to follow right and truth to their logical conclusions.  Those founding fathers came of a race which was not without conception of the supremacy of the people.  They had a clear idea of chartered liberty.  They understood the principle of parliamentary government and royal authority acting within definite limitations.  They were familiar with the jury system and enforcement of civil and criminal liabilities in accordance with existing laws.  The immediate cause of the settlement of Massachusetts was a profound religious movement.  In the age of Elizabeth, England became a country of one book, the Bible.  When the people took that book into their hands, the right of personal judgement in matters of religion became established, and from that there was derived the principle of personal judgement in matters of government.  The conclusion of the whole matter was individual liberty.  That did not occur all at once.  Toleration was not a self-evident truth.  Whenever power was lodged in a monarch, he always sought to extend it by encroachment upon the liberties of the people.

When the more advanced of the Puritans sought to put their principle of freedom into practical effect by separation from the established church, they were met by the threat of the king that he would make them conform or he would harry them out of the land.  In that threat laid the foundation of Massachusetts.  That little band sought refuge in Holland, where, under the protection of William the Silent, the conscience of man was free.  Their pastor, John Robinson said, “The people are industrious and frugal.  We are knit together as a body in a most sacred covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we hold ourselves strictly tied to all care of each other’s good and of the whole by everyone, and so mutually.  It is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage.”  In that simple statement was to be found the principle of prosperity, responsibility, and social welfare, all based on religion.  A pride of race and of language determined them to seek out a location for themselves where they would be equally free and where they would not be in jeopardy of losing their identity through being absorbed in an overwhelming mass of people.  They were of humble origin.  The bare necessities of existence had been won by them in a strange country only at the expense of extreme toil and hardship.  They did not shrink from the prospect of a like experience in America.  They left behind their old pastor, John Robinson.  It was such a people, strengthened by such a purpose, obedient to such a message, who set their course in the little Mayflower across the broad Atlantic on the sixth day of September, 1620, old style, which was celebrated under the new calendar as Marne Day.

The country they sought laid around the Delaware River, which was under charter of the London Company, from which they had secured a grant of land.  A providential breeze carried them far to the north, while storms and the frail condition of their ship prevented them from continuing to their destination.  They came to anchor of Provincetown, far outside the jurisdiction of their own patent and the authority of existing laws.  Undismayed, they set about to establish their own institutions and recognize their own civil authority.  Gathering in the narrow cabin of the Mayflower, piously imploring the divine presence, in mutual covenant they acknowledged the power “to enacte, constitute, & frame just & equall lawes, ordinances, actes, constitutions & offices,” to which they pledged “all due submissions & obedience.”  So, there was adopted the famous Mayflower Compact.  It did not, in form, establish a government, but it declared the authority to establish a government, the power to make laws, and the duty to obey them.  Beyond that, it proclaimed the principle of democracy.  The powers which they proposed to exercise arose directly from the express consent of all the governed.  The document was dated November 11, 1620.  Such was the beginning of Massachusetts, men and women humble in position, and few in number.  They were soon to be reinforced by the great Puritan migration, which established a vigorous colony at their north, known as the Company of Massachusetts Bay.  It was among them that there was worked out more in detail the fundamental institutions of the old Commonwealth.  They had a royal charter, granted in 1629, which provided for a Governor, a Deputy Governor, and a Council of eighteen Assistants, annually to be chosen by the Company.  They were likewise given authority to make laws for the government of the settlers, provided they did not conflict with those of England.  There, there came into existence the frame of a miniature.

One of the main objects of that movement was to provide a retreat for those of Puritan faith in case they were overwhelmed at home by the rising tide of despotism of Charles the First.  For that purpose, men of such prominence as Winthrop and Dudley and their associates came to the new colony, transferring with them the location of the government.  Congregations and clergymen followed.  With the arrival of thousands of people, churches and towns were established and there began the making of American constitutional history.  Those people were the Puritans.  Their prime motive was self-mastery.  The them the great reality was the unseen world.  It was those people, moved by such convictions, that from the day of her settlement guaranteed that Massachusetts should be grandly placed in history.  The Puritan spirit had always worked toward freedom and independence in all things.  The Puritans cherished as their immediate purpose not a broad latitude in either religious or political life.  Their chief thought was to escape from the intolerable tyranny of Charles and the Laud.  If they were to maintain their safety against the Indians, or their freedom against the King, it was necessary to maintain solidarity in all things.  They could not tolerate those who would set over them a tyranny in church or state, or those who would divide and weaken them.  When to the colony toleration meant extermination, they rejected it, but they held to principles, which, when they had the strength broadly to apply them, led to greater and greater freedom.  The leading clergy and many Puritans belonged to the established church, yet on reaching Massachusetts they naturally became separatists under the Congregational form of church government.  Religion was their first thought.  They at once built places of worship and formed church societies on the principle that each congregation was free and independent.

While the early magistrates and clergy were divided between the principle of aristocracy and democracy in the government of church and state, the people themselves held to the principle of democracy with a sturdy and unswerving tenacity.  Governor Winthrop and the most eminent clergyman of the Colony, John Cotton, viewed democracy as an unfit form of government. Those views were balanced by such men as Sir Harry Vane, who was chosen Governor in 1636.  Of like mind was Thomas Hooker, pastor of the church at Cambridge.  It was he and his congregation which moved through the wilderness to establish Hartford.  His doctrine that “the foundation of authority is laid, firstly in the free consent of the people” was recognized and established in the free republic under a written constitution of the Colony of Connecticut.  Such was the first offspring of the Puritan spirit of Massachusetts.  It was possessed of a vitality capable of creating a political structure of great strength wherever it might go.  The democratic attitude of the people was very early apparent.  The freemen of the colony at first undertook in public meetings to administer its affairs.  When numbers made that impossible, the authority was lodged with the Board of Assistants to make laws and elect a Governor.  In 1631, the inhabitants of Watertown refused to pay a small tax levied for public defense.  The result of the agitation which then arose restored to the freemen the right to elect the Governor and gave the settlements the right to choose their own deputies toa general court.  As early as 1644, those deputies withdrew from the assistants and formed a second house, becoming a coordinated branch of the legislature.  Thus, the principle of representative government was developed at once for the purpose of safeguarding the liberties of the people.  From that day on, it had been the chief repository of government power in Massachusetts.  For a period of more than fifty years the Commonwealth was administered under that liberal charter.

The church having been formed and the government organized, the next thought was of education.  In 1636 the General Court voted that it “agrees to give four hundred pounds toward a school or college.  That assembly was the first body in which the people, by their representatives, ever gave their own money to found a place of learning.  Two years later, the legacy of a library and seven hundred pounds from John Harvard determined the name of the college.  The charter of the people, their government, their church, their school, all contributed to a great intellectual awakening which was to result in a greater advance and more progress than the human race had ever before accomplished in the same length of time.  Political and theological discussion went on, liberality grew, the franchise was broadened.  Under the Halfway Covenant, the right to vote was extended to those who had been baptized and conducted themselves with propriety, even though they were not communicants.  The Old South Church was created as a monument to that liberal principle.  Within its walls many a patriot meeting had been held and many a patriot voice had been raised in defense of the rights of the people.  From the earliest settlement, every court, council, and town meeting were open to every inhabitant, whether he held franchise or not.  He had the right to appear in person, present his case, and secure a decision.  Local self-government was administered through the town meeting, where the freemen met on terms of equality, a great practical example of democracy.   It was out of all that discussion that there was continued the determination to be free.  That determination was strong enough to engage in active preparation for open resistance against the tyranny of Andros when it became apparent that what Charles the second had done in England he proposed to do in America.

