N&W in 1910--Freight rates

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Thu Mar 25 10:40:10 EDT 2010

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
October 14, 1910

[This lengthy article cites examples of rate disparity favoring Roanoke over Bluefield, and even Lynchburg over Bluefield, on such things as a barrel of flour, hay from Toledo, OH, sardines from Eastport, ME, and beans from California. The main historical interest is given in the following paragraph.]

A prominent shipper said yesterday that the way Roanoke got her cheaper haul is of interest, as it takes us back to the time when there was no interstate commerce commission [sic, not capitalized] and railroads were ruled by divine right and pure bluff. The story as told is as follows: The Chesapeake and Ohio wanted to got Roanoke business, so they went to a number of Roanoke shippers and told them that if they would route their freight over the Chesapeake and Ohio that road would give them the Lynchburg rate and rebate to them the difference on the haul to Roanoke. The shippers, eager to save themselves money, agreed, as in those days it was legitimate to receive rebates. The result was that the Norfolk and Western found the Chesapeake and Ohio was getting the business via Lynchburg, so to secure all the benefits which they could for themselves the Norfolk and Western reduced its rates to Roanoke so they came inside the Chesapeake and Ohio figures. Roanoke still has that rate and Bluefield is still plodding along without any advantage except the general one they have received from time to time when the Norfolk and Western has generally raised freight rates along with other roads.
Gordon Hamilton
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