|Lincoln/Net||Prairie Fire||Illinois During the Civil War||Illinois During the Gilded Age||Mark Twain's Mississippi||Back to Digitization Projects||Contact Us|
Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
St. Louis is supplied with water from the Mississippi river. A steam engine of considerable poiser draws it from the river and forces it to the reservoir. The water is taken out in the upper part of the city, above the entrance of any of the sewers, at a place where the river is deepest and the current swiftest, and therefore the water taken out is the purest that can be obtained. The Missouri river imparts its peculiar muddy caste to the Mississippi at and below their junction, and although the appearance of the water is not clear, and to a stranger is rather disagreeable, yet it is nevertheless about the best river water in the world. It is said to keep longer, and be sweeter on a sea voyage, than the water of perhaps any other stream; indeed it may almost be said never to spoil. The appearance of the water when first taken from the river, or when the supply from the reservoir has not had time to settle, is rather muddy and thick, from the great admixture of light sandy particles, and strangers generally dislike to use it; but it soon settles on becoming stationary, and then is very palatable, and persons soon become very fond of it preferring it to any other water. It does not, however, agree with all who use it; until they become habituated. Some of those, especially Europeans, who, after a long confinement on ship-board, and a scant supply of water,
find themselves in the midst of such a river, and particularly if the weather is hot, with power to drink just as much as they please, are very apt to be rather seriously affected by its use. But soon these difficulties are overcome; the system becomes habituated to its use, the muddy appearance is rapidly forgotten, and the sweet, pleasant taste renders almost any well or spring water insipid in the comparison, and we long for the supply furnished by the "Father of Waters." Even the stranger loves its use; how much more, then, those who for years have used no other! Supplied from such a source, there can be no apprehension of a failure, although it is not to be disguised that the people are often put on short allowances.
The Water-works belong to the city; all the expense of procuring and distributing is incurred by it, while all the revenue arising from the sale, or rather the permission to the citizens to use the water, is paid into the city treasury, the city having an absolute monopoly in this matter. But although great efforts have been made and are now making an ample supply of this necessary element can not apparently be had. This arises from many causes chiefly the rapid increase of population the extension of manufacturing establishments, and the too frequent delay in making extensions and improvements, until forced by the necessities of the case, and even then only to the extent of present supplies. There appears a want of forecast, an indisposition to take hold of and surmount difficulties so as to make ample provision for being ahead of the demands for the future; a kind of temporizing policy which would not characterize an effort by individuals associated together for supplying the city amply with water. But there are difficulties in the way, I am well aware, and I am not disposed to find too much fault with our "City Fathers" in all things pertaining to these supplies, for it does seem almost impossible to keep up with
this demand. With a view to the exemplification of our progress as a city, regarding the demand for water as a species of "barometer" by which to measure, I will present some points, contrasting the past with the present and future, and for the data on which to base these views I am indebted to Mr. Pritchard, Superintendent of Water-works.
The first reservoir was built in 1830 or 1831, on one of the mounds on the east side of what is now called Broadway near the residence of the late General W. H. Ashley. This was capable of containing about 230,310 gallons of water, and was amply sufficient for the wants of the city at that period. But as population increased, and, by consequence, the demand for water, it became necessary to make an enlargement, which was done in 1838, and the quantity was increased to about 290,000 gallons. So that the increase in those seven or eight years was only some 60,000 gallons; but during this period there was not a very great increase of population. If I recollect right, we only increased in ten years, from 1830 to 1840, about 10,000, leaving our population at the latter period about 16,000. Soon after that period (1840) population began to flock in, and manufacturing establishments commenced so that the supply was again, inadequate and the wooden reservoir was built on the top of the old one in 1844, capacitated to contain 409,440 gallons. It soon became manifest that this work was not adequate to the supply of the place, nor yet sufficiently elevated to supply the higher parts of the city; nor was, there a possibility of finding in its vicinage a place sufficiently elevated on which to erect a reservoir, ample in dimensions and capable of supplying the high situations. A situation was finally obtained about one mile west of the river, near the northern part of the city, and here, in 1848, the new reservoir was erected, capacitated to contain 7,968,750 gallons.
