Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/157

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153
THE SMOKE NUISANCE
RAILROADS AND THE SMOKE NUISANCE
By CLINTON ROGERS WOODRUFF
AMERICAN CIVIC ASSOCIATION

IT is estimated, so says the Scientific American, that 150,000,000 tons of coal are used annually by the railways of the United States, out of which but 7,500,000 tons are used in drawing the trains, while 142,500,000 tons go up the smoke-stack. And a recent English writer, John W. Graham, declares that a locomotive uses 312 tons of coal per day on an average, and scatters the smoke of 36 pounds of coal over every mile on fast trains.

These two statements give us some conception of the appalling extent of the smoke nuisance so far as the railroads are concerned, and fill us with amazement and incredulity. How is it possible that railroads which are run for the profit of the stockholders, or at least are presumably so run if we may credit the statements made before legislative committees by their representatives, can permit so great a source of waste to have gone so long unchecked? Why is it that so many railroad officials have opposed in every way possible efforts to reduce the evil?

In Boston, according to one observer who has carefully studied the situation, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, through its officials, curtly refuses to discuss the matter or to make any change in its smoke-producing methods, and he made substantially the same charge against the New York, New Haven and Hartford road. Z. A. Willard in an open letter to the Boston Herald (on March 7 last) declared that

Having been deeply interested for many months past in an endeavor to prevent or mitigate the smoke nuisance resulting from the use of soft coal on locomotives engaged in suburban traffic, I was called in consultation by the Boston management of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad and informed that under no circumstances would this company make any change involving expense. Economy was now the ruling consideration.

When informed that the nuisance could be entirely obviated by the use of coke — coke being no more expensive than soft coal — the answer was the same, "Economy."

When reminded that eighteen locomotives had been constructed for the suburban traffic designed especially for burning anthracite, the answer was the same, "Anthracite costs money, and would not be considered." So that if so small a matter as the prevention of annoying smoke will not be considered by the New York Central authorities, tunnels, electricity, etc., may as well be relegated to the limbo of the impossible.