Chicago: Its Trade and Growth in 1851.
We have more than once endeavored, in the pages of the Merchants' Magazine, to do justice to the commercial capital of Illinois; but it would really require almost a monthly bulletin of "facts and figures" to keep up with the growth of Chicago, in population, in Commerce, and in wealth. Of that interesting group of Lake Cities — that young and vigorous growth of Western marts — which are becoming the centers of Western trade and manufactures, Chicago seems destined to take the first place — the "first among equals." The largest of these lake ports are Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukie, Cleveland, Monroe, Sandusky, and Toledo. They are all outlets of the grain region of the West, all points of import from the East, all growing with wonderful rapidity — which has become so much a matter of course, that the most surprising thing about it is that it almost fails to excite any wonder. Nothing less than a miracle of growth, such as that of Chicago, is sufficient to excite any special emotion in an American bosom, which has learned from daily experience of such things the practical philosophy "not to admire."
When, in 1830, General Scott visited the military post at Fort Dearborn, the mouth of the Chicago River, on Lake Michigan, the little hamlet numbered, including the garrison, about two hundred inhabitants.
Six years afterward there were 456 arrivals at Chicago, which were equal to 60,000 tons, and in 1837 its population was 8,000, with 120 stores, (of which 20 were wholesale,) 30 physicians, and 50 lawyers.
About five years ago a convention met at Chicago to further that policy of improvement of Western navigation to which the city may be said literally to owe its very existence. For it was on the representations of General Scott, made to Congress after his visit to Fort Dearborn in 1830, that the first appropriations were made for the improvement of its harbor by the erection of piers. How indispensable, how imperatively demanded by the interests of Western agriculture as well as trade, this policy was and is, is pretty plainly shown by the growth of Chicago, which sprung forward as a racehorse from the stand, the instant that measure of aid was given by Congress.
When, in July, 1847, this River and Harbor Convention met at Chicago, it contained, in round numbers, 17,000 inhabitants.
When, in 1848, we gave a sketch of the history and growth of Chicago, in the February number of the Merchants' Magazine,
On the 1st of January, 1852, its population is estimated at 40,000.
In a late number of this work,
The interesting review of the trade and growth of Chicago, which we low lay before our readers, and which we take from the Chicago Tribune, which ably represents the interests of that city through the press, strikingly confirms these tables, and almost justifies this prediction. For three years past the Chicago Tribune has published annual statements of this kind, and similar to those of the Commerce of St. Louis and Baltimore, which we recently republished. The republication of these reviews in a form which gives them permanence, for future reference and comparison, making them
426the marks and mile-posts of our material progress, has been received with such wide and general approbation, that we shall continue to give them, whenever they can be obtained in a reliable form, although, pressed for space for other interesting matter in our crowded pages.
It is to be regretted that statistics of the Commerce of all our cities are not collected more carefully and systematically. We know of no more appropriate field of activity for local boards or Chambers of Commerce. Meanwhile, the enterprise of some of our leading commercial journals (as we have seen) is doing much to supply this want.
A few years hence some one of the 100,000 people of Chicago will find perhaps, in the fiftieth volume of the Merchants' Magazine, some reference to these remarks, and looking back to this article, will smile at a growth of 20,000 in four years, as something that may have been unprecedented then, but was nothing wonderful in his day. The following review is interesting as exhibiting the growth not only of Chicago, but of Illinois, of which it is the great port of import as well as export. The fact that in 1851, over 125,000,000 boards, 60,000,000 shingles, and nearly 350,000,000 pounds of iron, were imported into Illinois, is significant of the rapid multiplication of buildings throughout the State, and to the imagination of a Political Economist, at once calls up the owners of comfortable dwellings and capacious barns, of fields inclosed and brought into cultivation, and of forests subdued.
Up to the year 1836, provisions for domestic consumption were imported along with articles of merchandise; and indeed many articles of necessary food continued to be brought in for several years later. In 1836 there were exported from the port of Chicago, articles of produce of the value of $1,000 64. We have felt a great curiosity to know what articles constituted this first year's business, but have sought in vain for any other record save that which gives the value. The next year, the exports had increased to $11,065; and in 1838 they had reached the sum of $16,044 75. In 1839 they more than doubled the year previous, while in 1840 they had increased to what was then doubtless regarded as the very large sum of $228,635 74! This was progressing at a ratio very seldom equalled in the history of cities, and must have caused no little exhilaration among the business men of Chicago, as well as advanced the views of fortunate holders of water and corner lots.