The charter was revoked, self-government ceased, people were imprisoned, congregations were dispossessed, property confiscated, and arbitrary political and ecclesiastic rule was established.  At last, a signal fire shone from Beacon Hill, the drums beat, the people rose, Andros was arrested, and a successful revolution was accomplished which only the accession of William and Mary brought to an end.  But that lesson the people never forgot and the same discussion went on.  Such was the preparation for the Revolutionary War, inevitable after the power of France in America had been broken by Wolfe upon the Plains of Abraham.  The people of Massachusetts believed in principles, but they were a practical people; they always translated theory into action.  This time, it was not a watchfire on Beacon Hill, but the lantern in the belfry of the Old North Church that was the signal which brought the men of Massachusetts with arms in their hands to defend their liberties.  How far the people of the Commonwealth had advanced between 1620 and the days of the Revolution was indicated by the difference between the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Rights and the Frame of Government, which was the title of the Constitution adopted in 1780.  Article I declared that all men were free and equal.  Article II guarantied religious freedom.  Article X asserted the protection of life, liberty, and property by the government.  Article XXIX proclaimed the right to trial by impartial judges.  Article XXX decreed the separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments.  In between was asserted the sovereignty of the people, the liberty of speech and of the press, the right to trial by jury, and the duty of providing education, together with other guarantees of freedom.

We had come to think of all those principles as natural and self-evident.  It was well to remember that we were in the enjoyment of them by reason of age-old effort and the constant sacrifice of treasure and of blood finally wrought into standing law.  All of that had been the inevitable outcome of the belief of the Puritans in the rights of the individual.  That required education, and the first public school was opened in Boston in 1635.  In 1647 the General Court enjoined each town of fifty householders to have a primary school and each of one hundred families a grammar school.  In 1839 a State Normal School was opened, and Massachusetts was the first to have a State Board of Education.  The same ideal that educated the mind protected the health and regulated industrial conditions.  In 1836 the first Child Labor Law was passed.  In 1842 combinations of workmen made for the purpose for the purpose of improving their conditions were declared lawful.  In 1867 factory inspection was begun.  The year 1869 saw the first Railroad Commission and the beginning of a State Board of Arbitration.  It was in Massachusetts that there was established the first State Board of Health, the first State Board of Charities, the first State Department of Insurance, the first Minimum Wage Law for women and children, and the first State Sanitorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.  Massachusetts had been the location of an enormous industrial development.  It was claimed that the first agricultural show was held there.  It was the home of the Baldwin apple and the Concord grape.  There, the first railroad was built.  Four important inventions were created there – the telephone by Bell, the telegraph by Morse, the sewing machine by Howe, and the cotton gin by Whitney.  Inoculation was first used there by Boylston, and the first use ether was made in one of her hospitals.  There, was the greatest fish market, leather market, wool market, and the principal center to produce textile machinery, boots and shoes, cotton, woolen, and worsted goods, paper, and the greatest worsted, cordage, and shoe machinery mills in the world.

Massachusetts had contributed men of great eminence to all the learned professions.  Jonathan Edwards preached there; Benjamin Franklin was born there.  It had had such scientist as Agassiz and Gray, such preachers as Channing, Parker, Brooks, and Moody.  In literature it carried such names as Emerson, Hawthorne, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Everett, Phillips, and Julia Ward Howe; in art, Sargent, Whistler, Stuart, Bullfinch, Copley, and Hunt.  Among its lawyers were Story, Cushing, Shaw, Choate, Webster, and Parsons.  Among its statesmen had been the Adamses, Webster, Sumner, Wilson, and Hoar.  Samuel Webster and Jonathan Smith swung a hostile convention to the ratification of the Federal Constitution.  Manasseh Cutler, a clergyman from Ipswich, drafted the Ordinance of 1787 which ultimately led to the ending of slavery.  The Commonwealth had furnished pioneers who had gone everywhere.  General Rufus Putnam planned the settlement of southern Ohio; Marshall Field became the great merchant of Chicago; five students of Williams College laid the foundation of American foreign missions; Peter Parker established the first hospital in China; Garrison was an abolitionist; Clara Barton founded the Red Cross; Mary Lyon led the way at Mount Holyoke to higher education of women; and Horace Man was the foremost in the training of teachers for the public schools.  For more than three hundred years there had gone out an influence from Massachusetts that had touched all shores, influenced all modes of thought, and modified all governments.  Garfield and Lincoln came from Massachusetts stock.

From the earliest days the people had exhibited a high capacity both for civil and religious government.  In 1630 the first general court ever held on this side of the Atlantic assembled at Boston.  In 1637 the first General Council of Churches was held in Cambridge.  In 1641 a code of law for the Colony, known as the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, was adopted, forbidding bond slavery.  In 1643 the New England Confederation was formed.  It was a league and not a federacy, but it showed distinctly the national tendency.  In 1646 there was convened a church synod which adopted the Cambridge platform.  Under its terms the churches of New England were governed for a long time.  All of those were expressions of the fundamental principles of government, not yet in the form of a finished product, by sufficiently explicit to rank with the great charters of history.  What an important influence the church and clergymen were in the early life was apparent at every turn.  From Robinson, who stayed in England, to Hooker in Cambridge and later Hartford, and to Shepard, who succeeded him, we owe much.  Whenever a town meeting was held, whenever a legislature convened, whenever a schoolhouse was opened, the moral power of those men was felt.  The Puritan was ever intent upon supporting democracy by learning, and the authority of the state by righteousness.  It was on the soil of Massachusetts that there first met in unmistakable armed conflict the forces of King George and the forces of the colonies at the opening of the Revolutionary War.  That day marked Concord and Lexington, soon to be followed by Bunker Hill.  It was under the elm tree at Cambridge, a few days following, that General Washington formally took command of the first patriot army.  Soldiers from Massachusetts had fought for Washington and Lincoln; and they had served in Cuba and in France.