This it was supposed would be sufficient for many years to come; it is well built of stone, very strong and permanent, and answers an excellent purpose; the only difficulty is, it is not large enough! By this array we see the rapidity of our growth: the supply, deemed sufficient in 1844, is increased near twenty fold in 1848, and in 1854 so utterly insufficient is the supply that the City Council orders another reservoir to be built, which is estimated to be capable of containing 32,248,125 gallons more than four times the capacity of the present, still called the new reservoir built only six years ago. But how long will this one now building supply the demand? probably not five years ! And then others will be required of much greater capacity; for we must bear in mind, that the limits must be extended at the next session of the Legislature, and the thousands of people now without, and who do not receive supplies from these Water-works, will be incorporated in the city, and must be supplied; besides, there are large portions of the present city destitute. Provision should therefore be made in time, and as soon as the City Engineer can place those now constructing in use, provision should at once be made for building up the other fourth of Reservoir square, so as to anticipate the demand. But this, in my opinion, is not the only thing necessary to be done in the premises: enlarged ability in the pumping apparatus is also necessary in order to furnish a full supply. Not very long ago there was put up a beautiful new engine, of some one hundred and fifty horse power, and there had previously been in use, and still on hand at the works, two old engines. These last being nearly worn out, and indeed not very reliable, are only used in an emergency. The new one is the main support. This is capable, we are told, of pumping from the river, and forcing to the reservoir through a twenty inch pipe, about 3,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, or
say 21,000,000 gallons per week while the present demand of the city for all purposes, is about 5,000,000 gallons for every twenty-four hours, during six days in the week; thus the engine has to work day and night, interminably, to keep up a daily supply. The main pipe from the engine to the reservoir, partly laid for other purposes, is rather circuitous, makes a number of rather acute angles, and while it therefore makes the distance greater, say at least one-fourth of a mile, than if it were straight, increases also the resistance, and precludes the working of the full power of the engine lest some accident should happen at the angles. Now, let me ask, what would we do for water if from any cause this engine should become disabled? As it is, we live, as it were, "from hand to mouth."
Seven days working by the engine supplies six days' use; what the engine pumps up on Sunday has some chancet o settle, and what is pumped at night furnishes a good head for use during the day; but mostly the water has no chance to settle; as it is taken from the river, it is sent coursing through the city, to be used for all the purposes of life.
Indeed, in the more elevated portions of the city, it is now nearly impossible to get a supply of water, and such as is obtained seems to come directly from the river. Now, we ask again, if such is the case, with the most powerful engine the city has ever had if no time is given for the water to settle, and the supply is inadequate what would we do if it was to be disabled? If a "prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself" how should prudent City Fathers act in view of such a contingency? We suppose they would at once cause another and at least as powerful an engine to be built and put up, and lay an independent pipe of large calibre on as straight a line as possible to the reservoir, and thus, while guarding
against any contingency, furnish a full supply of water to all parts of the city to the elevated as well as the depressed. And it seems to us this is only a question of time, anyhow. The City Council does not, surely, expect that the present pumping power can possibly supply the enlarged reservoir. If, then, another must be had, why not procure that other at once, and avoid the hazard we are now running?
Let the old engines be sold; they are entirely too small for any useful purpose to us, if even at some expense put into repair, and let us look the difficulty and expense right in the face, and at once meet and overcome it. We must have ample supplies of water, and the people should not be expected either to use it as it comes from the river without settling; nor yet should the city require people to pay for what they do not get. Many houses now, in the more elevated situations, have not one-fourth of a supply, while there are large populous neighborhoods, both in the north and south, and even in the very centre and oldest part of the city, entirely destitute. Our manufactories must also have ample and continuous supplies, while it is very desirable to cleanse, as far as possible, the street gutters, as has been partially done this summer by letting loose occasionally the fire-plugs; and also, while all these things demand water, it requires no small quantity to sprinkle the streets and supply the public bath-houses at this season of the year. We are well aware, that to keep up with the growing wants of such a city as this, spreading as it does with such rapidity over so great a space, requires great diligence, a large outlay of money, and considerable time. And we are free to admit, that progress has been and is the motto, and this progress is exemplified by a few facts. In May, 1850, the Superintendent of Water-works reported that there was then laid down in the city, and in use, nearly seventeen miles of water-pipe,
and also ninety-four fire-plugs; now, eight years after, there is laid down and in use something over seventy-five miles, showing an increase in eighty years of about sixty miles, or nearly eight miles per annum, of additional pipe laid for the supply of the city. And it must be borne in mind that within these last eight years much the greater part has been of large pipe, say fifteen to twenty inches, of which none, or very little, had been previously put down. And it must not be forgotten that much time and very extensive works are necessary for casting this large amount of pipe, all of which is now done in our city.