We are informed in Judge Thomas's report that a "small lot of beef was shipped from Chicago as early as 1833, and was followed each successive year by a small consignment of this article, and also of pork." Some idea of the extent of the first consignment may be formed from the fact that three years after, the total exports of the place were valued at $1,000 64. It was truly a small begining, and gave but a slight promise of the great extent to which, as the sequel will show, this branch of business has grown. The same authority informs us that the first shipment of wheat from this port was made in the year 1839. In 1842 the amount shipped reached 586,907 bushels, and in 1848, 2,160,000 bushels were shipped out of the port of Chicago. Since that period there has been a material falling off in the annual exports of wheat, owing to a partial failure of the crop each succeeding year, and from the fact that farmers are paying more attention to other products.
We subjoin a table of the value of imports and exports from 1836 to 184 inclusive: —
|1836||$325,203 90||$1,000 64||1843||$971,849 75||$682,210 85|
|1837||373,677 12||11,665 00||1844||1,686,416 00||785,504 23|
|1838||579,174 61||16,044 75||1845||2,043,445 73||1,543,519 85|
|1839||630,980 26||33,843 00||1846||2,027,150 00||1,813,468 00|
|1840||562,106 20||228,635 74||1847||2,641,852 52||2,296,299 00|
|1841||564,347 88||348,862 24||1848||8,338,639 86||10,709,333 40|
|1842||664,347 88||659,305 20|
The increase of imports and exports in 1848 over those of 1847 was not as great as appears from the above figures. The prices at which various articles for the latter year were estimated, are altogether too large. For example — the exports of wheat amounted to 2,160,000 bushels, and its value is set down at $2,095,000, almost $1 00 per bushel. A truer average of the value of spring and winter wheat, for that year, would have been about 60 or 65c. per bushel. Again — the valuation of machinery, turned out by our manufacturers that year, is put down at $1,060,262; that of furniture at $649,326; of wagons at $302,104. When we take into consideration the increase which has taken place in each of the above branches of manufacture in our city, since 1848, and compare these figures for that year with those for 1851, which will be found under their appropriate head in this article, the conclusion must be inevitable that the former were overrated.
While an analysis of the statement for 1848, which, by the way, was gotten up hurriedly, under the supervision of the Board of Trade, reveals facts of this character, that of 1847, prepared by Judge Thomas, is evidently short of the truth, as he conclusively shows in his pamphlet, owing to the impossibility of obtaining full reports of several branches of business.This much in explanation of an apparent increase, the magnitude of which would be likely to induce distrust as to its entire accuracy.
We have not attempted to estimate the total annual amount of our Commerce, since the year 1848, preferring to give, as far as it was possible to obtain accurate information, the amount of each specified article which enters into it. It is not out of place, however, to state that the increase in value, during the last three years, has been in a ratio fully equal to that of any like previous period.
While speaking of the progress of Chicago in respect to the extent of her Commerce, we desire also to call attention to her rapid, almost unexampled, increase of population. In 1837, at the first municipal election, the vote for Mayor stood as follows: for W. B. Ogden, 470; for J. H. Kinzie, 233; total vote in 1837, 703.
At the municipal election, March 1851,the following is the vote cast for Mayor: forS. W. Gurnee, 2,032; for J. Curtiss, 1,051; for E. B. Williams, 1,089; for J. Rogers, 230; total vote in 1851, 4,402.
The first census returns of the city which we have been able to procure are for the year 1840. In the years 1841,1842, 1844, and 1851, no census was taken. The following are the returns for the other years: —
The census of 1850 was taken by the U. S. Marshal, on the first day of June, and shows an increase from August of the previous year, of 5,222. If the ratio of increase has not fallen off since then — and our best informed citizens are of opinion that it has increased — the population of Chicago on the 1st day of January 1852, was a little over 40,000.
Take another view of the progress of the city. In 1839 the total valuation of Property in Chicago was $236,842. In 1851 the books of the Assessor show a valuation of $8,562,717, of which $6,804,262 was real estate.
From this slight survey of the past history of Chicago, the reader will turn With interest to the details of its Commerce for the year 1851, which we now proceed to give: —
The internal Commerce of Chicago is conducted through the agency of eight
428bankers and dealers in exchange, one hundred and nine wholesale, forwarding, commission, and produce houses, and fifty-four lumber dealers.
