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on the La Crosse Division with eastward-bound trains on the Northern Division, will be accepted by you as reasonable.
That the managers of the railway company may be fully represented, I enclose herewith a copy of Manager Merrill's letter.
Should the explanations therein made be less than satisfactory, have the goodness to notify me of the exceptions taken, in order that further effort may be made by the Commission, in behalf of complainants.
JOHN W. HOYT,
A. H. Edwards to Commissioner Hoyt.
BEAVER DAM, December 11, 1875. DEAR SIR. Your favor of the 7th inst, was received on the evening of the 9th inst, also your kind favor containing General Manager S. S. Merrill's favor to you of the 9th instant was received by last evening's mail.
The explanations made and the alterations therein reported I doubt not will prove satisfactory to most if not all interested, as I trust no one desires to be unreasonable in his complaints. Thanking you for your prompt action, I remain as ever, Yours, truly,
A. H. EDWARDS,
CONCERNING RAILWAY REPORTS.
D. M. Kelly to the Commissioners.
OFFICE OF GREEN BAY AND MINNESOTA R. R. Co., GREEN BAY, August 11, 1875. GENTLEMEN:-Your communication of July 29th, to H. Ketcham, Esq., president of this company, has been forwarded to me, and I have to answer as follows: Before referring directly to the subject matter of your letter, let me give you some little account of the history and present condition of this company.
In 1871 forty miles of our road were built and put in operation; in 1872 one hundred and ten miles more of the road were constructed and put in operation; in 1873, sixty-one miles more were constructed, and in December of that year the road was first operated through to the Mississippi at Winona.
The company had no land-grant, and from the local aid obtained from municipal corporations realized less than $2,000 a mile of road built.
The road was constructed rapidly, through a new and sparsely settled country, and since its completion the company has had to contend with hard-times and adverse State legislation; and the latter cause far more than the former has prevented an extension west of the Mississippi, which promised much to that part of the the State through which this road runs, as well as to the company itself.
From the first to the present time the earnings of the road have not been sufficient to meet the operating expenses, and the five millions of dollars (about) which the road has cost, in cash, has so far been entirely unproductive to the directors. This much that you may understand our situation at the present time.
You now ask this company to make to you a report during the present month, giving you in detail full infomation regarding its condition, cost of its road, repairs, business, contracts, etc., etc.
We have always been obliged to study and practice economy in our office expenses, as well as in other particulars, and our accounts have not been kept in a way to enable us to fill out the report required by you without great labor, expenditure of much time and employment of extra help, and we are not in a condition to be put to such expense. It would take six clerks at least a month to fill up the details, and get our accounts in shape to fill the items of the report, and we have not the means to pay for their services.
The force now in the general office is barely sufficient to do the current business of the company, and to further reduce expenses a reduction of the force is to be made during the present month. Our books and papers are open to your examination; and the hard times, and particularly the adverse legislation for the past two winters in this State have imposed so many burdens on us, in common with all other new roads, that we rather court than avoid scrutiny of our affairs and condition, knowing that investigation will show
how foolish and destructive to its best interest has been the policy of this State in inaugurating and adhering to a system of legislation which has crippled and stunted great and important enterprises, instead of extending to them wise, generous, and encouraging protection and support.
I am, gentlemen, respectfully yours,
D. M. KELLY,
Commissioner Hoyt to D. M. Kelly, in reply.
OFFICE OF RAILOAD COMMISSIONERS,
MADISON, WIS., August 13, 1875.
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 11th inst., in reply to ours of the 29th of July, requesting a report from your company, in conformity with the blank form previously forwarded, is at hand. We understand pretty well the financial condition of your company, and fully appreciate the skill and economy with which its road has been constructed and managed. We have also pointed out the serious objections that may be urged against the "Potter-law," and are free to admit, that this law has been made the occasion of such representations and misrepresentations as have increased the difficulty of borrowing money for railroad purposes. But inasmuch as the law has only in a very small degree affected your receipts, and the misrepresentations which have damaged the credit of the State are largely the fruit of unwisdom on the part of railroad officials, we are unable to see matters in just the light in which they evidently appear to you. As you will see by our published report, as well as by our several communications and the blank form herein referred to, we attach great importance to full and explicit reports from all railroad companies. Had such reports been made by them from the beginning many errors into which some companies have fallen would have been avoided, and it is even probable that the radical legislation of which you complain would not have been. The people are naturally jealous and suspicious of great corporations, and certainly the easiest way to disarm them is by making the fullest possible showing of all business transactions.
It is upon this theory that we have adopted the form of report approved by the Commissioners of Illinois, Minnesota and Wiscon
sin in conference, and now urge upon all the companies of the State the importance of a compliance with our request for answers to the questions therein contained.
We have authority to subpoena witnesses and compel answers to be made, but do not wish to resort to this method where it can be avoided.
So far as your company is concerned, we are frank to say that we are especially desirous of a full report for the reason that in some respects your road is likely to afford us a good standard of comparison with others.
We are aware that a compliance will involve some additional trouble and expense. But it is altogether probable that reports such as these we now ask for will be required in the future, and will cost but little if any more than the incomplete reports now annually submitted.
When the system of keeping railway accounts and records has once been adapted to the new form, we trust that you will do the best you can to fill out the blanks in question.
No other company has declined to do so, and some have already sent in their returns.
JOHN W. HOYT,
D. M. Kelly to Commissioner Hoyt.
OFFICE OF G. B. & MINN. R. R. Co.,
GREEN BAY, Wis., August 18, 1875.
DEAR SIR: I am in receipt of your letter of the 13th inst., and have carefully noted its contents.
When, in referring to the Potter-law, you state "But inasmuch as the law has only in a very small degree affected your receipts," you do not justly estimate the damage suffered by this company be cause of the anti-railroad legislation of the last two winters in this State.
The location of our road is such that we are obliged to compete with the Chicago and Northwestern Company and with the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway for freight and passengers at and for a number of points, and we are therefore obliged, in order to so
compete, to adopt the rates prescribed for these roads by the Potter-law. Then, the freight carried by us is nearly all of a heavy, coarse nature, on which the Potter-law makes the lowest figure and the greatest deduction.
I notice that you are inclined to charge up the damaged credit of the State and the unwillingness of eastern capitalists to further invest in railroads in this State rather to the lack of wisdom on the part of railroad officials, and to misrepresentations regarding the legislation referred to, rather than to that legislation itself. It is a fact, I believe, that capital in as well as out of the State, cannot now be secured for the construction and operation of railroads, and having negotiated, by personal effort, within the last five years in the Eastern States, for mortgage and municipal bonds to the amount of five million dollars, I speak understandingly when I say that the refusal of eastern capitalists to invest more of their money in railroads in this State is caused not so much by a fear that railroads can not pay if operated under the present rates established by law as by a feeling that the recent railroad legislation indicates a lack of conscience and business morality in the people, and a disinclination to pretect foreign capital invested here. However, I do not desire to discuss the merits or demerits of the Potter-law with you at this time. It covers too much ground, and the railroad side of the question has been already fully presented by abler railroad men than myself.
Regarding the report which you desire our company to make, of course, if your board insist upon it, we will do the best we can with it, and will forward it at the earliest possible moment. We feel, however, that under the circumstances it is asking too much of us, and will put us to unnecessary expense and trouble.
JOHN W. HOYT,
D. M. KELLY,
Commissioner Hoyt to D. M. Kelly.
OFFICE OF RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS,
MADISON, WIS., August 24, 1875.
DEAR SIR:-Although your esteemed favor of the 18th does not