Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the Stockholders of the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company

This collection of reports given at the first annual meeting of the stockholders of the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company in 1848 includes extensive information about the financial status of the railroad. Whit'l P. Tunstall, president of the company, also presents an extensive argument for Virginia's railroad development, predicated on the successes of railroads in other states.


. 1848.

page image


Office of the Richmond and Danville R. R. Co., To the Stockholders of the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company


The President and Directors of this Company, in submitting to you [the] first Annual Report upon the subject committed to their charge, [might] perhaps, with propriety, only refer you to the reports of the Chief En[gi]neer and Treasurer, herewith submitted.

Immediately after the organization of the company, the Board of [Di]rectors, availing themselves of the widest and amplest means of inform[a]tion in their power, in relation to the character and competency of [the] individual to fill the office of Chief Engineer, with a due sense of [the] importance and responsibility attaching to that office, and a mag[ni]tude of the interests involved in it, took the earliest measures to fill t[he] appointment; and accordingly secured the services of Andrew Talcot, Esq., to whom, with the required assistants, the survey was forthwith committed. As soon as the necessary instrument, with wagons, ten[ts], &c., could be procured, and the several engineering corps could be fill[ed,] they entered respectively upon the duties assigned them. The fidel[ity] with which the Cheif Engineer, and those under his supervision, [have] discharged the trusts committed to them, may be attested by the fact, [that] in the space of time in which they have been engaged about seven hundred miles have been surveyed over a highly diversified country, with [a] final location of about one-third the distance; furnishing data for an ea[sy] completetion of the remainder, and giving such ample means of information in relation to one hundred miles of it, as justified the Board in completing a contract for the grading and masonry for that distance, at a [cost] of survey and contract, probably cheaper than have hitherto been obtained for any line of similar extent in the Union.

The value and economy of the most complete and thorough survey [of] every portion of the country upon the contemplated line of railway, are so obvious, and are now after experience so well established, that it is not necessary to defend or justify a policy which to the casual observer might [seem] an "idle waste of money." The re-locations that have taken place, [and] those now constantly being made, upon the most important lines in [the] United States, involving an immense expenditure of money in addition [to] the original outlay, injoin those who have their work to do, cautious[ly] to "survey the ground they mean to tread upon," and, at least, "to [look] before they leap." In obedience to these views, and with a determination to leave no ground unexplored which might avail in the accomplishments of the great undertaking we have in view; and especially in a spirit [of] compromise and a disposition to harmonize all the interests which might

page image

seem to lay along our line, a survey was ordered of the present Chesterfield Railroad, with a view of ascertaining the practicability of adopting that, in the event of an ulterior arrangement with the proprietors of that road.

It will be recollected that an act was passed at the last session of the General Assembly, giving the power to the proprietors of the Chesterfield Railroad to sell, and to this company to purchase of that company its franchises, &c., in the event of their mutual disposition to do so. It was an act of a mere grant of power upon a disposition to exercise it; and given to prevent cavil or dispute on the part of individuals factiously disposed to throw opposition in the way of two companies, who might find it to their mutual advantage to make such an arrangement. Simultaneously with the survey of that road, a committee of this Board was appointed to confer with the Directory of the Chesterfield Railroad Company, with a view of purchasing their road in the event of its practicability for our purposes, and to ascertain their disposition upon the subject, and the value they might put upon it. That Directory declined acting without the views or sanction of the stockholders, and accordingly it was deferred for their action. Upon the meeting of the stockholders of that company, they almost unanimously adopted a resolution declining to sell to this company at any price less than seventy-five dollars per share—that was their minimum: and such was the resolution reported to this Board. Of course it was no farther considered; the subject was at once at an end.

The stock of that company was not valued in the market, so far as could be ascertained, at more than $55 per share. The last sale of it of much importance that had occurred in the past year or two, was at about $52 per share, when no other road was in probability; and if purchased it would have required an almost entire re-construction in the taking up and re-laying whatever portion might be used, consequent on widening the guage,—its cars therefore comparatively useless,—not an axletree long enough, and the iron and mules only available. In addition to which, it had been ascertained by survey that in consequence of the grades we could not have used more than about six miles of their present road, (as will be seen by the report of the Chief Engineer); that we should in consequence have an increase in length of nearly a mile, and an additional cost of $120,000. A longer road, with higher grades, and the addition of $120,000!—Surely that was enough. Could this company be justified in any such purchase?

