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´╗┐Title: Address by Honorable William C. Redfield, Secretary of Commerce at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense
Author: United States. Council of National Defense. Highway Transport Committee
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Address by Honorable William C. Redfield, Secretary of Commerce at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense" ***

       *       *       *       *       *

                         OCTOBER 15, 1918

                          BULLETIN NO. 4

                            ADDRESS BY
                      SECRETARY OF COMMERCE

                        WASHINGTON, D.C.
                        SEPTEMBER 19, 1918



  "_The Council of National Defense approves the widest possible
  use of the motor truck as a transportation agency, and requests
  the State Councils of Defense and other State authorities to
  take all necessary steps to facilitate such means of
  transportation, removing any regulations that tend to restrict
  and discourage such use._"


[Illustration: MAP SHOWING REGIONAL AREAS Highways Transport Committee
Council of National Defense]

_Recognizing the national value of our highways in relation to, and
properly coordinated with, other existing transportation mediums, and
more particularly the necessity for their immediate development that
they might carry their share of the war burden, the Highways Transport
Committee was appointed by, and forms a part of, the Council of
National Defense._

_The object of the committee is to increase and render more effective
all transportation over the highways as one of the means of
strengthening the Nation's transportation system and relieving the
railroads of part of the heavy short-haul freight traffic burden._

_National policies are directed from the headquarters of the national
committee in Washington to the highways transport committees of the
several State Councils of Defense. These State organizations, which by
proper subdivisions reach down through the counties to the
communities, are grouped together into 11 regional areas, as shown by
the map used above. The State committees of the different areas are
assisted by and are under the direct supervision of the 11 regional
chairmen of the Highways Transport Committee, Council of National

                        WASHINGTON, D.C.

             COMMITTEE, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1918.

MR. CHAPIN AND GENTLEMEN: It would be a truism to say that I have
always been interested in transportation. It has always been a subject
of keen interest to me, I presume, because I was born with it. By the
fortune of birth I came to live in a region where transportation has
been through every one of its stages in this country. If you go back
into the history of the Colonies, you will find the two first lines of
through transportation in America were east and west--the St. Lawrence
River and the Lakes--while for over a century the one great central
north and south line was the Hudson River, Lake George, and Lake
Champlain. In that entire length from the St. Lawrence to New York
Harbor there was but about 13 miles that could not be traveled by
water with such boats as they used. You will recall that great
historic events of our early history centered about this
transportation line. Burgoyne's surrender, Arnold's treason, the great
contests of the French wars, Macdonough's victory on Lake Champlain
were all associated with this water route. Such names as Montcalm,
Schuyler, and Champlain are linked to it. Historically, it is true
both for war and peace that transportation has been formative and
controlling in our national life. One of the early evidences of the
growth of transportation in this country, and therefore of our
national progress, was the act of connecting the Great Lakes by the
Erie Canal with the Hudson River.

The largest number of railroad tracks paralleling any navigable stream
follows to-day the line of the Hudson. There are six much of the
way--four tracks on one side and two on the other. I am going to make
that historical line of water and rail transportation the basis for a
little study with you, to see what the normal development of
transportation is, and whether, as I believe, the particular form that
concerns you is a natural outgrowth of all that has gone before. If it
is so it is here to stay. If in the process of transportation
evolution we have reached the normal use of the highway, together with
the waterway and the railway, then you are doing a constructive work
for your country. But if that work is not normal, if you are trying to
impose upon the body politic something strange and artificial, then
your work will, and ought to, fail.

The transportation system of the United States is not a unity. It can
not be run on what we may call unitarian lines. It is a trinity, and
has to be run on trinitarian lines. You must link up railways and
waterways and highways to get a perfect transportation system for this
country. If there were no railroads we would have little
transportation. If there were no waterways there would be insufficient
transportation. If we had an abundance of railways and waterways and
lacked the use of highways, we should have imperfect transportation.
We should fail to bring it to every man's door, and it must be brought
to every man's door to be perfect.

The early transportation in the Hudson River Valley was by sloop. The
history of the river is full of the traditions from the old sloop
days, when it was sometimes five and sometimes nine days from New York
to Albany by water. The river was just as navigable then as it is now;
the difference lies in the tool that was used. Now in that use of the
fit tool for the route lies the whole truth in transportation, and yet
so far as I know the full bearing of the application of the tool to
the job is almost new to our discussions of the several phases of
transportation. In due time comes Robert Fulton and the _Clermont_
begins to flap flap her weary 36 hours from New York to Albany. A new
tool but the same route. In time she passed into a more modern type.
The steamboat developed, and came the canal with its mule power. How
strange it seems in these days to think of mule power ever having been
considered. Yet I have in my possession a letter to the constructing
engineer of the Erie Railroad urging that it should be operated by
horses between New York and Buffalo and giving 10 very excellent
reasons why horses were far better than steam locomotives could be. It
took a lot of argument to keep the horses off the Erie Railroad.