FLOUR. — The total amount of flour handled at this place during the year 1851, was 111,983 barrels, and was received from the following sources: —
WHEAT. — We have already stated that in consequence of partial failures of the wheat crop, since 1848, and from the fact that our farmers are paying more attention to other products, this branch of the produce trade of Chicago has materially fallen off. Our figures for 1851, will show that that year was not an exception in this respect. The following will show the amount of wheat received during the year, and the several sources of supply: —
|From teams bushels||379,753|
|From Galena and Chicago Railroad||274,020|
The shipments of the year foot up as follows: —
|To Buffalo bushels||298,000|
It will be seen from the above figures that only 67,972 bushels of wheat arrived
429by canal, the greater part of which amount was from points on the canal. Perhaps not more than 20,000 bushels came through from the Illinois River. Throughout the season, prices ruled too high in St. Louis for Chicago operators to compete with dealers from that market. The little that came through was for the mills of the city, and was taken at a price that shippers could not afford to pay. 964,134 bushels were shipped during the season from the Illinois River to St. Louis. The year previous 95,193 bushels were shipped from Chicago to St. Louis: while in 1849 about 500,000 bushels came through from the Illinois River to Chicago. These facts show that the grain trade of that river will come to Chicago or go to St. Louis, as prices may rule relatively high at the North or South; and since a single penny per bushel may be sufficient, when there is nearly an equipoise between the two, to turn the scale either way, the whole subject commends itself forcibly to those who have the power of regulating tolls upon the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The following table shows the range of winter and spring wheat in this market on the first of each month during the year: —
|January||66 a 77||50 a 60||July||60 a 77||41 a 52|
|February||58 72||50 57||August||65 77||33 41|
|March||59 71||53 58||September||30 50|
|April||65 67||51 56||October||50 63||30 44|
|May||58 70||50 55||November||50 85||30 50|
|June||60 72||42 58||December||50 66||30 45|
The highest figures, both for winter and spring wheat, were only paid for very superior samples by the mills.
The following table shows the shipments of wheat from the port of Chicago, for ten years: —
We have already assigned two reasons for the falling off in shipments of wheat from Chicago, since 1848. There is yet another cause, which especially contributed to this result during the last year. 1850 was a season of unusually high prices in breadstuffs; and 1851 was one of extremely low prices. Producers, stimulated by the high prices of the former year, were not prepared for the revulsion in prices which occurred in the latter, and consequently less was marketed, more was consumed in the country, and more remains over in first hands, than would have been the case had the prices of 1851 at all approximated those of 1850.
CORN. In this article of export, Chicago stands far ahead of every other lake city west of Buffalo. Of the entire quantity received at the last named place 5,988,775 bushels during the year 1851, 2,957,303 bushels were from Chicago.
The following table shows the receipts for the year and the sources of supply: —
|Received from canal bushels||2,352,362|
|Received from Galena and Chicago Railroad||295,103|
|Received from teams||688,852|
It will be seen more than two-thirds of the entire amount was received by canal, a very large proportion of which (probably 2,000,000 bushels) was from the Illinois River. The superior facilities which we enjoy for receiving and forwarding grain, less expense of storage, reshipment and commissions, compared with St. Louis, gives us quite an advantage over the latter market, in competing for the grain trade of the Illinois River. Although during a portion of the year corn ruled a shade higher in St. Louis than in Chicago, nevertheless
430the result shows that a little more than two-thirds of the surplus on the river came to our market. The entire receipts of the year at St. Louis were 1,840,909 bushels, over half of which, we estimate, was from the Illinois River. A reduction of tolls, equivalent to one-tenth of a mill per mile, or one cent per bushel, for the entire length of the canal, would have doubtless brought a very large proportion of the additional 900,000 bushels to our market. For the purpose of bringing this subject more particularly to the attention of the canal trustees, and our business men, we subjoin a statement of the monthly price of corn, during the year, in the two markets.
|Months.||Chicago.||St. Louis.||Months.||Chicago.||St. Louis|
|January cts||34 a 35||44 a 48||July cts||36 a 36Ë||38 a 43|
|February||35 36||41 46||August||30 32||35 40|
|March||36Ë 37Ë||35 40||September||35 36Ë||35 38|
|April||36 36Ë||35 40||October||36 37||35 40|
|May||35 36||34 38||November||30 32Ë||31 36|
|June||36Ë 36Å¾||33 36||December||29 30||36 40|
The figures for the Chicago market indicate the price of corn, in bulk, delivered on board vessels for shipment, which delivery costs the seller from half to one cent per bushel; those for St. Louis, show the rates, in gunny bags, delivered in store by the seller.
The following table shows the shipments from Chicago during the year and the amount to each destination.