It may be proper to state, that a member of this Directory was present at the meeting of their stockholders, and urged a modification of the resoution so as not to make it imperative, but leave the matter to the fair adjustment of a committee of each Board, upon full ascertainment of the actual value of the stock. But they were immovable; and thus the matter ended.

I have been thus particular in relation to this subject, and have devoted thus much space unnecessarily to it perhaps, in order that the true position of this company might be known to the stockholders and the community in relation to it; knowing that there are those who have interests in both companies; desirous of the prosperity of both; who would be regretful of injury to either, and who are therefore entitled to know the facts. This Directory was sincerely desirous, if practicable without detriment to the immediate interest it had in charge, to have effected the arrangement with

page image

that company. It desired the "good will " of those interested in that road, and the entire transportation immediately from the pits of all the coal raised. Such were the reasons influencing this Board, and such its motives; and they have been thus minutely referred to in order to disabuse the minds of those who might from misinformation or prejudice have adjudged it as acting from a feeling of spite and rivalry, or a low, trafficing, huckstering disposition; with a contemptible economy trying to undervalue the property of others in order to purchase,—and if not succeeding, in a mean spirit of jealousy, trying to run it down by opposition. This Directory operates with no such feelings,—it deals in no such trickery. It entertains no sentiment of unworthy or improper rivalry,—no sneaking and contemptible jealousies. The interest which it guards must stand by its own merits, prospects and achievements; and if it fail, it desires none other to fail with it.

Upon the final determination of this subject,—in the prosecution in the mean time of other surveys,—the Directory were gratified with the achievement of the line finally adopted; which furnishes lower grades, a shorter route, and a large saving in the outlay.

Looking to the depressed price of iron in the earlier part of the spring, and the very fluctuating character of that article in the market, the Directory deemed it judicious to conclude a contract for as much as would complete the road to the coal pits; and accordingly made arrangements with the Armory Iron Company for 1,200 tons of the bridge or a rail form, at the price of $64 50 per ton. The tendency of the article in the market at the particular juncture of the purchase was rather upward, with a probability, as was then thought from all the elements of calculation, of a higher figure; and it was not deemed prudent to delay the purchase with the hope of a decline. And looking to the acknowledged superiority of domestic over foreign iron, (now universally admitted to range from $8 to $15 per ton,) and the equally known superiority of the Virginia fabric contrasted with the domestic article in general,—regarding likewise convenience of examination and inspection at our own door; the Directory saw no reason to justify delay upon the subject, but rather an unnecessary hazard :—And subsequent contracts, made in a very short time by some of the Southern railroad companies, demonstrated the propriety of the purchase.

Subsequently, in consequence of the unusual diminished price of that article, a further contract was made with the same company for an amount of flat or plate rail sufficient for the completion of the road to Staunton river, at $55 per ton. And looking to all the elements that enter into the price and value of iron when delivered to us in the city of Richmond, we congratulated ourselves that we were enabled to obtain a supply of this important material in Virginia, upon quite as good terms as it could shave been procured elsewhere;—and, if superior quality be admitted as an element of value, at even lower prices.

Under the apprehension that a rise in the value of real estate would occur in that quarter of the city which might probably be selected for a depot, the Directory early in the spring purchased of Mr. Hall Neilson a lot of unimproved ground between 14th and Virginia streets, and took legal and necessary measures to condemn other grounds contiguous thereto the proceedings in relation to which have not been finally concluded.

page image

The location of the line to the coal pits having been completed in the month of June, the grading and masonry were duly advertised for letting; and Messrs. James Hunter and Robert Harvey being the lowest bidders for the execution of the work, and proposing to extend their bids for a considerable distance farther, and upon terms in regard to compensation deemed highly safe and satisfactory to the company, a contract was made with them for the entire line to Staunton river. The character and long experience of these gentlemen in similar undertakings, furnish assurance of fidelity and dispatch in the execution of their contract; and the prices at which it is given to them, with indications since received from others, justify the belief that the whole work may ultimately be accomplished at about the amount of the chartered capital.