In the works of humanity there had been a like promptness.  When flood, fire, earthquake, or other calamity had fallen upon a community, relief and charity had been quick to flow from Massachusetts.  When Halifax was rocked by an explosion, before other relief could respond.  Massachusetts was on the spot with medical skills and supplies, and emergency workers.  The contribution which Massachusetts had made had been on the side of practical affairs.  It had been a demonstration of the method through which the power of intelligence and wealth were to be dedicated to the public service.  Always the end in view had been the welfare of the people.  In that, there was no class distinction.  That principle had been applied educationally, industrially, and humanely.  It had given not only cultural training, but professional, technical, agricultural, and trade schools; it had used the wealth created in industry not merely to heap up treasure for the few, but to provide safe and healthful conditions of employment and reasonable wages, through a Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, for the many.  While there had come to the sons of the Puritans that progress which resulted from science and great material resources, their supreme choice was still made in favor of a greater power.  The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently [in 1923] announced the faith that was dominant still.  “Mere intellectual power,” the decision ran, “and scientific achievement without uprightness of character may be more harmful than ignorance.  Highly trained intelligence, combined with disregard of fundamental virtues, is a menace.”  Above all else, the people still put their faith in character.  The word Massachusetts had never been used to utter a narrow or provincial view.  It was because Plymouth Rock, Bunker Hill, John Adams, and Daniel Webster represented their nation that they glorified their State.  In that faith Massachusetts still lived.



The second article in this month’s issue is entitled “America’s Amazing Railway Traffic” and was written by William Joseph Showalter, author of “The Panama Canal,” “How the World is Fed,” “Industry’s Greatest Asset – Steel,” “Coal – Ally of American Industry,” etc. in the National Geographic Magazine.  The article contains forty-six black-and-white photographs, of which twenty-one are full-page in size.  The article also contains a sketch map on page 360 showing American railroad engines and cars end to end.

Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

In their role as arteries of commerce, the railroads of the U. S. carried the lifeblood of trade to the ends of the nation.  So great was that task that it was difficult to get an adequate picture of it.  Train-miles, car-miles, passenger-miles, and ton miles expanded into millions and billions so rapidly that it was difficult to reduce them to terms within the grasp of laymen.  Counting all sidings, yards, and multiple tracks, there were approximately 375,000 miles of track in the U. S.  Some two decades prior, the freight traffic of the country had grown so heavy that curves and grades regarded as inconsiderable in the first half century of American railroading became serious obstructions to the free movement of traffic under 20th century conditions.  All over the U. S., one saw traces of abandoned rights of way, meandering here and there.  Tens of thousands of miles of railways had to be rebuilt to meet the nation’s demand for better freight and passenger facilities.  With the abandonment of those early railroads had come the splendid multiple-track highways, without which the current volume of traffic cold not have been handled.  A typical case was the Lackawanna.  That road was first built a half a century prior, as a coal-carrier between Scranton and New York.  Money was not plentiful in those days; so many a compromise with grades and curves had to be made.  But a day dawned when the Lackawanna saw that if it were to compete with other companies it must have scores of grades and curves ironed out.  One stretch of road which meandered for 39½ miles, was replaced by one only three miles longer than airline distance, shortening the route by 11 miles and shortening the schedule of passenger trains by 20 minutes.

The main line between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was about the last word in grade and curve reduction, so far as passenger trains went.  But such a tremendous freight traffic as the Pennsylvania handled eastward called for even better grades than the main line offered.  The traffic from East to West was so much lighter than the movement from West to East that the engineers conceded much to the westward grades.  So, it was decided to build a low-grade freight line from Pittsburgh to New York.  That line was in operation in 1923, except for 23 miles over the Allegheny Mountains, where the grade was 52.8 feet per mile.  Its steepest grade in the path of eastbound traffic was only 17 feet to the mile.  Pennsylvania had for some time studied the question of electrifying that heavy grade over the mountains which included the famous “Horseshoe Curve.”  When the Union Pacific was building its line toward the Golden Gate, the Great Salt Lake laid across its path.  In those days it did what any other railroad would have done – it made a detour.  That detour became a nightmare to management several decades later, for it added 44 miles to the journey from Omaha to San Francisco, made every train lift itself an unnecessary 1,500 feet, and force all trains to follow needless curves equivalent to 10 full circles.  So, the Lucin Cut-Off across the Great Salt Lake, costing $10,000,000, was built.  It proved a goo investment for it saved some two hours of precious time and millions of dollars in operating expenses.  The Canadian Pacific, which crossed the State of Maine, had been one of the roads to modernize its pioneering lines in many places, particularly in the Rockies and the Selkirks.  In the region of Kicking Horse River in the Rockies there was a heavy grade more than four miles long, with a rise of 237.6 feet to the mile.  To overcome those difficulties, the Canadian Pacific decided to build two spiral tunnels.  The first of those “corkscrew” bores was 3,200 feet long under Cathedral Mountain.  After emerging, the train crossed the Kicking Horse River, then it entered a second spiral tunnel then headed west again.

The Grand Trunk, in order to command its share in the through business from Chicago to the East, had to find a way to eliminate the river difficulties at Detroit.  The St. Clair River connecting Lake Huron and Lake Ontario was there about a half mile wide.  Bridging it was out of the question.  Hence the railway officials decided to tunnel under the river.  Steam engines proved unsatisfactory, so the tunnel was electrified.  Most roads in 1923 were old ones transformed by extensions and relocations, but once in a while a new line was built without any limitations imposed by former conditions.  Such a railway was the Virginian, extending from Deepwater, West Virginia, to Sewalls Point, Virginia – a coal road pure and simple.  It had a stretch of 11 miles where the eastbound grade was over 100 feet per mile.  The largest locomotives in the world acted as pushers and raised the 80-car train intact over the crest of the line.  The rolling stock of all the railroads in the U. S. consisted of 2,348.000 freight cars, 65,000 locomotives, and 53,000 passenger cars.  The author visualized those units connected into a single train.  He used a map, shown on page 360, to show it stretching from the Cape of Good Hope across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and reaching just 1,200 miles shy of Cape Horn.  The work of an average freight locomotive was no light chore.  Its job was to haul a 1,300-ton train 56½ miles each day.  Hauling such a train, rain or shine, warm weather or cold, over heavy grades and around sharp curves, took a heavy toll out of the engine’s frame.  As a result, a full quarter of its operating life was spent under repair or waiting to be used.  When one looks at the energy extracted from a pound of coal, the steam engine looked wasteful, for only about one-twentieth of that energy was transformed into drawbar pull.  But the freight engine was able to move 10 tons of train a full mile for each cent’s worth of coal burned.

There were several hundred electric locomotives in operation in the U. S. Their use was born out of necessity.  When the b. & O. wanted to burrow under Baltimore, coal-burning locomotives seemed out of the question for a tunnel so long.  So, an electric substitute was created.  It showed such good results that one railroad after another tried electrified tunnels, uniformly with success.  Finally, the Pennsylvania and the New York Central decided to build vast terminals in New York City into which no steam locomotive was admitted.  The electric engine’s cleanness made possible under-the-river tunnels in case of the Pennsylvania, and a two-level track layout in the case of the New York Central.  Wherever electricity was available, electric engines outperformed their steam-powered cousins.  In the matter of cleanness and economics, every test showed in electricity’s favor.  So, the Pennsylvania, the New York Central, and the New Haven electrified their suburban lines.  Seeing the striking results around New York, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co. gave the electric engine a tryout on a long stretch of its transcontinental line.  It first electrified a division extending from Harlowton, Montana, to Avery, Idaho, a distance of 440 miles.  That section crossed the three ridges of the Rocky Mountains, and at one place climbed to 6,300 feet.  When put to work hauling trains over that section, the electric locomotives began to show their real mettle.  Their performance astonished even electricity’s chief supporters.  The railroad company found it could operate its trains much more efficiently with 42 electrics than with 112 steam-engines.  With electrics it was able to increase the length of each train by a fifth, reducing the number of trains required.  Likewise, run time was cut down by a fifth.  The electrics increased the capacity of a single-track railroad to a point approaching the double-track capacity under steam operation.