Shipped to Buffalo bushels 2,976,303
Shipped to Oswego, 167,314
Shipped to Canada 42,643
Shipped to Ogdensburg 27,607
Shipped to lumber country and other ports 26,450
The following table shows the shipments for a series of years: —
|1847 bush.||67,315||1850 bush.||262,013|
OATS. Our figures show a fair increase over previous years, in the article of oats. During the first half of the year, under the effect of a good export demand, prices ruled high, and the article was eagerly sought after. In July the market began to give way, and the downward tendency continued until the close of the year, at which time they brought but very little more than half the sum per bushel, that was readily paid at the beginning of the year. This fact materially checked receipts, and our tables consequently present a smaller quantity in the aggregate business of the year, than would have been the case had prices remained firm. The following shows the amount which came forward: —
Received by canal bush. 184,293
Received by Galena and Chicago Railroad 152,835
Received by teams 821,699
The shipments were as follows: —
To Buffalo bush. 680,698
To lumber country and other ports 24,676
To Canada 350
By canal 108
Total shipments 605,827
The following table shows the prices which were paid on the first of each month, throughout the year: —
|January cts||29 a 30||May||28 a 29||September||18 a 19|
|February||29 30||June||30 32||October||17 19|
|March||29 30||July||25 26||November||16 18|
|April||28 29||August||25 25Ë||December||16 16Ë|
The shipments of oats from this port, for a series of years, have been as follows: —
BARLEY. This grain has not heretofere entered very extensively into our market, though we think our farmers would consult their interest by engaging more generally in its cultivation. The business of the year foots up as follows:
|Received by railroad||bushels||23,518|
|Received by lake||12,231|
|Received by teams (estimated)||10,000|
|Received by canal||262|
The shipments were as follows: —
|Shipped by canal||bushels||11,460|
|Shipped by lake||8,537|
The remainder is either in store or has been consumed by the city breweries. Prices have been low throughout the season, ranging at the close, at 29 a 32c. per bushel of 48 pounds.
The shipments of Barley for three years have been as follows: —
BEEF. Chicago has become famous, the world over, for the quantity and excellent quality of beef which it annually sends to the markets of the Eastern States, and of Europe, In Liverpool, London, New York, Boston and New Bedford, the brands of Chicago packers always command the very top of the market, and are sought in preference to all others. This popularity unquestionably owes both to the well known sweetness of prairie-fatted beef, and to the great care which is taken in curing and packing. The amount of capital employed in this business in our city, is very little, if any, short of one million of dollars. During the season of slaughtering and packing, some five hundred men are directly employed in the business and many others indirectly, in the manufacture of barrels, rendering of tallow, etc.
Last fall, during the progress of slaughtering operations, we published an estimate of the number of cattle that would be packed in the city through the season, given to us by the parties themselves. Prom a variety of causes — such as the panic which occurred in the money markets of New York and Boston, the sudden stoppage of one of the packing houses, and the scarcity of cattle in the country — the result fell considerably short of the figures which we then gave. The following is a corrected statement, obtained after the close of the season, and, with the exception of those slaughtered at Clybourn's, which are estimated, may be regarded as strictly accurate: —
|Slaughtered and packed at G. S. Hubbard's||5,300|
|Ditto at R. M. Hough & Co.'s||3,906|
|Ditto at Reynold's||3,260|
|Ditto at S. Marsh's||2,673|
|Ditto at T. Dyer & Co.'s||2,406|
|Ditto at Tobey & Mahers'||2,361|
|Ditto at Clybourn's||2,000|
|Total number slaughtered||21,806|
Aside from the beef slaughtered and packed in the city, no very large amount comes to this market. In 1849, 246 barrels were received by canal; in 1850,773 barrels; and in 1851, 1571 barrels. These comprise the total receipts of barrel beef for the years named. The shipments of beef from Chicago during the year 1851 were as follows: —
|To lumber country and coastwise||3,125|
The following table shows the shipments for a series of years: —
Commencing with the packing season, the price of cattle at the commencement of each month, until the close of the year, was as follows: —
Sept. $3 00a3 75 | Oct. $3 00a4 00 | Nov. $3 00a3 50 | Dec. $300 a3 75
The above figures may be regarded as the range of the cattle market, throughout the season, though for some choice lots of very fat, heavy cattle, higher rates were paid.
Pork, Hams, and Shsuldfrs. During the winter of 1850-51, the whole number of hogs cut in this city was 22,036, giving a total weight of 5,247,278 pounds, being an average of 238Ë pounds per hog. As regards the business of the present winter, which will not be closed until some time in March, there is a diversity of opinion, though our belief is, that it will not vary much from the last, in the number of hogs cut, while there will be an increase of weight. During the season of 1850-1851, there were received from various sources as follows: —
|From canal lbs.||8,241||1,086,933||432,716|
|From teams and drovers||4,515,745|
The above statement includes no portion of hogs, by teams, which were purchased by city butchers and family grocers.