In this connection, as illustrative of our progress, we wish to add a few thoughts on the subject of pipe.
Formerly, all the water-pipe used in this city was brought either from the Cumberland or Ohio rivers. We believe the first pipe used was brought from the Cumberland, under a contract made with Mr. John Stacker, and these foreign supplies were continued, unmolested by any home competition, until some time in 1846 or 1847, when proposals by Messrs. Garrison & Bro., for supplying six and ten inch pipe, were accepted by the city. This broke the charm, and these enterprising home manufacturers commenced to render us, in this necessary article, independent of foreign foundries. True, they could not supply the demand, limited as it then was, but they made a beginning; they proved that if "some things could be done as well as others," these things could be as well done at this place as at others. And this start made, was followed up by others, and in the manufacture of large pipe as well as small. In 1849 Messrs. Palm & Robinson, under contract with the city, commenced the manufacture of twenty inch water-pipe for the supply of the new Water-works, and we recollect to have seen the fact stated at the time that their
proposals were to make the pipe here at a lower price than the same was offered to be done for from cities on the Ohio. Two things were thus shown that pipe, large or small, could be made here, and made as low or even lower than at older cities, at more extensive works. These demonstrated, so far at least as these things were concerned, we were approaching independence. About this time, or perhaps in 1850 or 1851, Messrs. James Graham & Co. entered into the manufacture of water-pipe, and in consequence of Messrs. Palm & Robinson engaging largely in making locomotives, engines and machinists' tools, they do nothing now at water-pipe, and hence the whole supply devolves at present on Messrs. Graham & Co., who, although steadily at work, can not supply the demand; another establishment as large, perhaps two such, are necessary to supply the demand for water-pipe, besides the almost equal demand for the supply of the Gas-works.
We do not know what our Water-works have cost; we do not recollect ever to have seen the amount stated, nor do we suppose the policy to be to make money for the city by the rent of the water; for, although there might be a loss even by the operation, still there should be provided a supply of water, and the rate of charge should be equitable but not oppressive; and besides, the city as an aggregate should bear some portion of the expense, inasmuch as the public offices and the public charities are supplied gratis, and the public health and comfort, as well as safety, require the use of large quantities of water. So that we should not engage in this matter of water supplies only as a "revenue measure," or as an operation merely of "dollars and cents." But we apprehend the revenue from this source will justify even an extension.
The following article from the pen of our esteemed fellow citizen, Mr. JOHN HOGAN, was written by him about four years ago. Although many improvements have been made in the city since that time, it contains much valuable information, which induces us to give it a place in these pages:
"A few years ago almost all kinds of goods and manufactured wares were brought here from other cities, chiefly from those on the Ohio. The idea seemed prevalent that this was not, and never could be, a manufacturing place.
"It was recognized as a good place to sell goods, but not the place to make them on a large scale. Experience, however, has demonstrated, that the latter part of such sentiment was as fallacious as the first part was true. And why, let me ask, should St. Louis be regarded as not a proper place a profitable place for manufacturing? Every prerequisite is here, or, at least, easily attained here.
"Let us note some of those things which are most desirable, indeed necessary, to be at hand, or easily attainable, so as to make manufacturing most productive:
the price of the article is enhanced. If, then, there is a large concentration of operatives, who from their avocations are necessarily consumers and not producers of food, unless they are employed nearest to the greatest and most abundant supply, they will find enhanced prices, and, by consequence, the pro rata of wages over the amount expended for food is proportionally decreased. But is there any place in the United States where there is a greater concentration of all kinds of food, at fair, we may say, first hand prices, than at St. Louis? I doubt whether, as an original concentrating and supply-produce point, St. Louis has its equal anywhere.
"And such it must be always, while these vast Western States continue productive while these mighty rivers flow and bear upon their bosoms the great vessels that annually transport to this mart for sale the thousands of tons of all kinds of produce that men and animals consume. Food, food, food for millions, for hundreds of millions, may be produced in this great productive West, and St. Louis will always be its vast depot. Where it concentrates, therefore, is the place for men to congregate for manufacturing purposes, other things being equal.
