Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/158

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

A correspondent of the Providence Tribune registered strong protest, as late as April 26, against the nuisance which the New York and New Haven Railroad Company is maintaining in the Elmwood district of the city. All day long the section is shrouded in a pall of dense, evil-smelling smoke and cinders, vomited forth by locomotives. The chief offenders are the short suburban trains, the expresses and heavy freights not causing half the bother made by the little fellows.

In and around New York City the aid of the Public Utility Commission had to be invoked to abate the nuisances maintained by these two roads in the matter of smoke. The New York Central in January last was ordered, "directed and required to cease and desist from the use of soft coal on any of the engines used by it on its New York and Putnam Division while within the corporate limits of the city and to institute and continue the use of hard coal on its engines."

The New York, New Haven and Hartford road was "directed and required to cease and desist from suffering or permitting in any manner the emission of black smoke from the stacks of the engines in use on the company's lines" while in the Harlem River Terminal Yard, and moreover it was ordered to cover all soft coal fires in engines with coke and to continually feed and replenish them with coke while the engines are in the yard.

Here we have the striking spectacle of two railroads being compelled by law to do certain things (and doing them, too) at one terminus, which they declare at the other end they can not do on the score of economy. At the one end (New York) there is a strong and effective law designed to protect the interests of the public; at the other, there is no such law, for, alas! the Massachusetts Railroad Commission, admirable though it is in many respects, finds that it is powerless to suppress the smoke nuisance.

The most striking defense of the railroad smoke nuisance, however, comes from the president of the Erie Eailroad, one Frank D. Underwood, who is on record in a letter to Monsignor Sheppard, of Jersey City, rector of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Michael, that

There is a good deal of nonsense about coal smoke being injurious. There is no healthier class of people in the world than those employed about soft coal mines, and they are begrimed from head to foot the majority of their lives.

Permit me to state that men occupying leading positions, such as yours, are expected to allay senseless clamor against corporations instead of adding fuel to it, and it is hoped we may have the influence of your valuable efforts in our direction rather than adversely. Many of the people who gain a livelihood through the Erie Railroad I have no doubt are parishioners of yours and you should be able to ascertain from them whether there is more black smoke than is absolutely necessary in the operation of a railroad.

In conclusion, the Erie Railroad was chartered fifty years ago, and it is identical with other interests in that it pays taxes. Is not something due to it, therefore? And was it not on the ground in advance of most of its complain-