The shipments during the year, reduced to barrels and casks, have been as follows: —
|To lumber country and other ports||3,325|
The price of mess Pork, Hams, and Shoulders in the Chicago market on the
|January||a 12 00|
|February||10 50 12 00|
|March||10 50 12 00|
|April||11 50 12 00|
|June||14 00 14 50||8 a 8Ë||5Å¾ 6|
|July||14 00||8Ë 9||6|
|August||13 50 14 00||8 8Ë||5Ë 6|
|September||13 50 14 00||8 8Ë||6 7|
|October||16 50 17 00||9 9Ë||7 7Ë|
|November||16 00 16 50||9 9Ë||7 7Ë|
|December||13 00 14 00||9 9Ë||7 7Ë|
The entire shipment of pork from this port for three years has been as follows: —
LARD. The receipts of lard by canal were 2,069,625 pounds, or 9,180 barrels. The amount which came forward by railroad, having been included on the books of the company under the general head of provisions, we are not able to give. The quantity manufactured in the city is also not ascertainable. Besides what enters into the ordinary consumption of the city, some three or four thousand barrels are manufactured into lard oil. A considerable amount is also shipped to, the lumber country that does not appear on the books of forwarding merchants which we have placed in our tables at 300 barrels.
The shipments of the year have been as follows: —
|To Buffalo barrels||9,472|
|To other ports||300|
The following table will show the monthly prices during the year: —
|January cts.||7 a 7Ë||May cts.||8 a 8Ë||September cts.||9|
|March||7 7Ë||July||8Å¾ 9||November||9|
|April||7Ë 7 5/8||August||8Ë 9||December||8 a 8Ë|
The following shows the shipments for three years: —
1849. bbls. 2,282 | 1850. bbls. 2,415 | 1851. bbls. 10,510
Wool. The receipts of this article show a steady increase; and the high prices which have ruled during the last two years, together with the success which has attended almost every attempt to introduce the better breeds of sheep upon our prairies, will doubtless induce a much larger number to engage in the business of wool growing.
The following table shows the amount which came forward during the last year: —
From canal lbs. 520,026
From Galena and Chicago Railroad 211,930
From teams 356,597
Prices ranged during the season the article was in market as follows: —
|June cts||25 a 40||August||28 35||October cts.||20 a 35|
|July||28 40||September||25 35|
The following shows the extent of the wool trade of Chicago each year, for the last ten years: —
|1842 lbs.||1,500||1846 lbs.||281,222||1849||520,242|
LUMBER. The city of Bangor, Maine, alone exceeds Chicago in the extent of its lumber trade; but at the rate at which the latter is gaining upon the former, there can be but little doubt that, within the next, five years, Chicago will take the lead. The increase of this business in our city, is owing in part to the necessities of the contiguous country in process of being settled, and partly completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which opened to our markets an extensive scope of country, the settlement of which had previously been retarded by the difficulty of procuring building and fencing material. An additional impetus has also been given to this trade, by the completion of the first and second sections of the Galena and Chicago Railroad, which effect will be increased as the road progresses westward.
In 1847, the first year for which we can find any account of the lumber trade of the city, the entire receipts were as follows: —
Boards feet 32,118,225 | Shingles 12,145,500 | Lath 5,655,700
The Michigan and Illinois Canal was completed and opened to business in May, 1848, and the additional demand thus created, almost doubled the lumber trade in a single year. The following shows the receipts at the port of Chicago for 1848: —
Boards feet 60,009,260 | Shingles 20,000,000 | Lath 10,025,109
As of material interest in this connection, we give the figures of our trade with the Illinois River, for the last three years, from which it will be seen that that region of country has become our most extensive customer, and that the annual increase of its purchases has been very large.
In 1849, the amount shipped by canal was: —
Boards feet 25,773,000 | Shingles No. 26,560,000 | Lath 7,984,000
For the years 1850 and 1851 we have taken the pains to ascertain what proportion of the lumber shipped by canal, reached the Illinois River. The following tables show the total shipments, and the amount which went through: —
|Total shipments.||Rec'd III. River.||Total shipments.||Rec'd III. Riv.|
Turning from the trade with the canal and river to the general trade of Chicago, we find the total receipts of lumber at this point for the year 1851, to be as follows: —
|Shingle Bolts (7,000 percord) cords||1,488|
|Hewn timber feet||410,679|
The receipts of boards, shingles, and lath at the port of Chicago, from 1847 to 1851 inclusive, have been as follows: —
We know not what more eloquent record we could make, both as respects the increase of business in Chicago, and the prosperity and growth of the State of Illinois, than is presented in the above table. Iron, as being the basis of all machinery, and the chief element in the construction of railroads, has been said to furnish the extent of its consumption a true measure of the state of civilization. With equal propriety it may be said that the consumption of lumber, in State in progress of being settled, is at once both a measure of its prosperity and the degree of its development. The many millions of feet contained in the above table have been scattered broad — cast over the State, and passing into the hands of industrious artisans, have been transformed into tasteful residences, beautiful furniture, comfortable school houses, commodious church edifices, extensive barns, and substantial fences.
