which it is important to preserve. This consideration appears to be decisive, for the most serious evils would result if the obligations now imposed upcompanies were lessened or removed. It is suggested by Mr. Goodman that these agents or messengers should give certificates of the quantity of freight transported, the number of miles traveled, and the amount earned by the road, which should be the only vouchers used in settlements with the companies. It would seem that this object could not be attained, as it would not be practicable for the messengers traveling in charge of the trains to superintended the weighing of freights at way stations unless the trains were delayed until they could inspect and note the shipments. Under the present system the railroad transportation accounts are adjusted upon vouchers signed by officers and agents of the Government, and only actual weights and distances are paid for. All orders for transportation specify the points from and to which freights are carried, and a freight list of bill of lading is sent by the consignor to the consignee. The policy of building cars has been adopted to some extent, but it is deemed more advisable to transfer them to the railroads, as thereby the necessary inspection and repairs are attended to, while if left in the possession of the Government and used upon the various roads to particular company could be made responsible for their being kept in good condition. The importance of encouraging the establishment of rolling-mills cannot be overestimated, and I fully concur in the suggestion that they should receive the fostering protection of the Government whenever the private enterprise of the country seeks to construct them. In what mode or to what extent this protection should be afforded I am not prepared to suggest.
The mill of Mr. M. A. Cooper, in Western Georgia, has not escaped my attention. Some time since application was made to Mr. Cooper to supply sheet-iron to meet requisitions made on this department for various articles, but the declined because his operations in the manufacture of bar iron and rails were too profitable to justify a change in his present machinery. Nor, judging from his estimate of the profits to be derived from their manufacture, do I think his property could be purchased upon favorable terms. Mr. Goodman conjectures that the cost of erecting an effective rolling-mill would be from $100,000 to $150,000. Mr. Cooper's calculation is that the net profit upon his manufacture of bar iron and rails will be $150,000 during the current year. If therefore the policy of establishing such mills be adopted, other localities should be examined.
In conclusion, while this department will receive with much satisfaction any suggestions or propositions looking to the adoption of a system which will secure more complete, prompt, and economical transportation of public supplies than is afforded by that now in use, I must be permitted to express the doubt whether any substantial improvement can at present be effected. Mr. Goodman's letter is herewith returned. *
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. C. MYERS,
*See January 25, p. 880.
57 R R-SERIES IV, VOL I