Not only did the big motors demonstrate their power to pull trains up 2% grades that would break a steam locomotive’s heart, and at speeds that even three of the latter could not maintain, but when they got to the top of the mountain they taught a new lesson – superior efficiency in climbing down again.  Being equipped with what were known as “regenerative” brakes, the electric’s motor, by the throw of a switch, was transformed into a dynamo.  The electricity generated was sent back into the transmission lines.  With steam, it was difficult to go down steep grades: brakes overheated, shoes melted.  Steam locomotives took time to stoke up in the roundhouse, and to get up steam; it also burned coal while standing on a side track.  In none of those situations did electrics require any power at all.  Coasting down the mountainside, they paid back a fourth to a half as much as they borrowed to climb the mountain.  Electrics could climb steep grades at 20 miles an hour and go 60 on a level straightaway.  So gratifying was the electrification of the Harlowton-Avery branch to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul authorities that the decided to electrify the line from Seattle to Othello.  That left only a 200-mile stretch to be electrified between the eastern approaches to the Rockies and the Pacific Ocean, and gave the U, S. the longest electric railroad in the world.  The author next described a contest between an electric engine versus two steam locomotives held in Erie, Pennsylvania.  The electric won hands down. The Pennsylvania, the Virginian, and many other lines were reckoning with electrification of busier divisions.  How much the electrification of the railroads of the country would save was shown by an investigation based on the St. Paul’s experience and others to date.  It showed that electricity was produced at 2½ pounds of coal per kilowatt hour, and that 53,000,000 tons were sufficient to produce all the electricity required to move the freight of the U. S. – a savings of 100,000,000 tons a year.  Those figures did not take into account hydroelectric power, which would save even more coal.

With all their lines electrified there would be no reason for the railroads hauling a ton of coal for themselves.  Hundreds of power sites could be developed near the mines.  That would relieve the railroads from transporting about 150,000,000 tons of coal a year, and would save more than 60,000 carloads of freight.  The savings effected if electrification were adopted only on the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Washington was $239,000,000 per annum.  19,000 out of 36,000 miles of track could be profitably electrified, at an annual savings of $81,000,000, on a capital investment of $570,000,000.  In 1923, the average steam locomotive worked eight-hour days, while the average electric was ready for twenty hours a day service.  It was estimated that there would be a doubling of traffic in that zone by 1930, and that electrification would be cheaper than the cost of the facilities needed for steam.  Some roads were beginning to use motor buses with marked success for the transportation of passengers on lines where the traffic was light.  The average freight car ran about 22 miles a day, carries 27.8 tons of freight per load, and secured about 17 loads during the year.  One-third of the 9,200 miles it traveled was as an empty.  There was a freight car for every eight families in America.  Both agriculture and industry owed a debt to the freight train.  What good was a bumper crop without a means of getting it to market?  What good was a factory without the raw materials and fuel the train brought?  In order to obviate the building of large numbers of new freight cars, a national campaign had been started to increase their average daily milage, to add to their average load, and to cut the time they were out of service awaiting and undergoing repairs.  The goal was to reach and average of 30 miles per day, increase the average load by 2.2 tons, and cut down on down time from 7% to 4%. 

The fact was that 13/14’s of a car’s year was spent off the main tracks, either being switched in a yard or being loaded and unloaded.  Of the year, the average car spent fourteen weeks on loading and unloading tracks; six weeks being switched into and out of trains; two weeks awaiting shipping orders; five weeks in the division yards; and nine weeks in delivery from one road to another.  Then there were three weeks more lost by its arrival on Sundays and holidays, and five more in the repair shops.  Slack seasons caused it another two weeks of idleness.  Those items showed forty-six weeks of the year spent off the road.  Of the remaining forty-three days, its time on the road, eleven were counted off  for time spent running empty, and five for delays.  The car was able to spend only 27 days of actual running under load.  Stock cars carried 10 tons of hogs, less than 11 tons of sheep and goats, and less than 12 tons of horses and mules.  Box cars loaded less than 13 tons of hay and straw, cotton, wool, and eggs.  On the other hand, coal cars moved more than 50 tons of bituminous coal, nearly 48 tons of anthracite, and more than 51 tons of iron ore.  It was estimated that by careful scheming the average car’s down-time could be cut to 14 days a year.  If those goals of 30 miles per day, 30 tons per load, and 14 days down time, the additional service it would provide would equal that of 260,000 additional cars.  The additional miles per day would equal 100,000 new cars; the additional tons per day would equal 80,000 new cars; and the reduced down time would yield the same results as 80,000 new cars.  Freight cars had a way of wandering from their own lines and becoming the rail counterparts of tramp steamers.  When demand for cars was acute, it was much cheaper to keep a foreign car than return it.  The per diem charge for a foreign car was one dollar per day.  There were instances of cars wandering around the country for seven years before setting wheels on home rails once more.

The freight car was the Cinderella of the transportation household.  The passenger car flitted about at high speed, day after day, and never would be able to support itself except for the toil of its humble sister.  Passenger trains ran in the red, freight paid the bills.  The average passenger car ran far enough to make two trips around the earth every year.  Some of them ran for a full generation – first in the big express trains, then on main-line locals, and finally out on some “jerkwater” branch or in the dollar-excursion equipment.  In 1919, 1,096,000,000 tons of freight were loaded into cars, and the average ton was hauled 301 miles.  If that was loaded into one string of cars, it would stretch 312,000 miles long.  The author imagined a transcontinental stock yard of 100 lines, packed solid with cars every one filled with products.  Forty of those lines would contain the products of the nation’s mines, 29 with merchandise of its factories, 18 with the commodities that came from its farms, and 11 with forest products.  Under the blessing of adequate transportation, the interchange of products was amazing.  For instance, take so simple a thing as your copy of the National Geographic Magazine.  The paper was made in Massachusetts from pulp-wood grown in Canada, treated with acids coming from half a dozen States, and coated with clays coming from England and Florida.  It was printed with presses made of steel wrought in Pennsylvania, from pig iron extracted in Ohio, with the aid of limestone from Michigan and coal from West Virginia, from ore mined in Minnesota.  The glue for the press rollers was made from goat, cow, and horse skin trimmings from India, China, and South America.  The glue for the cover was manufactured in Pennsylvania from raw materials from Cape Town, Aden, Arabia, and Buenos Aires.  The ink was made of carbon gas black from Louisiana; linseed oil from Minnesota, Argentina, and India; mineral oils from American oil fields; vegetable oils from the cotton belt and China; dryers from Brazil and Canada; dyes from various States; and gums from New Zealand, Dutch East Indies, and the South.  The type metal was made of lead from Missouri, copper from Montana, tin from the Straits Settlement, and antimony from Japan.