The lumber trade of Chicago, besides the addition which it directly furnishes to the Commerce of the place, indirectly, by the employment of a large amount of shipping and by the purchase of supplies for the lumber districts, adds greatly to the general activity and largely swells the annual business of the city. With the aid of a gentleman, largely engaged in the trade, we have made some estimates on this subject, which we think will interest the reader.
The person alluded to in the last paragraph, manufactured during the past year, five million feet of lumber. His books show that he purchased during that period, for the consumption of the laborers in his employ, the following articles, of the value annexed: —
|Corn and oats||600|
|Merchandise (dry goods, hardware, iron, boots, shoes, &c.)||3,500|
|Groceries, including butter, oil, soap, tallow||2,500|
Estimating pork, beef, flour, corn and oats, at the prices which ruled during 1851, would give for every five millions feet of lumber manufactured, the following amount of each: —
Taking these figures as the basis of our calculation, on the supposition that supplies requisite for sustaining those engaged in manufacturing the whole amount of lumber imported to this city, together with their families, were obtained here, we find that the quantity of each is as follows: —
The total value of the above articles, at the prices ruling in this market last year, is $132,500
Value of merchandise.... 87,600
Value of groceries.... 62,500
Total indirect trade to lumber districts.... $281,600
The procuring of material and the manufacturing of five millions feet of lumber required a number of laborers equivalent to sixty men during the year. For we manufacture of one hundred and twenty-five millions feet of lumber, the labor of fifteen hundred men would therefore be requisite. The average wages for lumbermen is $16 per month. Total wages of 1,500 men per year at this rate, $288,000.
Now, as to the shipping employed in transporting this immense amount of lumber hither, seventy-five thousand feet of pine lumber is reckoned equal to one hundred tons. This would give the total amount of tonnage engaged in carrying 125,056,000 feet of lumber at 166,800 tons.
A fair average of the amount of lumber brought to Chicago by each vessel
436engaged in that business, throughout the season, is 1,500,000 feet. This gives eighty-three vessels as the total number employed in the trade. The average cost of freight is $2 00 per thousand feet, which makes the total amount paid for freight during the year, $250,112. The average number of men employed upon vessels in this trade is seven; the total number therefore is 581 men. Average wages paid, $20 per month; total wages for eight months (season of navigation) $92,960.
In the above calculation we have not included either shingles or lath. A vessel of 160 tons will carry 700,000 shingles or 250,000 lath. The total tonnage, therefore, engaged in carrying shingles during 1851 was 13,760, and in carrying lath 17,600, which, added to that engaged in carrying boards, gives a total tonnage in carrying boards, shingles, and lath of 198,600.
A corresponding addition should also be made to each separate item in the foregoing calculations, which every person who takes an interest in the subject will be able to do for himself. We subjoin a brief recapitulation of the above general estimates: —
|Value of provisions and grain||$132,500|
|Value of merchandise||87,600|
|Value of groceries||62,500|
|Wages of 1,500 lumbermen||288,000|
|Freight on 125,056,000 feet of lumber||250,112|
|Wages of 581 seamen||92,960|
|Total tonnage of lumber trade tons||198,600|
The above outlay brings the lumber to the Chicago docks. Here a new set of employees come into requisition; office men, yard hands, etc. Other expenses are also incurred by the dealer, in the way of rents for yards and docks, supplies for vessels, insurance, commissions to bankers, etc.
Again, the interests of the city are indirectly subserved by the additional amount of business which this trade gives to the canal and railroad, and by the inducements which it presents to capitalists to invest their money in other like improvements, connected with the city.
During the last year there were fifty-four dealers and firms engaged in this trade in the city.
|March tons||24,500||July tons||133,700||November tons||84,700|
The above tables, it must be born in mind, are derived from the books of the collector, and are short of the truth by from ten to twenty per cent, in consequence of masters of vessels neglecting to enter their arrival.
|Furs and peltries||pkgs.||5,645||---------||---------||5,645|
|Horns and bones||----------------||80,000||---------||80,000|
|Horns and bones||183||----------||---------||183|
|Nails and spikes||.....||424,312||....||424,312|
|Pots and pearl ashes||...||114,366||8,000||122,366|
|Stoves and hardware||lbs||28 500||1,849 327||...||1,877,827|
|Tar, Pitch, &c.||...||15,873||...||15,873|
|Timothy seed||bbls.||1 670||...||...||1670|
|Trees and shrubs||lbs.||...||37,866||...||37,866|
|Wool||Ibs||1 086,944||1 609||...||1,088,553|
|Furs and pelts||Ibs||.............||82,993||............||82,998|
|Iron||budls. & bara||69,728||..........||...........||69,728|
|Nails and spikes||Ibs.||44,034||4,910||............||48,944|
|Stone cubic yds.||19,940|
|Sugar bbls. & bxs.||2,884||2,884|
|Timber cubic feet||410,679||152,297||562,976|
|White lead lbs.||204,837||204,837|
Trade with Canada. The value of articles imported into Chicago from Canada, during the year 1851 is $5,811 14. And the total amount of duties collected at this port on foreign merchandise, during the year was $2,353 23. The value of exports to Canada during the same time was $116,185 51.