In the month of July a communication was received from the Board of Public Works, requesting the appointment of three Directors upon the part of that Board in this company. That Board had indeed made an appointment of three, gentlemen to represent the commonwealth in the Directory of this company, and requested a general meeting of the stockholders for the purpose of the removal of some of their own appointment and the substitution in their stead of others named by themselves. The terms of the charter were so plain, positive and direct upon the subject, that Board felt constrained respectfully to decline a compliance with the request for the object indicated; and in so doing, the President of this Board deemed it proper and respectful briefly to refer to some of the reasons which induced the determination of this Board upon the subject. The conclusion of this Board was in their estimation justified, not only by the clear reading of the charter, but was sustained by the opinion of the Attorney General, that of their own legal adviser, and of distinguished counsel of this city. The correspondence upon the subject is herewith respectfully submitted to your consideration.

The general financial condition of this company, as exhibited in the report of the Secretary and Treasurer, is herewith submitted, in which is seen the total number of shares of stock held on individual account, as well as those by the commonwealth and corporations. The total amount of subscriptions on individual account is 4,847 shares, leaving yet unsubscribed 1,153 shares.

To the suggestions of the Chief Engineer in regard to the comparative expense and profit of the common flat-bar and iron rail, I desire to call your consideration. The present amount of capital not justifying the application of the more expensive rail at present, it is for the stockholders to determine upon the probability of the procurement of such additional capital as would effect that end,—and a consequent augmentation of the same by the Legislature.

Under instructions of the stockholders in their first meeting at Charlotte courthouse, the surveys have been made with an eye to ascertain "the most direct practicable route" between Richmond and Danville, and have been made with reference to that instruction, and with a view to the ascertainment of that fact solely. Whether there are elements entering into a final determination as to location, such as greater inducements to trade and travel, ultimate connections with other lines, &c., &c., which might give *Since closing our books on 30th November, additional subscriptions have been obtained, leaving about $100,000 unsubscribed.

page image

an inclination either north or south, you must determine. It may be proper in this connection to state, that communications have been received both from Farmville and neighborhood, and from the county of Nottoway urging considerations respectively, for a northern and southern inclination, with considerable promise of aid in the way of subscription; but the Board have not felt themselves at liberty to look to any such deviation from their line of instruction.

It is matter of painful regret that any portion of the stock should yet remain unsubscribed for; but such fact argues rather an apathy and indifference on the part of those interested, than any want of ability to make it or any want of merit in the scheme itself.

This is no time or occasion to argue the utility and advantage of railroads. The intelligence and practical wisdom of the age, have settled that question. Whilst the sedate and sagacious Englishman, the grave and unspeculative German, the active and mercurial Frenchman, have with one voice pronounced them almost as important and necessary in the grew commercial intercourse of mankind, as air and food, in giving health and vigor to animal economy; whilst the practical wisdom, industry and rigid economy of the north, the active energy and enterprise of the south, the boundless and rushing spirit of the west, are spreading them around and about us, in endless and unimpeded progress, Virginia, "alone in her glory," seems unmoved either by the instincts of interest, or the impulses of ambition. Whilst she would seem ignobly and wilfully relinquishing all pretence to originality in schemes of enterprise, and abandoning at ambition of advancement, she would appear almost equally blind as to the existence, and indifferent as to the results, of those stupendous achievements, which the brilliant lights and creative energies of less favored sisters all around her, have revealed and established. The first great aim of man is to obtain sustenance from the products of the earth; his next object is to transport all above his own necessary use, to the point where will be available; to get from his own point of production, what he may have, in exchange for what others may have from theirs. The more readily and quickly this is done, the easier and more rapid his prosperity; the more his facilities for the acconnplishment of this purpose, the more his labor is rewarded, his industry stimulated, his wealth and prosperity promoted; and this is the end and aim of all social, moral and civil institutions. If it were not so, then the greater the obstacles thrown in his way; the greater the advantage to him; the more difficulties to impede his progress, the greater the reward of his industry and enterprise; or in other words, the loftier the mountains, the rougher the roads, the wider and denser the forests, the thicker the chapparal, and more impassable the rivers that oppose his progress to the point of exchange, the more is his wealth, comfort and prosperity promoted; or in homely wagon phrase, the "sorrier the team and heavier the load," the quicker he'll get to markert. Such an absurdity is too monstrous and glaring, even for the antideluvian. Time then is an essential element in transportation, as well as production and even outweighs cheapness—or saving time, is saving cost. Who does not know how very many more people would go from New York to Liverpool now, even at the same cost, than by the old lines, with double length of time?—and who does not know how much the intercourse between those two points would be increased at the same cost as now, done in half the time? Who is ignorant how vastly the business and