With a tremendous export balance and such a large percentage of the country’s population massed along the eastern seaboard, it was inevitable that much more freight had to move eastward than was dispatched westward.  How to keep the car supply adjusted without unnecessary westward movement of empties was one problem, and how to prevent empties from moving eastward after they had discharged their westbound loads was another.  In a recent year the freight trains ran 51,000,000 hours.  Each train ran about 72 miles a day at 10.5 miles an hour, including stops and waits.  The making up and breaking up of the vast number of trains that moved each 24 hours were constantly being accelerated through the installation of improved freight yards.  In one yard, not long ago, 121 eastbound trains, with more than 3,200 cars, and 78 westbound, with 3,600 cars, arrived in 24 hours – a train every 7½ minutes; and those had to be broken up and made over into about as many other trains.  Weather also played its part. On one line 40 miles of telegraph poles were broken down by snow and sleet; most of them falling across the tracks.  On another, every bridge and trestle were carried downstream by an unrelenting downpour.  Snow time was worst of all.  Trains were shortened and the intervals between them cut down.  If the flakes came down too fast, the engines were equipped with ordinary plows, which bucked the drifts and pushed them to one side.  If needed, big rotary plows were used.  They possessed great cutting wheels able to drill a bore whose diameter permitted the passing of a train.  Shoved forward by three engines the rotary plow did its job, eating its way into a big drift.  In the terminals and freight yards, a snowstorm meant frozen frogs and out-of-commission switches.  Recently, experiments were made by installing electric heaters at switches.  It was believed that the day was soon when snow would be deprived of is terrors, so far as terminals were concerned.

The story of the passenger traffic of the U. S. was one of a volume of business no less astonishing in proportions than the freight traffic.  Truly, 1,175,000,000 passengers were an imposing multitude of people.  The aggregated miles they travelled in the U. S. were 46 billion in a normal year.  There was one phase of passenger travel that arrested the attention of everybody – that of the modern passenger station in a major city.  South Station, in Boston, with its 45,000,000 passengers and 196,000 trains a year, held the American record for volume of traffic.  North Station, in the same city, with its 32,000,000 passengers annually, and 400 trains daily, held the record for a station only serving one road.  Union Station, in St. Louis, with 22 roads entering it, held the record for the number of lines served.  No other stations in the world claimed as much interest from the public generally as the Pennsylvania and Grand Central stations, in New York.  The Pennsylvania was the largest terminal under one roof in the world; but the Grand Central, with its two levels, covered double the acreage of the Pennsylvania.  The latter was built as a railroad station pure and simple, while the former was constructed as a real-estate development, which provided every possible convenience, and to surround the station with hotels and office buildings.  The New York Tunnel Extension of the Pennsylvania, with the station, cost about $115,000,000, while the Grand Central cost $75,000,000.  A trip through Grand Central Station was a revelation.  Every day 600 trains arrived and departed; 33,000,000 passengers passed through its portals in a single year.  It was built with an ultimate capacity of upward of 75,000,000 passengers a year.  Its two levels contained 32 miles of terminal tracks.  The main station building had a veritable labyrinth of inside streets and passages lined with shops and stores.  One could, without going out of doors, reach three subways, three hotels, a series of office buildings, and two university club.

The two-story railroad in the terminal was entirely below street level.  The second story tracks were 34 feet below the street level and the lower story tracks 55 feet.  On the upper level there were 41 tracks and on the lower 22.  In addition to those, there were 62 other tracks on the two levels for storing engines and cars, with a big loop on the lower level  to allow trains to turn around without shifting or backing out of the station.  With 238 different sets of points ad crossings, 570 signals, and 1,200 train movements, on 113 tracks, every railroad day, the very latest equipment had to be installed – indeed, had to be invented to meet the situation.  The result was the development of probably the most complete switch and signal layout in the world.  Some distance from the station the four tracks over which trains came to Manhattan Island spread out into ten tracks, four led to the suburban level, 55 feet below the street, and the other six to the through-train level.  An interlocking tower controlled the ten tracks.  Three-quarters of a mile nearer the station, the four lower-level tracks spread out into 22 and the six upper into 41.  The machine controlling the suburban-level tracks had 400 levers.  That on the floor above had 376.  At the Grand Central Station trains left on schedule time.  No wait was made for belated passengers.  The gates closed and the trains went at a predetermined time.  Train dispatching at the Pennsylvania Station differed somewhat from that at the Grand Central.  Here the tower spanned the tracks and the tower director saw the trains he guided in and out of the station.  Here one saw the whole track layout, from the New Jersey portal of the Hudson tunnels into the station.  As a train left the Hackensack Meadows and began its plunge under the Hudson, a signal was sent to the station.  The director gave orders to the levermen, who set the switches for the track on which the train would roll into the station.

The history of railroad transportation in the U. S. was a story of amazing development.  At the outbreak of the Civil War the country had less than 31,000 miles of line, of which only about 2,000 were west of the Mississippi.  It was not until February 22, 1863, that the first sod was turned for the first transcontinental line, on the Pacific end at Sacramento; and not until December 2 of the same year that work began in the Mississippi Valley.  Six years later’ the golden spike which tied together the East and West was driven at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869.  The railroads constituted the key that unlocked the treasure-house of American resources.  The story of the nation’s rise to greatness and power was an account of a succession of frontiers.  At the beginning the frontier stopped at the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The turnpike and the canal finally pierced those heights and let it move on to the Alleghenies.  Those became an isolating influence that held the pioneers in the Mississippi Valley almost a separate people from those on the Atlantic seaboard until the railroad opened the flow of commerce and communication.  In turn the Mississippi River became the frontier.  During the Civil War the South had much less than a third of the nation’s railways.  Furthermore, these linked up distant communities rather than industrial centers.  Comparatively few of them were strategic, whereas the North had rail connections admirably fitted for the movement of men and munitions, and for the fabrication of these munitions.  In Europe the history of railway construction had been that of roads laid down to meet the demand of traffic already there.  In this country tens of thousands of lines had been built through virgin territory, in hopes of spurring growth.  The U. S. had about one-sixteenth of the earth’s land and an equal portion of its population, yet it had nearly a third of the worlds railway mileage.  Its population was only one-fourth that of Europe, yet almost as much lines to equal those of Europe and Asia combined.



The third item listed on the cover of this month’s issue id entitled “Western Views in the Land of the Best” and has no byline.  It is not a article, but a set of “16 Full-Page Illustrations in Color” documented on the cover.  These illustrations are Autochromes, or color photographs, take (and copyrighted) by Fred Payne Clatworthy.  They are displayed on Plates numbered I through XVI in roman numerals representing pages 405 through 420 in the magazine.