The arrivals from Canada were 7, and the clearances 13.
City Improvements. The improvements which have been erected in Chicago during the year 1851, both as respects style and extent, very far surpass those of any previous year. The total number of buildings erected will not vary much from 1,000. A large number of spacious brick stores, from four to five stories in hight, are among them. The amount expended in building alone, cannot fall much, if any, short of $750,000.
Improvements of a public character have also been prosecuted with energy. Two miles and 3,688 feet of planking has been done upon streets and alleys, which, added to the amount previously completed, gives us 12.28 miles of planked streets and alleys. The cost of the year's planking was $9,213 64. Two miles and 2,987 feet of sewerage has also been constructed during the year, at a cost of $8,907 55. The work of lake shore protection, in consequence of the unusual hight of water in the lake, had to be done over during the year, at a cost of about $12,000. Two public school houses have been erected and furnished at a cost of over $10,000. A market house in the North Division partially completed at a cost of $9,295. A city bridewell, at a cost of $2,851 21. A magnificent court house was also commenced, which will be completed during the ensuing season; it is being built of cut stone from Loekport, New York. The work of excavating the river has also been prosecuted to some extent during the year giving more room for the large amount of shipping which, daring the season of navigation, crowds the harbor.
Nothing was done during the year in the way of improving the entrance to the harbor, the unusual stage of water rendering it almost unnecessary. Something was done towards the erection of an iron light-house at the end of the north pier, but further appropriations from Congress are necessary to its completion.
Railroads. It is a significant fact of the times, that railroads have become essential to the prosperity of cities. It matters but little how great may be the natural advantages with respect to a location upon navigable water, if they fail to
441avail themselves of this new element of power, a decline is inevitable. Chicago is fortunate in the first respect; the enterprise of her citizens and the necessities of Commerce and travel, are rendering her equally fortunate in the other. A brief notice of the various lines of road in progress and in contemplation will not be out of place in this connection.
The Galena and Chicago Road is now completed to the distance of about eighty miles. It was originally designed to make Galena its western terminus; an arrangement has, however, been effected with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, by which it will connect with the Galena branch of that road at Freeport, by which means the former company gain access both to Galena and Dubuque. The history of this company is one which should be studied by all Western railroad companies, as it furnishes a forcible illustration of what perseverance, aided by judicious management, can accomplish in the face of obstacles seemingly insurmountable.
The company have declared a dividend of fifteen per cent on the net earnings of the road for the last fiscal year. In the meanwhile the road is being pushed forward as rapidly as possible, in order to reach Freeport by the time the Central Company shall have completed that portion of the Galena branch lying between Freeport and Dubuque.
The Rock Island and Chicago Railroad is completed six miles from Chicago, at which point it is intersected by the Michigan Southern Road. It is expected that the road will be completed to Joliet by the month of July, 1852, and that Rock Island will be reached in from two to three years.
The Central Military Tract Railroad is to intersect the Chicago and Rock Island Road, some fifteen or twenty miles southwest of Peru, and taking a direction a little west of south, will run upon the table lands between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, passing through Galesburg, and possibly through Macomb and Augusta, to Clayton in Adams county, where it will intersect the Northern Cross Railroad from Quincy to Decatur. This road, from the point of intersection with the Rock Island and Chicago Road, to Galesburg, has recently been put under contract.
The Aurora Extension Road branches from the Galena and Chicago Road at Junction, thirty-three miles from Chicago, and is completed to Aurora, fourteen miles. It is to be continued about forty miles further, to intersect the Galena branch of the Central Road, some thirteen miles distant from La Salle.
The Beloit Branch Road is to be constructed by the Galena and Chicago Railroad Company, branching from their road, at a point not yet determined, and running direct to Beloit, in Wisconsin.
The Chicago and Wisconsin Road, for which a charter was obtained at the last session of our State Legislature, is to run in a north-westerly direction from Chicago, via Woodstock, to Big-foot on the Wisconsin State line, and from thence to Janesville, where it will intersect the Rock River Valley Railroad, which runs from Fond du Lac on Lake Winnebago, down the valley of Rock River to Janesville.
