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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter VI: The one-crop period,   pp. 121-142 PDF (5.1 MB)

Page 142

figure and the grain buyers brought suit against the road for vio-
lation of implied contract. Even the building of the railroad
from Chicago to Madison offered but temporary relief, and the
same abuses again called forth the same cry of distress. For a
time the struggle between the river transportation to St. Louis
and the roads connecting the Mississippi with the lakes resulted
in favorable rates to towns along the Mississippi, while Dane
county farmers paid nearly the rates formerly charged for haul-
ing by wagon. After this war had been settled in favor of the
eastern route, and it looked as though fair play might as well be
practised, the different roads began underbidding one another for
the carrying trade from the great wheat fields of the west, and
the wheat grower of Iowa and Minnesota received more for the
same grade of wheat than did the discouraged farmer of Dane
countv three hundred miles nearer the market.32  Thus the strug-
gle for transportation facilities was continuous and bitter, and
not till after the farmer had been forced out of wheat produc-
tion as a main business was anything approaching fairness in
freight rates obtained. In all this time-a period of nearly twenty
years-it does not appear that the farmers had been able to exert
any telling influence in the struggle for their rights. Here was
a case where nothing short of state regulation could set matters
right, and although vastly in the majority, the farmers, it is pain-
fully evident, were not the dominant force in state politics. One
explanation of this is seen in their slowness to comprehend the
fact that railroads, and railroads alone, must be the means of car-
rying grain: they never gave up the belief until the transporta-
tion question dwindled in importance, with the change to less
bulky productions, that competition between railroads and river
or canal transportation, was the only source of relief.33
"Madison Dcmocrat, May 31, 1869.
" Madison Democrat, August 18, 1869.

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