A list of the caption titles to the color plates is as follows:

  • “A Daughter of Old Spain in the New World”
  • “A Vista of Blue and Green and Shimmering White”
  • “Once Noble Forest Sentinels Still Stand in Death”
  • “When Wilderness Becomes a Paradise”
  • “Poppies Blow in Other Fields than Flanders”
  • “A Path of Sifted Sunbeams in Rocky Mountain National Park”
  • “Blue Waters that Reach Off Toward Cathay”
  • “Almost Time for the Cottonwoods to Drop Their Leafy Arms, Leaving Only Conifers on Guard”
  • “I Such a Vale Pan and His Dryads Might Have Danced: Rocky Mountain National Park”
  • “Like the Ruined Turrets and Battlements of Some Ancient City: Bryce Canyon, Utah”
  • “Snowy Peaks of the Rockies from Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park”
  • “Massive Crags from the Doorway to the Garden of the Gods”
  • “Where Nature’s Colors and Shadows Collaborate to Form a Wonderland”
  • “The Tom-Tom of the Navajo Echoes Through the Grand Canyon”
  • “A Tranquil Summer Land of Trees and Flowers”
  • “Harvest Time in the Land of the Best”



The third article in this month’s issue is entitled “Missouri, Mother of the West” and was written by Frederick Simpich, author of “The Story of the Ruhr,” “Along the Nile, Trough Egypt and the Sudan,” “The Rise of the New Arab Nation,” “The Wends of Spreewald,” etc. in the National Geographic Magazine.  The article contains thirty-three black-and-white photographs, of which fourteen are full-page in size.

In all our Union, no State name was more widely known or taken in vain than that of Missouri.  Even as far away as Hongkong the mere mention of Missouri was sure to provoke at least a cautious, well-guarded British smile.  Yet those good-natured natives were the sons and daughters of Virginia and Kentucky pioneer, transplanted and matured now in a new environment with a mid-west culture peculiarly their own.  In all the Union, no State has had a more picturesque history; and few, not more than four or five out of the whole 48, contributed more to the Nation’s wealth, strength, and daily bread.  From the first days of French and Spanish exploration, and the settlement of white fur-traders at Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis, the colonization and development of Missouri has had a far-reaching influence on the American West.  From the original Missouri Territory twelve other states were carved, and from the wild lands farther west eight more were formed.  From Missouri, in great numbers, early pioneers went out to settle those new States – to become their governors, judges, and congressmen.  When Texas fought for independence, an army of men from along the Big Muddy rallied to the Lone Star banner, and later tens of thousands swarmed down and helped settle that enormous State.  Long before Chicago was a town, Missouri pioneers were plodding over the Santa Fe Trail, fighting Indians as they went, to trade with distant Mexico.  Situated as it was on two great rivers and midway between North and South, Missouri – from the days of Lewis and Clark, of Pike, Doniphan, and Fremont, down to the transcontinental flivver tourist of 1923 – had been the great natural gateway to the West.  In all the history of the migration of men from one part of the earth to another, there were few routes which had been traveled by as many people as this famous emigrant path across Missouri.  Since Indian times, since the days of the 49ers, since the golden spike, millions and millions of people had poured through Missouri, going west.

In 1923, following the historic Santa Fe Trail, a great transcontinental motor highway crossed the State.  The author remembered as a child seeing an endless stream of prairie schooners, ladened with household goods, women and children, trekking west to the new, cheap lands.  Even as he wrote these lines, that procession was still moving through Missouri, by rail and by motor, pressing westward without pause, rushing over good land in quest of better – the eternal lure of distant lands.  If one rushed through Missouri by train or motor, one saw little of its fields, forests, or country towns.  With the nearby Kansas plains or the prairie flats of Illinois, its wooded hills and winding streams formed a pleasant contrast.  Visiting any Missouri country town, one was struck by the almost total absence of foreigners.  Even after allowing for the large foreign elements in the cities, nearly 95% of all of Missouri’s people were native-born Americans, and more than 75% were native-born Missourians.  Some families had lived on the same farm more than a hundred years ago.  Here, too, was the tenant farmer – an itinerant agriculturalist who owned his own animals and implements, but worked the landlord’s farm, usually for a share of the crop.  Of the 277,244 farms in the State, more than 150,000 were worked wholly or in part by tenants.  Daily life among that small element was still seriously swayed by signs and superstitions.  Though disappearing, there were just enough of those happy-go-lucky, itinerant people to form a distinct social unit.  In striking contrast was the great body of middle-class rural Missourians, who owned their own farms and supervised their own farm laborers.  But even in this powerful and prosperous group amazing changes had come in the past few years.  Not so long ago, the gentleman farmer lived a leisurely and comfortable life.  In 1923, the schools and universities, and labor unrest had changed all that.  The young landlord, State “ag” school graduate, worked the farm himself.

No State in the Union had done more to raise the level of intelligence among its country folk, to make their work easier and more profitable, than had Missouri.  The State University worked jointly with the College of Agriculture and the County Farm Bureau developed programs of rural development, including animal husbandry, horticulture, entomology, farm management, veterinary science, and home economics.  By the school’s extension service boys and girls from ten to eighteen were organized into clubs.  The boys competed for prized in raising the biggest ears of corn, the fattest calves, or the finest-looking chickens.  In no other State were farmers so largely engaged in the livestock industry.  There were other contests – in sewing, canning, baking, etc. – wherein the girls competed.  In other words, the State was teaching the farmer’s children what he himself acquired only after years of costly experience.  This big, rich State offered some curious contrasts.  More than 30 railroads run into it, centering at St. Louis and Kansas City, yet many of its counties had no railroad at all.  In one region, farmers hauled their produce 25 miles to reach a market.  This diverse land of plenty was nearly self-supporting.  In one peak-price year it sold $940,000,000 in farm products, and some of the finest stock farms and the largest cornfields in America were in northern Missouri.  Yet down in the Ozarks, due to lack of transportation, there were more than13,000,000 of potential farmland lying idle.  Lately, a $60.000.000 bond issue had passed to build 6,000 miles of road where the current roads were little more than tracks of dirt.  In central and northern Missouri, high-class breeding animals were shipped every year to Mexico, Europe, and South America.  Yet down in the south the razorback hog, subsisting on acorns and roots and running wild, was one of the curiosities of the countryside.

To a startling degree, the experience of Missouri between 1910 and 1920 showed the extent of the drift of country people to the cities.  Nearly every county in the State lost population.  The total gain of the whole State, which now sheltered 3,404,055 people, was only 3.4%, as against 50% in Arizona.  In spite of the movement away from the farms, farming itself was more efficient and profitable.  Corn was the chief crop.  In 1921 nearly 212,000,000 bushels were grown, a per acre yield of 32 bushels, which exceeded the previous ten-year average by almost 25%.  Midway between Canada and the Gulf, midway between the two oceans, Missouri, as the agricultural center of the Union, occupied a most strategic position in relation to transport means and markets.  More than half its boundary, or about 850 miles, was waterfront.  The Mississippi wound for 560 miles along its eastern edge; the Missouri flowed for 208 miles through it; and the Des Moines in the northeast and the St. Francis in the southeast gave it another 100 miles of riverfront.  It enjoyed more miles of navigable rivers than any other State, and a large share of the railway traffic from the Atlantic to the Pacific passed through it.  Coming from the east, one usually entered Missouri at St. Louis, over one of the four great bridges spanning the Mississippi.  And as the history of Paris was the history of France, so the story of St. Louis, in the beginning, was the story of Missouri.  When the pioneer Americans went west, floating down the Mississippi, their first destination was that early French fur-traders’ colony called St. Louis.  As late as Dicken’s time this riverfront, this old “French Quarter” mentioned in his “American Notes,” was not without color, music, and poetry.  It was vibrant and restless.  But in 1923, the waterfront was desolate and depressing.  The majestic river was lined, for 19 miles, with old, dilapidated buildings.  Entering the town by rail, one fairly hugged the back doors of endless squalid two-story brick houses.

