AR, SA&G 5/1/1861 P

Annual Report of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf RR
as of May 1, 1861,
President's Report
President's Report
Office of the Savannah, A. & Gulf R. R. Co.
Savannah, May 1st, 1861
   The President and Directors respectfully submit to the Stockholders, the following Report upon the affairs of the Company during the past fiscal year.
   The statement of the Treasurer hereto appended fully exhibits the present condition of the Finances of the Company.
   The Gross Earnings have been as follows, viz:
From Freight $146,993.38
From Passage 78,268.34
Due for three quarters Mail Service 8,853.86
   Total Gross Earnings $234,115.58
   To which should be added $871 of installments collected on the Capital Stock, making $234,986.58. Of this sum, $8,853.86, due by the Government of the late United States for transportation of mails, we have no expectation of realizing, and in losing it, the Company may well congratulate itself, that it is no longer the pensioner of a government, which has at no time recognized the true importance of its enterprize, and has been constantly deficient in promptness and regularity of payment. The amount of $9,394.13 due by the Agent of Transportation, is chiefly on account of Saw Mill Men, whose credits have not reached maturity.
   The funded debt of the Company amounts to $329,200, $19,000 of 7 per cent. bonds payable in ten years, having been issued for the purchase of the Williamson Tract, on the Western side of the Depot, and in settlement of the claims of Mr. Wm. Way, for damages for the Right of Way.
   The Board having recently purchased 20 acres of land adjoining the Depot on its Eastern side another issue of 7 per cent. bonds, payable in ten years, is about to be made on this account. The funded debt of the Company may be properly, therefore, said to be as follows:
Bonds guaranteed by the City of Savannah $320,000
Bonds issued to Estate of W. P. Bowen 10,200
Bonds issued to Estate of Williamson 12,000
Bonds issued to W. I. Way 7,000
Bonds issued to Planter's Bank 12,000
   Total funded debt $341,200
   The floating debt of the Company amounts to $110,7825.63. This sum, so largely in excess of the amount shown in our last fiscal statement, has been created chiefly by the necessary expenditures for Rolling Stock, and motive power; for buildings in the Savannah Depot, and for the embankments of the Altamaha, and the Great Ogechee. We will not here give vent to now common place murmurs, over the depression of the times, restricting our resources and forcing us to seek unexpected credit.
   This Company has continued the operation and maintenance of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad during its whole progress, and it finally having become necessary to establish some basis for the division of the earnings of the two Roads, a committee from each Board was appointed for this purpose. The Report of the Joint Committees suggested the following basis of adjustment which was adopted by both Boards:
   "Ascertain first the earnings of both Roads from the time the cars reached the first station of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, until it reached the next station. Then deduct all expenses of both Roads including repairs of both Roads, and keeping up rolling stock; the net income then to be divided to each Road in proportion to capital invested; and so on, from station to station, as the Road has progressed, or, as it shall progress , as long as this arrangement shall be continued by both Companies -- the rolling stock at the termination of this agreement, to be left in as good condition, as it is at present, and when any part of the same shall have been so worn or used as to be unfit for service, the same shall be replaced by and at the joint expense from the joint earnings, and charged, to general expense account of both Roads.
   This arrangement shall be subject to abrogation on three months' notice by either party."
   This rule of division of earnings, which was not arrived at without mature reflection and a careful analysis of the peculiar relations of the two companies, would seem to be equitable and mutually liberal. The result of the adjustment of all accounts up to this date shows a balance in favor of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad of $20,146.40.
   The last annual Report of this Company indicated the probability of the early determination of a Railroad connection between the Savannah, Albany & Gulf, or the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, and the Pensacola & Georgia Railroad. Negotiations which were the subject of the most earnest discussion have finally resulted in the establishment of a connection 47 miles in length between Station 12, (Lawton,) on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, and the Live Oak Station on the Pensacola & Georgia Railroad, being about 22 miles from Lake City and about 12 miles from Columbus, near the Suwanee River. A connection further westward or further eastward would have been preferable to this Company, and of more immediate value to the people of both States; but in the failure to obtain a more liberal line, this has been finally accepted and let to responsible contractors to be completed in July, 1862. We would here, however, state that the contract being based entirely upon stock payments may be avoided by contractors upon a hostile invasion of the State.
   The line of connection thus agreed upon, will doubtless subserve the most important objects of a connection with Florida. A line to Lake City, which has been earnestly urged, would have presented the greatest conveniences to the country East of the Suwanee; a line from Quitman, or its vicinity, to Monticello would be to West Florida what the Lake City line would have been to East Florida. The connection now however established may be regarded as a compromise between the two, and may, at least for a time, subserve the objects of both in any important degree.
   As already stated the time for the completion of the construction upon this line is July, 1862. The very level character of the country is favorable in an eminent degree to cheap railway construction. Its sandy soil will afford the best possible road bed for permanency or for original formation by easy labor, while it is covered by an almost unbroken forest of virgin pine, affording abundant material for superstructure and bridging. The cost of 102 miles of the Main trunk, involving the cost of passing over several rivers requiring lengthy trestles and bridges, has amounted to about $9,400 per mile.