The Chicago Milwaukee, and Green Bay Road. Charters have been obtained from the Illinois and Wisconsin Legislatures, for a railroad between the above points; and measures are now on foot in both States, to organize companies for the purpose of carrying the object into execution.
Chicago Branch of Central Railroad. Of all the railroads connected with Chicago, we anticipate the largest benefit from this one. It is to intersect the main stem in township two north, one west of the third principal meridian, in Clinton county, the entire rout being in almost a direct line from Chicago to Cairo. The company has recently disposed of four millions of its bonds, and will commence the construction of this branch immediately.
Railroads to the East. While we write we are listening for the shrill whistle which will announce the arrival of the cars of the Southern Michigan Railroad. It is probable that the Michigan Central will not be many weeks behind it. By means of these two roads, and their connections, the whole North-Eastern seaboard will be brought into railroad communication with Chicago.
In addition to the above roads, there are two railway projects in Canada West, one of which is already in process of execution, and both of which are almost certain of completion, that are to exercise an important bearing upon the commercial interests of Chicago. One is a railroad from Toronto to Goderick, on Lake Huron. The other, a road from Prescott, on the St. Lawrence, opposite Ogdensburgh, to Georgian Bay, an arm of Lake Huron. The completion of these two roads will result in the establishment of a daily line of steamers between Chicago and the western terminus of each. The advantages that would result are too obvious to require mention.
These are the present and some of the prospective railroad connections of Chicago. That their effects will be to make Chicago a great commercial center, and give it advantages such as no other city in the interior of the continent enjoys, must be apparent to every unprejudiced mind.
Plank Roads. From no other improvement has Chicago derived more direct and manifest benefit, in proportion to the capital invested, than the plank roads which connect it with the adjacent country. It is gratifying also to know that the various companies which have engaged in this enterprise, while they have contributed to the general advantage, have invested their money wisely and profitably to themselves. As was to be expected, many mistakes were made at the outset. The road bed in some cases was not raised sufficiently high to protect it against the spring and other freshets; pine boards were used instead of the more enduring and solid oak, and some other errors, all of which experience has corrected. The more recently constructed portions of our roads are made of substantial material, and with strict attention to the subjects of grading and draining.
The total number of miles of plank road leading from the city is about seventy, the cost of which, including bridges, gates, gate-houses, &c. will not vary much from $168,000. The first road constructed was the —
South-Western Plank Road, leading from Chicago to the eastern boundary of Dupage county, a distance of sixteen miles. Here it connects with the Naperville and Oswego plank road, which, when completed, will extend it to the latter place, on Fox River, distant from Chicago forty miles. Twelve miles only of the Naperville and Oswego road have been finished, which extends it to the vicinity of Naperville, and makes, in connection with the South-Western Road, twenty-eight continuous miles. Some three miles east of Naperville, the road is intersected by the St. Charles and Warrenville plank road, two and a half miles of which have been constructed. From St. Charles to the point of intersection is thirteen miles. At St. Charles it will connect with the St. Charles and Sycamore road, several miles of which have been finished. Thirteen miles of the South-Western Road were laid down with pine boards; these have given way in many places, and the company is having oak substituted in every such case. In a very short time the whole road will have thus been replaced by oak. The Naperville and Oswego Road, as far as built, is said to be a model road, in every respect superior to the other plank roads of the country.
A provision in the charter of the South-Western Company confers the privileges of banking — a circumstance which the company has not been slow to avail itself of, and no small portion of our local currency is derived trot source.
The next road undertaken was the —
North-Western. This road is to connect Wheeling with Chicag, fifteen miles of the main road have been constructed, and two branches, one five and a half miles, the other two and a half, each of which terminates at the O'Plain River. The cost of this road and branches, including one bridge twice built four gate-houses and five gates, was $51,000. The company has a similar charter to that of the South-Western, though we have heard no intimation that banking is contemplated under it. The company did, however, deal a little last year in marine risks, from which it realized a snug little sum in the way of premiums, and met with not a single loss. This road is the best paying road connected with Chicago, its net income ranging from thirty to forty per cent on the original cost.
THE WESTERN ROAD connects with the first branch of the North-Western, at the O'Plain River, and is completed to Salt Creek, a distance of six miles. It is the intention to continue this road either to Dundee, or to Genoa, via Elgin. The company has erected a steam saw-mill on the line of the road, for manufacturing the lumber requisite for its construction. The six miles completed cost about $2,000 per mile.
The southern Road is the last we have to notice. It is built due south a distance of ten miles. It was the original intention to continue it to Middleport, in Iroquois county, a distance of seventy-five miles, but the subsequent location of the Chicago Branch of the Central Railroad has, we believe, led to the abandonment of this design. The ten miles completed cost about $21,000. A cash dividend of fourteen per cent has been declared by the company for 1851.