N&W in 1912--Bristol shippers

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Fri Mar 2 22:43:50 EST 2012

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Wed., April 3, 1912

Delegation Calls on Officials of Norfolk and Western--Suit Will Be Filed
According to the Herald-Courier, a large delegation of Bristol business men, representing the jobbing and milling interests of that city, has just returned to Bristol from Roanoke where, together with representatives of these interests throughout southwest Virginia, they held a conference with Vice- President Davant and General Manager Ruffin, of the Norfolk and Western, in regard to freight rates. The shippers asked relief' in the way of an extension of the "Virginia cities rate," but were refused this concession.and as a result have retained counsel and will at once institute an action before the interstate commerce commission.
The appeal of the shippers of this section for a reduction follows the decision of the interstate commerce commission in the case of the Bluefield Jobbers' Association against the Norfolk and Western. The commission compelled the Norfolk and Western to make an important reduction in the Bluefield case. It is said that one of the grounds which Vice President Davant, of the Norfolk and Western, urged against the reduction in the Bluefield case was that it would work a hardship on the shippers of the Bristol territory of southwest Virginia. However, when the delegation of shippers called on the officials they declined to give them relief. They asked that they be given a rate similar to that which the interstate commerce commission gave Bluefield. They were told that the road would not make the reduction and that if the shippers got what they were asking they would have to get it from the interstate commerce commission and as a result the shippers will institute suit at once.
The Bristol business men who were among the delegation include: E. W. King, of E. W. King Co.; H. W. Powers, of Mitchell-Powers Hardware Co.; J. T. Cecil, of Interstate Hardware and Supply Co.; M. Sparager, of Sparager Mill Co.; J. F. Ring, of Twin City Mills; W. A. D. Faucette, of Faucette Co; P. C. Jennings, of Huntsman Bros. Co.,, and W. L. Morley, of Morley Bros. Co.
All of the territory of the Norfolk and Western, west of Salem, including Norton, has been in one freight group and has a rate considerably higher than the "Virginia cities" rate extending to all points east of and including Roanoke. This is on western shipments from Pittsburg, Columbus, Cincinnati and kindred points. Frequently shipments pass through Bristol from the west consigned to points east of Bristol that have advantage of the "Virginia cities" rate and are shipped at a less rate of freight than to Bristol. At the conference at Roanoke one of the shippers stated that he lived east [west?] of Roanoke and that day had received a car of wheat upon which he paid $37 more freight than the railroad charged for hauling the freight to Roanoke, a longer haul. He said that he was receiving a car of sash and doors from Chicago and that although the haul to his station was less than to Roanoke, he would be compelled to pay $75 more freight than a man in Roanoke would pay on the same shipment.
The shippers say they will make a determined fight for the reduction, such as was granted Bluefield. It will mean thousands of dollars annually to the shipping interests of Bristol alone and will give an impetus to commerce here. The suit will be instituted at once and pushed by the shippers, in the hope of getting relief as soon as possible.
[In both the Bluefield case and the Bristol case involving freight shipments from the west, the N&W was charging more for shipments to those two cities than it was charging for shipments to cities farther east, such as Roanoke, even though the distances were greater in the latter case. This was known as "long and short haul rate discrimination." This type discrimination was prohibited by the Act to Regulate Commerce of 1887, but various Supreme Court rulings emasculated this prohibition until it was restored by the Mann-Elkins act of 1910. I don't know how the N&W (and certainly other railroads) were able to continue the discrimination for another two years unless the ICC had its hands too full to bring action on its own and had to wait for some third party, such as the Bristol shippers, to complain. Anyone know?]

[I noticed one of the Bristol business men bringing suit against the N&W was E. W. King, of E. W. King Co., and I knew that noted railroad author Ed King was from Bristol and is also known as E. W. King, Jr. So I checked with him, and he admitted that the E. W. King suing the N&W was his grand grandfather. Well, Ed has done so much to disseminate N&W history and lore that I, for one, can forgive him for his ancestor's action.]

Gordon Hamilton
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