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

Chapter III: Tobacco,   pp. 155-175 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 171

  It is believed by many that the high price of land in Dane and
neighboring counties is chiefly owing to the tobacco industry.
There is an element of truth in this, but it is far from being all
truth. Between i88o and 1885. the period when tobacco culture
made its greatest gains, the price of land did make remarkable
advances. On section 20, Christiana, a farm which sold
near the beginning of this period for forty dollars an acre
was later divided up into smaller lots, and with no improvements,
some of the forties sold at a hundred dollars an acre. Numerous
instances might be given from which, if taken alone, it would ap-
pear that tobacco was responsible for about all the advance in land
values for the past twenty years. But it may also be shown that
worn out wheat farms in the southwestern part of the country sold
as low as ten dollars in the '70's and came up to twenty, forty,
and fifty, within the next twenty years when turned into dairy
farms."  Moreover, the average value of land in Windsor and
Bristol is about equal to that of Albion and Christiana TJ yet the
former towns have been insignificant in tobacco production.
Again, it is instructive to notice the value of land at some distance
away; four hundred miles directly west of Dane county, in the
northwestern part of Iowa, ordinary farms are selling as high as
seventy-five dollars per acre, and it is a half-day's ride on a train to
the nearest patch of tobacco. If all these prices are even indi-
rectlv the result of tobacco growing the western farmer has no
cause to complain of the tobacco tariff. The fact of the matter
is that a complexity of causes has resulted in the rise in price.
  As to the higher price given for choice tobacco land there can
be no dispute, but where the land is not already in shape for
planting, the premium paid for it is not great. It takes very little
figuring to see that a man wishing to go into tobacco culture can
afford to pay for the superior richness of the soil which repeated
applications of manure afford. A twenty-acre farm with even
modest improvements in the way of buildings, and with half, or
more, of the land brought up to the highest point of fertility can
"As an Instance of this a farm In the town of Vermont. Section 23. sold
for eleven dollars per acre In 1873. and Is easily worthy fifty dollars now.
7"See chapter on Land Values.

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