Came the steam locomotive. Now the rail was not new any more than the
river was new. The railroad or tramway in England is far back, earlier
than the railroad in America. There were tracks laid many years before
anybody thought of a locomotive engine. The invention lies not in the
railway but in the tool put upon it. Again the principle of the tool
to the job. Also a new principle that the way, whether it was waterway
or railway or highway must adapt itself also to the most effective
kind of tool that could be put upon it. You could apply it but
partially to the river. When canals came along later, it became
apparent that you must not only have the best tool for your waterway,
but must suit the latter also to the tool. We understand this about
railways; we have not been so clear about it as to waterways and

It is within two years that the governor of a great State has
suggested to me that the use of large motor trucks be forbidden
because they destroyed highways. I ask you if you will warrant the
removal of locomotive engines because they are made 100 tons heavier
and would break the light rail made 40 years ago? The problem is a
duplex one. The best tool must be had for the job and the opportunity
must be provided for the tool to do its work.

So the railway came along and since the mechanical engine fitted so
perfectly into the American temperament and the national needs, the
railway and the tool for the railway developed together side by side.
Still with the coming of the railroad we thought of transportation as
a unity. Highways did not amount to very much. Men went by horseback
often, because they had to, not always because they wanted to. And
after the railroad came, the waterway was all but destroyed, because
we thought of transportation as a unity of railroads. Up to a very few
years ago all of us who are not far-seeing would have thought of
public transportation as meaning essentially the railroads. Yet so
rapidly in the last five years has the law of transportation been
developed that it is a little bit difficult for us to keep up with the
rush of this movement.

There came into the world a new tool--the internal-combustion
engine--destined to work almost as great a change in the human life as
the steam engine in its time, making possible a tool for the waterway
that the waterway had never had before, making it possible to use for
the highway what the highway had never had before, making necessary
the alteration of the highway to suit the new tool built for it. It
has never been true until now; it has just now become true that the
waterway and highway have been, as regards the tools for their use, on
a technical and scientific level with the railway. The Government is
just putting in operation this month the first great barges for the
Mississippi River intended to carry ore south and coal north, made
possible because of the internal-combustion engine. The tool has come,
the internal-combustion engine is altering the face of the marine
world. So that we do not really need but over 6 feet of water in the
northern Mississippi to carry 1,800 tons of ore in one boat. We look
upon the development of the New York State barge canal with a
certainty of its profitable use for the Nation, for with a 12-foot
draft we know we can carry 2,500 tons in any vessel constructed for
the purpose, driven by internal-combustion engines. The tool for the
job and the way made ready for the tool.

I go into my shop to put up a hammer. What is the essential feature of
my hammer's operation? The foundation. It may be the most powerful
hammer made, but unless given a sufficient sub-structure it can only
be destructive. So for the waterway, so for the highway. You may have
the most perfect equipment for their use but the instrument must work
in a proper environment. So the waterway, then, the last few years--in
fact, very recently--has come rapidly into its own. It is within 18
months, gentlemen, that I stood upon the first load of ore going south
on the Mississippi River and saw it enter the port of St. Louis. It
was only yesterday that I sent to the Senate my formal report urging
Government ownership and operation of all the northern coastal canals
from North Carolina to New England, with the certainty that adequate
and efficient vessels could be provided for their use.

Now, these three ways of transporting developed to their full are not
hostile to each other. In the days of our ignorance we thought they
were. In other times the railroad bought canals to suppress them. But
we have learned a larger outlook now and the congestion so recently as
a year ago taught us that there are certain kinds of goods, certain
types of transportation, that the railways of this country can not
afford to do. Certain great items of bulk freight they must always
carry. We should starve for steel if we had to depend upon our
railroads to bring the ores from Minnesota to Pittsburgh, and the
Northwest would be in a hard case if we had always to send coal to
them by rail from the region of the East. We are learning that there
is a differentiation in transportation. So these two enemies of the
past are likely to operate as friends to-day. It is not a strange
thing that the internal waterways of the country are at this time
being operated by the Railroad Administration. It means an advance in

I told the Director General of Railways that two-thirds of the job was
fairly well in hand, but that he had left out one-third, and that I
thought he would not get his unity complete until he made it a trinity
by taking in the highways. I told him that the highways as a
transportation system and their development both as to roads and as to
means of using the roads were quite as essential to the country as the
other two. In reply he suggested that it was a larger job than he
himself could undertake, with the railroads and the waterways on his
hands, and asked me if I would not do it. To my regret I was obliged
to refuse. The law does not give me authority. I should have been glad
if I could have had more of a part in it, because, given your
perfected railroad--and I speak as a friend of the railroad and a
friend of the waterway, which I think is also coming into its own--I
am convinced that neither will reach its normal place as a servant of
the people unless linked up with motor-truck routes.

