Monday, May 1, 2017

Baltimore the "greatest flour market" with trains and wagons

Thousands of barrels of flour passed through Baltimore by large Conestoga wagons and railroad cars then onto ships to American and foreign ports.  The following excerpt is from an 1848 children's history book.

"You will be delighted with Baltimore. It is as large as Boston, and has many interesting objects in it....After seeing the rest of the city, you should go to Howard Street, where you will notice a great many wagons, loaded with flour.  

Baltimore is the greatest flour-market in the world. Thousands and thousands of barrels are brought here every year from various parts of Maryland, and from Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  It is then sent in ships to New York, Boston, Charleston, and various foreign countries.

We shall observe many fine wheat-fields in Maryland, and many plantations of tobacco. This plant is cultivated in rows, like Indian corn, and it has broad leaves, like a mullein. We shall notice that almost all the labor in the fields is performed by the negro slaves.
But the most curious thing at Baltimore is the rail-road. I must tell you that there is a great trade between Baltimore and the states west of the Alleghany Mountains. The western people buy a great many goods at Baltimore, and send in return a great deal of western produce. There is, therefore, a vast deal of travelling back and forth, and hundreds of cars are constantly occupied in transporting goods and produce to and from market.

Now, in order to carry on all this business more easily, the people have had built what is called a rail-road. This consists of iron bars laid along the ground, and made fast, so that carriages with small wheels may run along upon them with facility. In this way one horse will be able to draw as much as ten horses on a common road. A part of this rail-road is already done, and if you choose to take a ride upon it, you can do so. You will mount a car something like a stage, and then you will be drawn by the locomotive, at the rate of twenty miles an hour."

Goodrich, Samuel Griswold.  The first book of history, for children and youth  Boston: 1848

©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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