Union Station was grimy and worn, like some ancient temple in a holy city of India, crowded with men, women, and children.  From that dark cavernous maelstrom of din and mingling odors, narrow, cobbly streets lead off to the greater, better, real St. Louis, the mightiest city west of the Mississippi.  Like Bagdad or some old inland town of Europe, St. Louis, though she never smelt salt water, was the home of world traders.  Long ago St. Louis outgrew Missouri – even the Mississippi Valley.  While St. Louis, with a population of 800,000, was often called a “German” city, its foreign-born population was only 13% as opposed to 32% for Boston and 35% for New York.  It had never been a town of get-rich-quick schemes it had conservative merchants.  In reviving river traffic, tying St. Louis to the ports of the world, those traders were looking ahead. They had plans to move some of the steel trade west, to St. Louis, where coal and iron ore met.  Ever since the Pilgrims, American progress had been toward the west.  Nowhere was geography a greater factor for success than in manufacturing.  The manufacturer wanted to know where he was to find fuel, raw materials, labor, and a market.  The rise of Missouri as the greatest manufacturing State west of the Mississippi was due to these facts: she had abundant raw material, plenty of coal, honest American labor, and easy transportation by rail and water.  At St. Louis 23 railroads terminate, representing 80,000 miles of track.  Not counting heavier and mor bulky goods, 1,200 cars of “package freight” left St. Louis every night.  Thanks to Uncle Sam’s help in improving the Mississippi, St. Louis was virtually a seaport for export shipments.  Barges could haul out a million tons annually.  Probably 50% of all U. S. export commerce originated in the Mississippi Valley, and St. Louis enjoyed a peculiar geographic proximity to Central and South America, to Mexico and the West Indies.  Connected with the Gulf by rail and river, St. Louis trade was no affected by tie-ups on the Atlantic seaboard.

From that vast Mississippi Valley came some 70% of the farm products of the whole U. S., 75% of our lumber and forest products, 70% of our oil, and 60% of our mineral products.  And St. Louis lied closer to the center of our farming industry than any other major city.  No other city on earth produced or sold so many boots and shoes, raw furs, stoves and ranges, horses and mules, or so much sugar-mill machinery, woodenware, steel furnaces, hardwood and pine.  The largest shops on earth devoted to making drugs, bricks, street-car, macaroni, plug tobacco, and terra cotta wares were in St. Louis.  And no other town in America dealt on so great a scale in millinery, hats, coffins, bags, trunks, hides, chemicals, saddles and harness, carpets, and sashes and doors.  It probably led the nation in the diversity of its industries.  One in five Americans walked in shoes made in St. Louis.  St. Louis had built and shipped street-cars to every nation where street-cars were used.  The modern river boat, or barge tow, moved 10,000 tons of goods, or more than 350 carloads – as much as ten trains – in a single tow.  The Mississippi connected St. Louis to the world. Always, in Missouri and everywhere, it was the great river.  Here and there an old house still stood, to remind that new generation of soda-water drinkers of the days that were gone.  Here was an old stone courthouse from whose steps slaves were sold at auction; on its east steps stood the city’s public whipping-post.  Grant’s cabin, the log house in which he lived during hard years still existed.  It had been moved from its original site.  An odd fence built of rifle barrels collected from Civil War battlefields surrounded the humble cabin.  The Missouri Historical Society had on display relics of the mound builders who lived where St. Louis now stood and whose earthen monuments gave St. Louis its nickname, “The Mound City.”  Under glass cases reposed many original manuscript records of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and many odd, interesting relics of the Mexican War.  The library of 40,000 volumes was the best record of Indian and Western history in existence.

From St. Louis west and north, all the way to Kansas City, ran one of the most intensive farm, fruit, and truck garden areas in the world.  The chicken crop alone was astonishing in magnitude.  In 1917, Missouri hens produced more than 4,000,000,000 eggs, not counting those consumed on the farms.  All through the State there were depots where chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese were sold.  There were more hogs than there were people in Missouri.  1,500,000 pigs were vaccinated in a year saving millions of dollars from loss through disease.  Counting sheep, hogs, and steers, there were nearly three meat-bearing animals to every person in Missouri.  Horse and mule raising was falling off since the advent of the “iron mule,” or gas tractor.  Yet there were still plenty of the animals in the State.  The Missouri mule was famous worldwide.  Down in the Ozarks, flocks of Angora goats were found, a few herds numbering 3,000.  They were raised for fleecing, and to clear the hillsides of brush.  Goats differed from sheep in that they fed with their heads up, and their natural food was shrubs, brush, sprouts, and vines.  Sometimes a flock of goats increased from 100 to 150% in a single year.  To protect the animal industry inspections were most rigid.  In one year, State authorities inspected and approved 1,447 different varieties of commercial mixed feed for livestock.  Missouri boasted that it was at once an ice State, a rice State, and a cotton State; all three were harvested.  Cane and magnolia grew there; yet the Missouri often froze solid, and the Mississippi froze at St. Louis.  Once in July, at Marble Hill, the mercury climbed to 116 Fahrenheit, and during February, in Benton County, it dropped to 40 below zero.  Missouri, like Kansa and Nebraska, was a favorite stomping ground for tornadoes.  Many homes had specially built tornado cellars, usually out in the yard.  One of the author’s earliest memories was of a storm and a cellar.

Due to a wide range of moisture and temperature, the forest growth in Missouri was astonishing in its variety.  Ash, hickory, walnuts, oaks, maples, elms, sycamores, and willows there were, as well as cypress, magnolias, pines, beeches, sweet-gums, and many others.  And thanks to those many forests, Missouri was a coon-hunters’ paradise.  It was a common saying the those parts that the poorer the man, the more dogs he fed.  On a damp, moonlit November night, the author went on a coon hunt.  The hounds treed the raccoon, and on the smoke-house door the next morning they stretched and tacked up the skin of old Mr. Coon.  It was a curious phenomenon that as a country becomes more thickly settled, its small wild animals tended to increase rather than decrease.  Farming provided fruit and grains for birds and insects, which in turn supplied food for raccoons, skunks, and minks.  Where big poultry farms flourished, weasels multiplied.  In cabbage, pea, and truck-farm regions, rabbits ran riot and foxes got fat.  The story of the State began with the fur traders who set up shop where St. Louis is now.  They traded as far west as the Oregon coast.  In those early days packs of Missouri furs were carried as far as Montreal for sale.  Indians, Canadians, and Americans trapped all up the Mississippi and the Missouri, and trader their pelts for hardware, tools, firearms, and medicines.  In 1923, the skins of bear, deer, and wildcat, once so common, were no longer taken in commercial quantities; but trade in pelts of smaller animals had multiplied a hundredfold.  The bulk of all furs produced in North America came from within 600 miles of St. Louis.  In 1920, 1,068,000 shipments came into the city.  St. Louis was the worlds largest fur trade center.  Every year, raw fur was shipped there from the far countries of the earth – China, Australia, Siberia, and South America.  Many seal skins from Alaska, all dressed and dyed, were sold at auction each spring.  [See: “Making the Fur Seal Abundant,” December 1911, National Geographic Magazine].