page image

travel between remote points of the Union have been increased by a diminution, not so much of cost, as of time? Who does not see and feel how many more persons would go for instance, from Richmond to the Virginia Springs, if you carry them in a day and a half, than in three, four or five days, at the same cost? But cost and time act reciprocally, in aid of each other. Save time, and you increase travel and business; increase travel and business, and you save cost. It is this secret, which found out and practiced by northern friends, has enabled them under all the difficulties of sterile soil, ungenial climate and frozen waters, to unite their sea-board with the great west, and to reverse the down-flowing current of trade on its rivers, upwards and backwards, to themselves. Shall we give up all effort to do something of this kind? Can we not at least imitate their example? Must Virginians still cry, a "little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the arms to sleep?" If reason and argument were incapable of recommending the system of railways to us, their universal adoption in Europe and America, ought to satisfy us; and the proverbial sagacity, industry and economy of our northern brethren, have given diem such extended application, that their example might well sway our judgments. If Massachusetts with scarcely one-twentieth of our area, and hardly one-thousandth of our natural advantages in soil and climate, and the great elements of wealth, can build her nine hundred miles of railroad, at a cost between thirty and forty millions, bridging a single stream on one of her lines twenty-seven times, surely we can make ONE with two or three bridges, costing ten or twelve thousand per mile!!

If New York can send her great canal a distance of 360 miles, the entire length of her territory, and unsatisfied with that triumph of energy and power, throws an iron road beside it, from end to end; if scoffing at that still mightier canal, the great Hudson, cut out by the hand of nature herself, between New York and Albany, she places her iron rail upon its very edge from city to city; if yet not satisfied with this right angle of a double line of railroad and river, and railroad and canal, she can still span the hypothenuse with an iron track of between four and five hundred miles from her city to the lakes, bringing those points not in more certain, but in closer and quicker proximity, and all at a cost of millions upon millions, surely Virginia can try her hand at one towards her interior, at a cost of a few thousand!

If Pennsylvania can multiply her canals in endless direction, and stretch her iron arms from Philadelphia 100 miles in the interior, at a cost of $100,000 per mile, to bring her coal to market, surely Virginia can struggle from Richmond, twelve miles, to the coal pits, at one eighth or tenth the cost! And if again, that State can still in another direction stride a dozen times across the Juniata, and leap the Alleghanies, at a cost of nine millions, to clutch in her iron grasp the commerce that floats on the Ohio and Mississippi, certainly Virginia even, can make one step towards the interior, and throw a finger out to Staunton river!! If enterprising and gallant Georgia can send two roads nearly parallel to each other, beyond the heart of her territory, there to unite and run far away, a total distance of 500 miles, to her extreme northwestern border, through a country from which she but yesterday drove the Indian, it does seem that Virginia might at least get to her own mountains!!!

The picture is one of painful contrast; for we may well ask, what have

page image

they, that she hath not?—Nay, what have they all combined, of riches of strength and power, which are not hers? Ours is the great experiment. It rests upon us—the stockholders of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, to reverse this picture, at least in part. We have the means in a great degree to lift her from this apparent humiliation, to her true position of wealth and power.

Look to our road—it stretches from Richmond, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, through a country, in climate and capabilities of production unsurpassed, if equalled, by any line of contiguous territory of equal length in the Union. With a population in the counties laying directly upon it, and immediately interested in it, of 135,000; and of others in Virginia and North Carolina adjacent to its western terminus and which must make this their avenue to market, of at least 200,000 more; and we have an aggregate of 335,000 people, whose production now amount to 1,050,000 bushels of wheat, 33,000,000 lbs. of tobacco and 4,000,000 bushels of corn. The country thus interested, if producing equal to the county of Louisa in wheat, (and it is capable of much greater as their comparative production of tobacco will shew, and only needs her facilities to realize it,) would raise nearly 4,000,000 bushels of wheat, together with the necessary increase in every article of production and consumption to be transported; and excites our astonishment at the supineness that has hitherto neglected it. It moreover, at its western terminus verges upon, and is destined on the one hand directly, or through connection with the Lynchburg and Tennessee Railroad, to reach in Virginia that vast region of mineral wealth, untold in variety, incalculable in value and absolutely illimitable in quantity; as her very mountains of coal and iron, and plaster and salt, lead and copper, can testify. With the other it will grasp that Piedmont region in North Carolina, equally salubrious and productive of agricultural and mineral wealth; furnishing thus for our own State, and our sister Carolina, the means of development and transportation, for an immense territory, whose combined agricultural and mineral resources are unparalleled upon the globe.