"If then food absorbs more than a moiety of the wages of operatives everywhere, it follows as a consequence that where food is most abundant and cheapest the mechanic receiving the same wages can save the largest sum from his daily labor; and if St. Louis is that place, then he is here most prosperous.
"Another reason why this is a proper manufacturing point is its contiguity to the raw material which enters most largely into, and consequently constitutes next to the price of labor the largest item in the production of the finished commodity.
"Where can a greater amount or more abundant supply of raw material be so easily concentrated as at St. Louis? Take
this remark in its most minute, or most extended sense, and it is still true.
"There is no spot in the world more productive of mineral than Missouri, especially in iron, copper, lead and coal; and, as these metals, and the combinations of them, enter into the most kinds of manufactures especially into the machinery used as hemp and tobacco are among the most important staples of Missouri, finding at St. Louis their place of sale and shipment, and are by consequence in their cheapest form and ready for manufacture as cotton, another great staple of manufacture, is abundantly grown close to our southern border, and can consequently be brought here at less cost than to any other point where its manufacture can be advantageously carried on as the important article of sugar is similarly situated in reference to the ease and cheapness with which the raw material can be placed, besides cheap and abundant food for the laborers to be employed in its manufacture, it follows, in my opinion, that St. Louis is the place for manufacturing. If to all these we add the abundance and reasonably low price of fuel, which can be supplied in much greater abundance and at even less cost, by the various railroads which penetrate the vast coal fields of Missouri and Illinois, and have their termini at our city, I think we may say few places in the Union equal St. Louis as a place for the establishment of manufactories. But, once more, it is all important for a manufacturing place, that it possess an ample outlet for its commodities. St. Louis is surely this point, as the entrepot of a vast interior agricultural trade, as the point from which supplies of merchandise are received in return for that produce; where else can the great country north, and west, and south, I may also say of a large portion east, look more legitimately for supplies of various manufactures than to the port at which their entire business is done? And here they do
look, and if we do not manufacture ourselves, we must procure those articles from other points to supply the demands of our great and increasing trade.
"But why not engage in this branch of business? Is it because of the apprehensions it will not be productive? Doubtless those from whom we buy find it profitable, or else they would not continue the business.
"Large profits have accrued to cities on the Ohio and elsewhere from our trade; some of them we have built up and sustained. Ours is their most prosperous trade; in some instances we furnish them the raw material at its cheapest rate, the food which supports their operatives at its lowest rates, and then we receive the commodity back again, in its most costly form, with all the profits added, with double freights added, exchanges, interest and insurance added, all of which we should save and add to our own productive capital. But perhaps we do not thus engage from an apprehended inability to procure the labor necessary. But this cannot be so, for if we can furnish cheaper food and thereby save to the operative a large part of his expenses, he will save more here on the same wages than where he has to pay higher for thenecessaries of support.
"Hence, if suitable inducements are held out, workmen may readily be obtained; besides, there are hundreds of those daily arriving in our city, who are artizans in all the branches of manufacture in the countries whence they have emigrated. Perhaps the reason is the want of capital, and the more abundant and immediately productive uses in which it can be employed.
"Well, I admit that there is much force in that; there is so great a demand for capital in a young and rapidly improving city like ours so many uses to which it can be put so few facilities for those who, although they possess the skill and energy to get up such establishments so few facilities for obtaining means
to carry them through to the remunerating period that many instinctively shrink from the undertaking. If we had the banking capital and consequent facilities possessed by cities not containing one-fourth of our population or doing one-tenth of our business, matters would be materially changed. Or if we had the advantages of even a suitably constructed ‘limited partnership law,’ the results would be entirely different.
"Indeed, we should not only have a suitable ‘limited partnership law,’ so as to enable the man of capital and credit to invest a certain part of his means to aid the competent and honest man, devoid of capital, in the establisment of a business, without risking the whole of his fortune in the enterprise; but we need, also, a repeal of our present interest law, so that capital may seek investment here without danger, and thus remove the industrious needy from the grasp of the heartless usurer, who will suck his life-blood away because he posesses no fears of the usury laws. We also need a free banking law  similar to other States, and these things being had, St. Louis, with her other great advantages, will become the greatest of manufacturing cities. It is a matter, however, of rejoicing to all lovers of her prosperity, that manufactures have been commenced, and are being successfully prosecuted, in St. Louis, notwithstanding the difficulties to which such enterprises are always more or less subjected. These establishments are becoming every day more numerous and extensive. They have prospered also beyond the expectations of their most sanguine friends, and are found most successful competitors with similar works in longer established portions of the country.
