NP, SP 1/4/1862

From the Sugar Planter {West Baton Rouge, La.}
January 4, 1862
Baton Rouge, Grosse-Tete & Opelousas Railroad
   We have been favored by Col. J. V. Duralde, the President of the Baton Rouge, Grosse-Tete & Opelousas Railroad, with a copy of his annual report to the General Assembly, from which we extract some interesting items.
   The business of the road for the year had slightly decreased, owing to the war, but had, under the circumstances, exceeded the expectations of the Company. The receipts were over $25,000, from which deduct the expenses, about $13,000, and the remainder appears as the nett profits of the year. The President has every assurance that but for the war, the receipts would have reached $60,000 for the same period. In this he is sustained by the other officers of the Company, and many citizens residing along the route and at the different termini.
   The liabilities of the road are briefly summed up, and show a total of $95,856.05. To meet which, the company hold assets to the amount of $274,691.89, which leaves a balance in favor of the company of $178,835.84.
   This statement shows a healthy condition of affairs, and reflects the highest credit upon the able management of the road. It would have been much better for stockholders in other roads of the State, had similar economy and management been displayed in their operations. Here we have a finished road of near thirty miles in length, and yet it does not owe a dollar that it cannot pay at maturity, besides leaving a heavy surplus of assets on hand, to which may be added the road itself and the numerous buildings belonging to the company. If a better showing can be made by any road in the Confederate States, we have yet to learn of it.
   The State is a stockholder in the road, so far, to the amount of $70,000, which under a special act of the Legislature, is a subscription of one-fourth of the sum total paid in by other stockholders. The President in his report urges the General Assembly to give the State's assistance towards its completion to the Atchafalaya river. The late State Convention authorized the Legislature to grant assistance to railroads at the rate of $6,000 per mile where the road is cleared, graded and ready to receive the iron. The last section, from Livonia to the Atchafalaya, is in that condition. With the bonds of the State, which will amount to $72,000 more, the section can be finished, and which will terminate the labors of the company. The iron necessary to complete the work is now in New Orleans, and can be bought readily with the State bonds. Everything is ready to continue operations on the last section, and but await the action of the Legislature.
   The completion of the road will render it one of the most valuable in the South. Build at an exceedingly cheap rate, it contrasts strongly with the cost of other roads in the State. This road has been, and can be, worked cheaper than any other road in the South. The employment of negroes to do all severe labor, has proved successful in the highest degree, and that it is cheaper and far superior to similar white labor, the results fully shadow forth in the great success of the road. It is the determination of the present management to persevere for the future in all the economical rules laid down at the commencement of the work. With such results before them, it is hardly possible that any change of management would deviate from that policy. The road will be a paying one, and that it will eventually prove an investment of the highest lucrative character, no one acquainted with  its prospects can for a moment deny. At the Atchafalaya river, it will connect with the Louisiana Central Stem Railroad, which terminates at Alexandria. A road proving as profitable as this one is destined to be, will scarcely stop at that point. The rich North-western portion of the State offers too great an inducement. The upper counties of Texas temptingly invite a rapid channel by which their produce can be conveyed to a market. In this fast age man is not content with plodding wearily along when a cheap and rapid conveyance invites him. The navigation of Red River is fast becoming an annoyance to the hardy settlers upon its banks. The expense attending the slow and uncertain navigation of that river, is a heavy tax upon the property of thousands; and it is by no means certain that navigation can be continued many years longer. Old Red is fast losing caste with her planters and farmers. Ruin is staring her towns in the face. Something must be done to prevent a wide spread desolation which must attend the fast decreasing travel upon that once beautiful stream. A remedy is at hand -- a safe and sure remedy -- a remedy that cannot fail to produce all they desire. With the "iron river" there are no overflows, no shallow water with bars and snags, but all moves on calmly and serene from one year to another. Push on your Central Stem road with all possible despatch, and in a short time the "iron river" will be bearing upon its bosom the rich productions of your soil, which have hitherto found a slow, tedious and expensive way to market.
   One point in the final completion of this work must commend itself to the attention of our legislators. Aside from the profits likely to accrue to the State from her subscriptions, is the great quantity of wild lands which will be brought into cultivation. Along almost the entire route, lie some of the richest and most fertile lands in Louisiana. Their isolation from a market route, or the difficulty experienced in using it, has made those lands comparatively worthless. The pioneer seldom purchased because he saw no outlet by which his produce could be conveyed to a place of sale. What will be the value of those lands when they are traversed by a railroad is not difficult to estimate. How much the State will be gainer by the enhanced value of her public lands lying on or near the route, it is impossible to say.
   With the worthy President of the road, we solicit the State's assistance. It is not asking for more than the Convention authorized. With the bonds the road can be completed.