Along the Mississippi and in various Missouri streams another odd industry also flourished.  It was the quest for mussel shells and their manufacture into pearl buttons.  Often whole families, camped in a tent or living in a houseboat, were engaged in that industry.  The catch was boiled and the shells cleaned.  Poultry food and fertilizer were made from the waste shell, which was about 95% lime.  On the western edge of the State, where the Kansas flowed into the Missouri, there had risen in recent years a city of nearly half a million people, Kansas City.  In 1919 more than 8,000,000 head of livestock were received at the Kansas City yards over the 24 railways that led into it.  More than half the money in that great, new city was earned by the butchers.  Kansa City also produced soap and heavy chemicals, flour, bread, and candy.  Though in Missouri, Kansas City was not so much of it; rather it was tied up with the great grain, oil, and cow regions of the West and Southwest.  Through the Union Station at Kansas City, millions of home-seekers and tourist could be seen going west, bound for Texas, Idaho, Washington, and California.  Kansas City was busy and growing, but still American.  There were clothing factories, machine shops, mills, and many industries where foreigners usually sought work; yet nine-tenths of the labor in Kansas City was American-born.  Up and away from the dusty, crowded herds in the slaughterhouses, on a bluff and green wooded hill, rose the modern city – a city of singular charm, amazing schoolhouses, vast public playgrounds, and a park and boulevards system so unusual that its fame had spread around the world.  From Australia, Japan, and Europe, men had come to study Kansas City’s parks and boulevards, and to apply the lessons learned to their own city planning.  In spite of the stockyards and factory chimneys, the author hoped that Kansas City would keep her youthful beauty and charm.

The author reminisced about growing up poor in Missouri; watch the train go by but never seeing the inside of a pullman.  Back then, a college graduate was a curiosity.  Many successful country lawyers had merely “read law” and passed the State bar tests, and many a doctor would have been hard put to justify his title.  In those lean years following the panic of ’95, all the boys were needed on the farm or in the country store.  Few boys remained in school after 16.  In 1923, no cultural contrast was greater.  In all the State only 3% of the people were illiterate.  The schools of Kansas City ranked second best in the Union.  Throughout the State there were 14 public seats of learning.  Besides those there were 17 junior colleges and 44 accredited private schools.  Since the first Gazette appeared at St. Louis in 1808, printing had become one of the State’s chief industries.  In 1923, more than 1,000 publications were issued in Missouri.  Time was when the barn was often bigger and better than the house.  In 1923, country homes were becoming more numerous than town houses.  Even the barns, fences, silos, etc., were better build.  The wild days of the bushwhacker were gone.  Lynching was rare, and pistols were no longer worn.  Of the 10,000 churches in the State, 8,000 were in the country or in the smaller towns.  Missouri was first in production of lead, walnut lumber, and saddle-horses.  Kansas City was the greatest market for farm tractors, hay, clay products, Hereford cattle, and winter wheat.  St Louis ranked first among markets for horses, mules, shoes, stoves, hardware, and tobacco.  Missouri shops made 60,000,000 pounds of “plug”, or chewing tobacco, a year.  From her prodigious corn crop, the State turned out 28,000,000 corncob pipes.  Missouri baked and sold carloads of pretzels every season  More river fish were caught in Missouri than any other State, nearly 8,000,000 pounds of fish, eels, turtles, ad frogs.  Carp and catfish were predominant.

In the great green, rolling region of upland prairie north of the Missouri River lied some of the finest stock farms in the world.  In the south and southwest rose the Ozarks, with their rich lead and zinc deposits, their extensive orchards, their goat herds, and inspiring scenery.  There in the classic Ozark hills, for they were not really mountains, nowhere being more than 1,800 feet in elevation, many caves had been found, some of vast dimension and strangely beautiful interiors.  In Stone County alone, more than 100 caves had been discovered.  When one large cave in McDonald County was explored, various crude stone implements and the skeletons of men and animals were found.  A deep pool in another cave had yielded strange fish without eyes.  From the bottom of a rocky gorge in Oregon County, in the Ozarks, there bubbled up from the bowels of the earth a giant spring of cold, clear water, 650,000,000 gallons every 24 hours.  Inevitably, as the Middle West becomes more crowded, a tide of pleasure-seekers will turn to those long-neglected Ozarks, which form one of the beauty spots of America.  Such in 1923 was Missouri, whose name was the basis for the most popular aphorism about any State.  “Mizzoura” it was first spelled and “Mizzoura” it was still pronounced by its two and a half million native sons, who’d rather be in it than “from” it.



The fourth article in this month’s issue has the internal title “Our Map of the United States” and has no byline.  While not listed as an article on the cover, this short, less-than-a-page editorial introduces and describes “A Map of the United States in Five Colors” listed on the cover above the articles.  The supplement map is included with the issue.

Supplement Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

As the eighth of a series of new maps in color compiled by the National Geographic Society and issued as supplements with the National Geographic Magazine since the establishment of new international boundaries following the close of the World War, The Society presents to its members a map of our own country.  It was believed that it would prove one of the most useful ever issued by The Society.  Most maps of the U. S. with enough useful detail were too large, and the smaller commercial maps did not contain sufficient detail.  It was believed that the accompanying map (28 x 38 inches) would be found a happy medium: a convenient size but containing a wealth of information.  More than 8,250 geographical names appeared on it.  Practically every town of 2,000 or more inhabitants, according to the 1920 census, are shown, while in the sparsely settled sections of the country, places of 1,000 and 500 inhabitants are shown.  The Metropolitan districts of sixteen of our largest cities are shown in separate inset maps.  These insets are all drawn at the same scale – 5 miles to the inch.  So important was motor traffic that 34 major highways are included, as are of the national park-to-park highways.  All major passenger railway lines of the eastern half of the U. S. are shown, and practically all the interstate railways are indicated west of the Mississippi.  The editor suggests that the map be reference when reading the article “America’s Amazing Railway Traffic” in this issue.  Additional copies of the Map of the United States may be obtained from the headquarters of the National Geographic Society, in Washington, D. C., at  $1.00 each for the paper edition, $1.50 on linen, mailed postage free in the U. S.; foreign postage 25 cents additional.



Tom Wilson

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