It gives again by a short connection through the latter State at Charlotte, in the county of Mecklenburg, the most direct and interesting line of travel and communication between Boston in the north, and New Orleans and the great southern country beyond it in the south. Surely with such facilities, prospects and temptations, to allure us, we cannot flag in the great work. That our road must shortly be extended through North Carolina, no one can doubt who is familiar with the country, and especially who knows the temper of that people upon the subject; requiring as it will, only the intervening link between Danville and Charlotte in that State, to give a continuous line of railway communication from Montreal to Montgomery, Alabama, and through that point, by roads now in contemplation to Vicksburg and Pensacola. This intervening link too, from Danville to Charlotte, presents as favorable, a location for railway as any highland country in America.

If then Baltimore can at a cost of fifty-odd thousand dollars per mile send her road to Cumberland with profit and success and our New England friends can make them in innumerable directions at a higher figure of seventy-odd thousand per mile: and if our friends of Georgia can run roads parallel to each other through her interior, at a cost of $16,000 per 1 mile; it surely cannot be but that on the great line between Canada and Mexico,

page image

through a region whose local capacities are unsurpassed, and whose general advantages on account of health, shortness and direction, are unrivalled, we can make one at a cost not exceeding 10 or $12,000 per mile. The contracts entered into for grading and masonry, wooden; superstructure and iron, furnish us with data justifying this estimate of cost; and the entire survey and expenditure, have been as yet of unequalled economy and cheapness, compared with any line of any thing like equal extent. It is moreover, emphatically a Virginia road, made by Virginia labor, with scarcely a dollar of expenditure out of Virginia. Our contract for iron is of Virginia manufacture from pig metal brought from our mountains, and produced in a large degree by labor hired from the counties upon, and interested in our road. Our contractors' tools, wagons, carts, ploughs, &c., are made and bought of the workshops in Richmond, and in our own State; so that there is scarcely a dollar abstracted from our general State circulation. The operations upon our road have commenced; we have the assurance that immediately after the Christmas holydays, we shall have a greatly increased force upon it, and its prosecution continued with vigor and dispatch. We must then come to it one and all with the spirit and determination which attended its commencement. We must one and all give to it, a zeal and enthusiasm, of which, it is worthy—no doubtful and hesitating aid—no sickly and murmuring assistance—but a genuine and active support—a spirit of warmth, enthusiasm and fire ; and which if given to this subject in one lithe the proportion we devote to others of less immediate interest, must ensure its final and complete success, beyond the anticipations of its most sanguine friends.

Most respectfully,


To the Board of Directors:

Your Committee of Accounts respectuflly submit the following report, viz:—

We have carefully examined the books and accounts of the company, and find them correct, supported by proper vouchers, and herewith present a synoptical statement, shewing the true condition of the affairs of the company on the 1st of December, 1848, corresponding with the balance sheet in detail, on file in the office.

JNO. A. LANCSTER, Com. of Acc'ts.

page image


To the Stockholders of the Richmond
and Danville Railroad Company.


I have the honor to submit to you the report of the president and directors upon the condition of this Company, as required by law.

In order to exhibit the true condition of the Company, I also herewith submit the report of the secretary and treasurer, and that of the superintendent of transportation. From these reports, carefully prepared under their appropriate heads, it will be seen that the aggregate earnings of the road for the fiscal year ending on 1st October, 1857, amounted to $461,918 27, being an increase over those of the preceding year of $40,155 66. Of that amount the net earnings are $255,536 17, being 55 1/3 per cent. upon the whole. Last year the net earnings were 49 1/4 per cent, upon the whole showing that while the business has increased, the cost of running the road has decreased.

On the 1st October, 1856, the floating debt of the Company amounted to the sum of $78,262 93, and on the 1st October, 1857, it amounted to the sum of $29,907 70. Since then it has been still farther reduced in fact, with the exception of the small amount due for Belle Isle bridge, and bills payable maturing in the next two or three months, there is no floating debt. In addition to the payment of the above amount of floating debt, the Board have invested in the purchase of State stocks and the bonds of this Company, $39,325 22, and now hold $18,465 in State stock, the par value of which is one hundred dollars, and $23,600 in bonds of this Company—amounting together to $42,065, at their par value. They have also loaned out, to be paid on demand, with interest, $10,000, secured by the hypothecation of $13,000 of State and bank stocks as collateral security.