There is a steamboat line running from New Haven to New York. At New
Haven lines of motor trucks radiate out in several directions. From
this radius around New Haven for many miles in three directions the
motor trucks come down in the evening to the boat. The boat leaves a
little before midnight and arrives in New York in the morning, when
the freight is transferred and goes out on the early trains for the
West. It is a good system of interlocking service such as we have got
to have.

My conception of the future of the New York Barge Canal and the canal
across New Jersey and the Chesapeake and Ohio and all the waterways is
that the companies operating on them shall pick up and deliver at
every important terminal point by lines which shall radiate out by
motor trucks from 50 to 100 miles, and they shall take from these
places goods thus brought to their station. So that if when, for
example, they were delivering goods from Kentucky to Illinois, it
might start from a farm or from an inland village by motor truck and
go to the nearest waterway station, there to be picked up by a vessel
and to be carried down the Kentucky and Ohio to a point sufficiently
near in Illinois to where it was to go, there to be picked up by motor
trucks which would carry it to its destination, and it should be
billed through by one bill of lading. That would definitely establish
that the vehicles and highways are not accidental or incidental but an
essential factor. That, it seems to me, is what we are coming to
before very long. I imagine we will come to it almost before we think
of it.

From that are a number of inferences. The public authorities have got
to be sufficiently educated to make a good thing possible. They have
got to learn, as many a farmer has to learn, that the most costly
thing in the world is a bad road; that as compared with seal-skin furs
and platinum mud is far more costly an item; and that there is no such
evidence of a muddy state of mind in a community as a muddy state of
highways in the community. They go together--mental and physical mud.

Now, let us see whether our idea is false or true in its application.
The Hudson River has by it six tracks of railroad. The fleet of
vessels upon the Hudson River was never as great, never so new or well
equipped as to-day. The vessel with the largest passenger capacity, or
at least second largest (6,000 persons), is in operation on that
river. The freight carried on the river amounts to over 8,000,000 tons
a year by water. I put a factory at Troy because I could get by water
express service at freight rates, loading machines on the boat in the
evening and have them delivered in New York the next morning, while to
ship the same material by railroad to New York would require three to
five days by freight.

Directly back from the river bank on either side are two of our fine
highways. Neither the railroad nor the river meet all the needs of the
men living on those roads. You might build the railroads up until they
are 10 tracks wide, but you do not fully help the farmer 10 miles away
to get his produce to market. And you might fill the river with
steamers, and he may be still isolated. There must come something to
his farm which transports his produce easily and systematically and in
harmony with other methods in duplex action going and coming. So our
friend the farmer must have the rural express or its equivalent, which
comes to his door, which in the morning connects him up with all the
round earth and brings him what he wants of the earth's products back
to his door that night.

I can not think of that except as a matter of common sense. It is a
thing which has got to be, and in a very few years, at least, will be
as accepted as such things as the rising of the sun and the setting of
the sun. It will be considered normal. You will even find, if you have
not already found, farms offered for sale on the basis of having a
rural express coming and going on one side of it--perhaps on two sides
of it as we get into it more thoroughly. The whole rural
postal-delivery system was the promise and pledge of the rural
express. What we do when we send the motor truck through the rural
centers is to push the rural free-delivery and the parcel-post service
just one step forward. I have had motor trucks put on the Pribilof
Islands, in the Behring Sea. They are building the roads to run on
before they can run on them. And there, 250 miles north of the
Aleutian Islands, we can make motor trucks pay for themselves in a
single year by the force they add in effective transportation. We have
a seal rookery 13 or 14 miles from the village of St. Paul Island. We
have not been able to kill seals there, because we could not get skins
down to the village. Now a couple of motor trucks bring them down
without the least difficulty, and in order to get the road there they
carried down materials to build the road. So in the same way we have a
great many fishery stations isolated. You can not put fish hatcheries
in towns. We get them as far off as practicable. The problem is to get
sufficient water and isolation, and so those stations are rather
difficult to reach. In those places to-day we have put motor trucks.
Here with these important stations 6, 8, 9, and 10 miles and sometimes
more away, it was perfectly obvious that the best, simplest, and
quickest means of access was necessary and for several years now we
have been putting little Ford trucks in there, if you can call them
trucks, and I presume some of you anyway still do. They have changed
the effectiveness of the whole thing.

That is all very simple. I imagine that one great difficulty in this
world is that the simple things are sometimes very hard to bring
about. It is true in a certain sense that if we bring to a man
something that is difficult and complex it catches the mind by its
very complexity and strangeness. But if we come to him and say that
mud is one of his worst enemies it seems hard to him that it could be
as bad as it really is, as he is sort of friendly toward the mud. So
many are familiar with the automobile--not as familiar, I believe, as
they are going to be--that it seems hard to think it can work as
revolutionary a change in their life as it is going to do. But I am
perfectly certain that there abide these three elements of
transportation--railway, water way, and highway--that they are one,
and that none of them will reach its full value to the community
without the other, and that each is the friend of the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Address by Honorable William C. Redfield, Secretary of Commerce at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense" ***

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