Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farmers Delivering Milk to a Trolley Car (1901)

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, farmers bring milk to a platform where a trolley car picks it up and ships it off to customers (processors, creameries) in a nearby town. In 1901 the farmer's life was changing as new technology and efforts by the government to ease their lives began to have effect.

From "The Countryman Has the Better of It," by W. Frank McClure, appearing in THE WORLD'S WORK, October 1901, p. 1311. Neither the location nor the electric railway company are identified in the article, which says,

"The trolley line is undoubtedly the greatest single financial boon to the country districts. Aside from its advantage as a carrier of pas­sengers, the establishment of its freight and truck lines means economies to the farmer of which he did not dream a quarter of a century ago. Farmers have been known to send to market as small a parcel as a pound of butter. The trolley car can carry freight at a rate of five or ten cents for a few miles, while the steam railroad's rate for freight is never less than twenty-five cents.

"Near a large city the farms along a trolley line become suburban property inhabited by the rich, who handsomely improve the land. But a conservative estimate of the increase on land in exclusively rural districts may be placed at forty per cent.

"As in the case of the centralization of schools, the trolley systems bring back to rural life the country-loving people who went to the cities to escape isolation. The rural population is also increased by many city people who desire to build fine houses, but who will build them where taxes are lower than in the cities. The telephone also is doing its important work in putting rural life on the same level of conveniences as town life. Thus, by all these agencies, the country-dwelling man is getting not only his share of modern advancement, but he has his fresh air and his greenery and his independence to boot. He can preserve; his own individuality and still live in the middle of the world."

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