These investments have been made as a sinking fund, to meet the debt of $250,000 due on the 1st August, 1859. It was deemed by the Board, more judicious to provide for the payment of this debt, than to declare a dividend to be distributed among the stockholders. First, because the credit of the Company would be thereby placed upon an impregnable basis. Secondly, because

page image

they deemed it inadvisable to commence to declares dividends, with the strong probability of discontinuing them after the present year. And thirdly, because they were enabled to purchase on very satisfactory terms the State stock, payable at short dates, as well as the bonds of this Company, which, as has been stated, will soon become due, and have to be discharged. As long as this condition of things continues, it seems to the Board that it would be wise for the Company to adhere to this policy. If it be pursued, there will be no difficulty in providing for the debt due in 1859 and in 1860; in substituting a heavy rail as it becomes necessary, and in declaring a reasonable dividend before the debt of 1860 becomes due.

It will be seen that the permanent debt of the Company is in round numbers, $1,200,000. Of this, $600,000 is due to the State, upon the condition of its extinguishment in thirty-four years by the payment of 7 per cent. per annum; $200,000 guaranteed bonds, and $400,000 on mortgage. The amount due to the State is now in process of liquidation, and has been reduced by the payment of 7 per cent. per annum, which by the terms of the act will extinguish the debt in thirty-four years from the date of the loan. This, together with all interest due by the Company, has been heretofore punctually paid, and there can be no difficulty in continuing to pay it with equal punctuality hereafter. The guaranteed bonds are due in 1875, and will be met, when due, without difficulty; and the residue of the mortgage bonds swill readily be paid at or before maturity. It is deemed proper to state, in this connection, that under the direction of the Board, every effort has been made to adjust and settle all matters of account between our Company and others, and that nearly all the outstanding claims due to or by the Company have been adjusted, though we regret to add, that amongst the few remaining unsettled is the contested claim for insurance on the Harriet, Augusta.

It will thus be seen that the condition of the Company, without any increase of business, is sound and easy, and that reasonable profit can be confidently relied upon by the stockholders.

We are gratified to be able to state, that the road itself is in good condition. Since the last year there has been no sensible reduction in the value of the rolling stock, including engines and cars, the condition of which reflects credit upon the superintendentdent and his subordinate officers. In addition to the stock on hand last year, which has been kept in very thorough repair, one large engine, one small and two large first-class passenger cars, four baggage cars, and thirty freight cars, have been constructed in our own shops. The engine and cars, we think, are equal, if not superior to any on the road, and have been built for much less than it would have cost to buy them. Our shops, and their condition also, reflect credit upon those entrusted with their management. It is still more gratifying to state, that in consequence of this condition of the road and the rolling stock,

page image

and the fidelity and care of the agents entrusted with their management and control, no accident has occurred during the past year, causing injury to either persons or property transported over it.

The books and accounts have been regularly examined by the committee of accounts, who report them to be correct, and sustained by proper vouchers. They have also been submitted to the committee of investigation, and the system adopted for keeping them has received their approval. We beg leave to add our testimony to the accurate and faithful manner in which the secretary and treasurer has discharged his duties.

The policy of the Board is and has been, to construct all the works of a permanent character. They have re-constructed the freight depot at Richmond, and are building an engine house on the Manchester side of the river of the most durable materials, and in such manner as to guard against fire, as far as practicable. They have also put up a car house, capable of holding three passenger trains, of six cars each. Being much cramped for space in the depot lot, it has been deemed advisable, in re-building the freight house, to provide for the officers of the Company by making an upper story over a part of it, affording ample accommodations, thereby enabling the Company to use the space at present occupied by their officers, in transporting the passengers and their baggage to and from the trains. More space on that part of the depot lot was indispensable. The engine house, when completed, will accommodate twenty-four engines; it is circular in form, and has one of Seller's turn-tables in the centre; and that portion now proposed to be built will accommodate thirteen engines, and when finished, will be both convenient and durable. It is contemplated to extend both the freight and engine houses, when required by the increasing business of the Company, and they have been built with a view to that object sheds have been constructed around nearly all of the roadside depots, and have doubled the means of accommodating the freight upon the road. The tressel work upon the road has been, to some extent, substituted by masonry and embankments, and it is proposed by the Board to remove all that can be so substituted.