   There is perhaps no country in the world so favorable to economical railway construction as that surrounding and drained by the Okefinokee Swamp. The country dips into this swamp by an almost imperceptible gradient from an elevation above mean tide water at Savannah of about 160 feet. Strange as it may appear, Station 10, (Glenmore,) lies 154.872 feet, Station 11, (Homersville,) 179.897 feet, Station 13, (Stockton,) 192 feet, or an average of 175.589 feet above mean tide water, and about 150 feet above the Depot at Savannah. These facts alone would seem to show the practicability of draining the swamp, which was, however, fully established by the survey of Mr. R. L. Hunter, made in 1857, under a commission of the State. The levels calculated by Mr. Hunter show the surprising result that the average elevation of the Okefinokee Swamp is 116.18 above mean tide water, and about 90 feet above the depot at Savannah.
   By the construction of the Florida connection of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad, the Okefinokee Swamp is actually enclosed on three of its sides by the great highway of modern commerce, which each of these railroads actually cross some of its greater ramifications. Will it ever be penetrated by a vigorous and enlightened industry, bringing the light of the prolific sun into its dreary shades, and redeeming its luxuriant coverts from the waste of primeval nature. 
   The track of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad reached the Town of Thomasville, in the county of Thomas, 200 miles from Savannah, on the 30th of last month. We are gratified to know that the enterprise of the Directors of that company has not been checked by the political and financial convulsions of the country, and that with the same energy and determination which has characterized their previous labors they have renewed their contracts for the extension to Bainbridge. Abandonment would be almost a crime against this most important enterprise, involving, in its final completion to the Gulf, the most momentous results to the commercial and social power of the Confederate States. If important to commerce and society as a certain, short and secure medium of transportation between the Atlantic and the Gulf, it is equally important in its military results. It would render the occupation of the Tortugas and of Key West by a hostile force comparatively innocuous and useless.
   The rapid extension of the Atlantic & Gulf Road has produced the most satisfactory results to this Company, to the country thorough which it has passed, and to the commercial interests of Savannah. The gross income from the operation of the two Roads has been doubled in the past two months; it should be trebled in another year.
   The results of the past year hardly indeed afford a proper basis of estimate of the operations of the coming year, the shortness of the crop of 1860, and the national disturbances having deprived the country of a part of its resources, and forced every interest to an extraordinary economy. With the restoration of peace and security, and the vigorous renewal of our industries under the protection of a Southern Government, legislating for Southern interests alone, we entertain no fears for the future prosperity of the enterprise. Although these Rail Road has been built through a county scarcely populated, until their tracks were laid, they are already successful beyond the anticipations of their early projectors. Their prosperity must accumulate with a denser population, with the development of new, and now untried industries, and with the extension of the fertile fields of Southern Georgia.
   The value of the taxable property in the counties through which the two Rail Roads pass, exclusive of the county of Chatham, amounts to $41,000,000. If to this amount, be added the value of the taxable property of other counties, which will discharge their productions over this line, the sum will be $47,000,000; about one thirteenth of the whole taxable property of Georgia. The income of the two Companies amounts to nearly one half of one per centum of this sum, which has been chiefly realized, since the passage of the Withlacoochee River, in October last.
   If we may be permitted to institute a comparison with the early experience of the Central Rail Road, under nearly similar circumstances, it will be surprising to find that the result is not unfavorable to the future prospects of this enterprise. The Central Rail Road was completed to Macon, 190 miles, and a train passed over the whole line on the 13th of October, 1843. The total receipts of the Company from November 1st 1842 to November 1st, 1843, amounted to $184,919. The Atlantic & Gulf Rail Road was completed to Thomasville, 200 miles from Savannah, and a train passed over the whole line on the 17th of April last. The total cash receipts of the two Companies from May 1st, 1860 to May 1st, 1861 amounted to $215,967.59. It may not then be unsafely asserted that the unaided local business of these two Companies compares favorably with the early results of one of the most successful rail road enterprises in this country. Assuming the valuable basis of calculation afforded by the history of the Central Rail Road, the prospects of the second great rail road enterprise of Savannah are not without the most cheering promise of success. The value of produce carried over our two Roads in the past year has amounted to about $1,500,000. It may be safely assumed that the amount of return freight is equal, making the total amount of transportation, say, $3,000,000. The freight on this amount is about four per centum, while the receipts from passage, mails, etc., should be three-fourths nearly of the receipts from freight. An estimate upon those data would make the earnings of our two companies for the past fiscal year $210,000, while the actual receipts exceed this amount. Supposing then that our Freights in the coming year amount to one-third increase, the total receipts will reach $280,000; if our freights double, as may not be unreasonably anticipated under ordinary circumstances, our receipts will reach $420,000 in the fiscal term of 1861-62. 
   We beg leave to refer to the subjoined report of Superintendent Fulton for a full statement of our Rolling Stock and its condition, and of the general condition of the line, and to his detailed tables of transportation and other valuable data. Our experience has convinced us of the practicability and economy of embanking a large portion of trestle, which was originally constructed to test the water way of the line; it has proved a most unfortunate feature in the road, daily becoming an increasing source of exhausting expense. Every effort will now be directed to the removal of all the wood work possible on the line, and reducing the whole road to effectual permanency. It will involve a large outlay from the income of the next year, but it will forever remove an expenditure which may be said to be doubled every five years.
John Screven