"There are few branches of industry, few kinds of manufactures, but what are now being carried forward successfully in St. Louis.
"Here are some twenty extensive flouring mills perhaps a larger number of saw mills; there are four or more planing mills some of them equal in extent and character to any in the United States. We have here some twenty-five foundries, engine and boiler manufactories, and numerous machine shops. We have probably the largest and best-managed sugar refinery in the United States; cotton factories whose thread has almost superseded all other yarns in this market, and doubtless would quite do so if they could supply the demand. Here we have two of the most extensive rolling mills, and arrangements making for another; three extensive stove casting works almost precluding the importation of stoves from the Ohio, whence we were exclusively supplied a few years ago; three or more foundries engaged on railroad work; one extensive locomotive building works; two or more shops constantly engaged on railroad car work; several very extensive saddle and harness works, one of which supplies the United States army; one or more bridle bit and stirrup iron manufactory, where are turned out as fine work as can be made in any establishment in the world, whether of ‘polished or plated ware.’
"There are several extensive saddle-tree manufactories, two very large white lead and oil manufacturing establishments, one or more sheet, lead, bar lead and lead pipe works, two extensive chemical works, one or two woolen factories, besides numerous other works which I have not even space or time to mention; several rope works, two bagging factories, numerous tobacco manufacturers, now exporting largely of manufactured tobacco; one large shot and bar lead works, supplying both
the South and West with these articles. And besides, we, who who a few years ago imported large quantities of soaps, common and fancy, tallow and star candles and lard oil, are now extensive exporters of all these commodities, produced by some six large factories and several smaller ones. Thus we have progressed in about twelve or fifteen years in the important matter of manufacturing. Large quantities of furniture, tin and sheet iron ware, carriages and wagons, and agricultural implements, heretofore imported, are now produced in this city; while bell and brass founding are progressing finely; and, above all, we enjoy the advantage of making our own printing type, which furnishes to all the West an article of metallic type, manufactured here by improved machinery, quite as beautiful, more durable, and at the same prices as similar kinds are furnished in New York.
"We have no paper mills and it is astonishing what quantities of this one article are sold and consumed here annually. One single establishment here, we are told, uses the entire product of two mills on tho Ohio, supplied by contracts which have existed some ten years, and costs about $100,000 per annum and this is for one office alone. Now, it would be almost worth while for some one possessing the leisure, to ascertain, if possible, the value of paper used and sold here annually, by all who deal in this article.
"We have no manufactory of railroad iron here, notwithstanding the immense amount of material so accessible, and soon to be reached by our railroad, and that too of the very best quality vastly superior, both in safety and durability, to the high-priced inferior Welsh article, purchased from English manufacturers; and notwithstanding, also, the great demand, which the original laying of track, and subsequent perpetual
demand which the numerous roads concentrating here must produce for the article, not to speak of the facility we have, if once engaged in the business, for supplying the demands of the whole valley of the Mississippi. And why can not we engage in this business, so immensely profitable? Want of capital! This is again the plea, and, doubtless, in this instance, at least, there is ‘more truth than poetry’ in the pleading. England has grown immensely wealthy by her iron works. She can sell iron on a credit that is, what she regards as credit although to us, who purchase her railroad bars, it is a pretty hard, cash kind of an operation. What is the process? Missouri, that has iron enough to supply the world, issues her bonds for the purpose of building a railroad; these bonds having twenty years to run, bearing six per cent, interest, are taken to England, and if money is worth three per cent., then, with her bonds some ten or fifteen per cent, below their par value, she can buy iron, at its highest value, to build her railroads with. Principal and interest of these bonds, together with exchange, must be paid abroad, besides freight on the iron here, where it is most abundant.
"But what else can be done? We are not prepared to take these bonds; labor is high, greatly higher here than where they make these bars in Wales; besides, immense capital is necessary to start and keep up such works. All this is true and much more, and yet it is our interest the interest of our city, of our State, of this great Western Valley to get up and sustain this very necessary work upon our own soil to retain in our own country the wealth thereby to be accumulated. And we have the men of capital, of business qualities, who could and doubtless would successfully accomplish this matter, with the aid of our railroad companies, and if sustained and encouraged by the State. In the last Legislature some suggestions were
made on this subject, which might have eventuated in great practical good if they had been carried into operation. As an individual member of this great community, I hope that the members to be elected next August to the Legislature will attend to something else besides mere party politics.