The small crop of wheat made in 1857 has caused a falling off in the transportation of that article, and the decline in the price consequent upon the pecuniary pressure, has delayed the delivery of a large part of the crop. Moreover the transportation of coal has been much reduced by the accident to the Midlothian coal mines. These casualties, which are not likely to occur again to the same extent, will account, in a large degree, for the reduction of down freight. If there be an increase of more titan $40,000 in the aggregate business of their road, under these untoward circumstances, it would seem to be reasonable to anticipate a still greater increase for the future.

In September the Company made arrangements to receive and

page image

forward goods and produce; receiving the former from the vessels or merchants here, and delivering the same at Danville or Lynchburg, collecting the freight and charges at these two points, and receiving produce from the same points, and shipping it to such ports as directed, for the owners, collecting the freight and charges from the vessels transporting it. This new system gives great satisfaction, and has been thus far attended with no additional expense to the Company. By this arrangement, merchants at Memphis or other remote towns can receive their goods with dispatch, and pay the whole expenses on their stocks on arrival at home, which must induce a considerable increase of transportation over this road.

The passenger business of the road, though greater than the last year by the sum of $14,483, has been considerably curtailed, we believe, by difficulties growing out of mail and schedule arrangements, which we hope may be so adjusted hereafter as to prevent similar results for the future.

We are still heavy losers by the freight arrangements upon the South Side road, which we have yet in vain endeavored to get adjusted, in accordance with our opinion of the law, sustained by that of the Board of Public Works. It is the purpose of the Board to persevere in those efforts, sand to use all the means in their power to secure the trade and transportation rightfully belonging to this Company. We still hope that what we claim under the law will be accorded to us without a struggle, which we are very desirous to avoid, and which will destroy the harmony heretofore existing between the two companies. The injury and injustice to this road and the community, resulting from the present arrangement, will no longer be submitted to, without resorting to all the means in our power to correct the evil.

We have thus stated the condition of the Company, and might close our report here; but we must add, that in our opinion, the condition of the Company, and its success thus far, while it should be the subject of congratulation, fall far short of what we should anticipate for the future. Already our road is a link in the great chain of railroads from Richmond to Memphis. It has but begun to develope the resources of the country through which it now runs. True, the lands upon its borders have doubled, if not quadrupled in value, and in many instances in productiveness. True, it has changed the character, and to a large extent, the subjects of our husbandry has swelled our profits and liberalized our views; has broken down and removed the jealousy that existed between town and country, and has made us hopeful and confident in the prosperity of our State. But it has as yet but begun to fulfil its mission. It has to extend these and greater blessings not only to our own people, by its extension from its present terminus westward, through the counties on this side of the Blue Ridge—rich in agricultural wealth, now lying dormant for want of outlets—but also that vast country

page image

west of the mountains, not only teeming with undeveloped riches on its surface, but pregnant with an amount of mineral wealth, so vast as to baffle description, only waiting the progress of this great work to burst the bonds by which it has been lettered from the beginning of time; and this is not all, for not content with imparting these blessings to our own people, it must and will break down the wall of partition between this and our sister State of North Carolina, and will bind the States together by an iron band which never can be broken, and teach their people and ours not to distrust each other, but to co-operate in a joint and noble effort to unite not only them and us, but our friends and neighbors and fellow-citizens even to the uttermost portions of our common country. When this has been done, then shall we enjoy the full fruition of those advantages resulting from this great enterprise, once so much derided. When its Briarian arms shall have been extended to grasp the trade and travel of the West, Southwest and South, it will then become a thoroughfare worthy of the conception of its originators. Then will it be an artery in the grand system of American roads, pouring persons and produce—the life-blood of its prosperity—into the bosom of our beloved State and beautiful Metropolis. Then, indeed, will it be a monument attesting the wisdom and forecast of its first and earliest friends and projectors, one amongst the chief of whom, alas, has not lived to witness the success of his devoted and untiring efforts.

By order of the Board of Directors,

page image

About this Document

  • Source: Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the Stockholders of the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company
  • Publisher: H. K. Ellyson
  • Published: Richmond
  • Date: 1848