UNIT V SECTION 4 POWER-DEVELOPING MACHINES REVOLUTIONIZED TRANSPORTATION Machines for navigating are possible without rowers, so that great ships suited to river or ocean, guided by one man, may be borne with greater speed than if they were full of men. Likewise cars may be made — so that without a draught animal they may be moved with inestimable speed . . . and flying machines are possible so that a man may sit in the middle turning some device by which artificial wings may beat the air in the manner of a flying bird. — Roger Bacon. Introduction. Modern transportation, like modern communication, is the product of the rapidly increasing application of scientific knowledge to the problems of everyday life. The history of the development of transportation reveals many cases of opposition of existing transportation agencies to new types of transportation, followed by the inevitable development of these new types of transportation and the consequent wasteful competition which resulted in unfair practices. Competition often ended in consolidation, which permitted greater efficiency but also permitted monopolies to make unfair profits. This brought about the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 to prevent discrimination. Finally, in 1914, Congress passed the Clayton Anti-Trust Act to promote competition. The problems of transportation are typical of the problems introduced by the development of modern technology, and the methods by which a democracy solves these problems make a fascinating study. In general these problems must be solved in such a way as to eliminate waste and increase efficiency, thus raising the general standard of living but at the same time preserving individual initiative and encouraging new and better ways of doing things. The solution of these problems presents a challenge to every human being. Transportation by Water Has Witnessed Great Changes. The value of water transportation was realized many centuries ago. The Roman vessel, with its several banks of oars operated by slaves, 322
TRANSPORTATION HAS BEEN REVOLUTIONIZED 323 represented a mere increase in the size of boats operated by man power. In China today boats are towed up the rivers and through the vast network of canals by human beings. The building of canals in China hundreds of years ago and the more recent construction of the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and other canals greatly facilitated transportation by water. The Phoenicians are often credited with the invention of the sailing vessel, which greatly aided exploration and the development of world commerce. For many centuries improvements in water transportation consisted merely in increasing the size and seaworthiness of sailing craft. Though the sailing vessel is still used to some extent, it is too much subject to the vagaries of the weather and too slow to meet modern man's general needs. In 1707 Denis Papin built the first steamboat and set out to cross the English Channel. At Munden, however, the watermen, fearful that such a contrivance would take away their livelihood, smashed the boat to pieces, and Papin barely escaped with his life. Other men produced steamboats with rather indifferent success during the next hundred years. In 1803 Fulton completed a steamboat in France; but, the very night before it was to be tried out, it broke into two pieces during a gale, for Fulton had not constructed a strong enough hull to house his machinery. In 1805 Fulton took his steam engine to America, a trip that required two months. On August 16, 1807, Fulton's Clermont made its memorable voyage up the Hudson from New York to Albany, a distance of 150 miles, in 32 hours. In 1838 the Sirius, a small ship of 703 tons, was the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean entirely under her own power. She made the trip in 17 days, consuming all of her coal and even burning some of her spars. In 1839 another steamship, the British Queen, made the same trip in In 1829 the following letter was written: 14 days. Dear Sir We are entirely unacquainted with the cost of a steamboat and would not like to embark on a business of which we are quite ignorant. Must, therefore, decline taking any part in the one you propose getting up. We remain. Yours, S. Cunard and Company. By 1840, however, this company had changed its mind, and its large steamship, the Britannia, made the trip from London to Boston in 14 days. In 1862 this same company's steamship, the Scotia, its last paddle-wheel vessel, made the trip in 9 days. In 1867 its ship, the Russia, a screw ship, made the trip in 8 days and 24 minutes.