"I trust they will look more to the interest and prosperity of the State, and to the developments of its great and important policy, than to mere party aggrandizement.
"I do not decry politics I only wish it may not absorb every thing. Now, if our next Legislature and our railroad companies could harmoniously adopt a plan, the tendency of which would be to build up manufactories of railroad iron in our city and State, who can estimate the benefits which would result therefrom?
"Suppose, as has been before suggested by those more able than the present writer, the companies would all agree to take their rails at a price which would justify the undertaking, and do this for a series of years say the price were even higher than they could probably be obtained for elsewhere and then suppose the Legislature, in addition, were to pay a bonus for every ton of railroad iron manufactured in the State for a series of years, and were, besides, to exempt the property and machinery employed in the manufacture from all taxation for a limited period; with this assurance the object might be, I think, easily accomplished.
"But again, our bonds are used in many States as a basis for banking purposes. We know they are safe; so do those who use them. We pay interest to the holders of these bonds semi-annually, and then we pay interest besides, and very gladly, on the notes issued thereon, for the use of the money, (if we can get it,) based upon our bonds deposited in other States. Now, suppose we had a free banking law, well restricted and guarded,
based upon our own bonds and those of other States as good as ours; then those who made railroad iron here could take bonds for it of States, because they would be receivable for banking purposes in the State, and, therefore, easily sold bonds which would go into English pockets for iron, which paid great profits to English manufacturers, and we would get the profits instead of them while the bonds, being sufficient security for the issue of money, would be retained in our own State and furnish us sufficient facilities for carrying on our operations. Thus there would be much good accomplished, and a new era would dawn on Missouri.
"A combination then of capitalists, with eminently practical business men, conversant with all the details of manufactures, would soon put into operation, in our midst, such establishments as would develop our resources, open up our mines, employ our labor, consume our products, increase our wealth, our population, our commerce, and make our city as famous for her manufacturing establishments as for her steamboats and large business houses, and tend most inevitably to render us independent of foreign manufacturers.
"The tendency also of any one is to aid other establishments indeed they are like links in a chain one naturally succeeds another.
"Our present establishments most of them commencing very small, but guided by skill, by intelligence and industry, crowned with that strict probity which inspires confidence have reached, at least some of them, such a height as to have undisputed possession of large fields of demand; while all are doing very well, giving assurance unto all men that St. Louis is a suitable field in which to operate.
"Now, if all these have grown up, with the very limited facilities they have had, what might we not expect to be the result if
our facilities were increased, as they would be, by either or all of the general plans before suggested, viz: A free banking law a limited partnership law or even a repeal of the present interest law, which keeps capital out of the city, and is, in fact, but an incentive to the operations of the usurer."
"I will conclude by an exhibit which we find in one of the documents published by Congress a report from one of the departments and which goes to show in part our exports of provisions. The statement referred to is as follows:
"Statement of Domestic Produce and Manufactures shipped from the port of St. Louis, destined to New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburgh, Memphis, Nashville, Mills' Point, Helena, and other places on the interior waters of the United States, in the year ending June 30th, 1851, viz:
Molasses 40,510 bbls.
"This statement, it will be perceived, is for the year 1851; in the three years that have elapsed since then, closing on the 30th day of this month, the increase in the export of these articles, I may say in all of them, has been very great, but at present I will only refer to one item, viz: ‘Refined Sugar.’
In this article the increase has been immense; for the year ending the 30th of June, 1854, I doubt not, it will amount fully to 100,000 barrels ! Immense as this increase from 21,892 in 1850-51, to 100,000 in 1853-54 may appear, it will be justified from the amount shown to me for the last six months, which is 60,400 barrels the entire sales of that establishment in sugar, molasses and syrups have been over $800,000 in the last three months. Besides, in the list furnished above, there is no account of lead pipe, sheet lead, or shot, all of which being large items in our city's present manufactures, but not in existence or only partially prosecuted at the time that report was made, I would like to present some items showing their extent.
Although not engaged myself in any manufacturing establishment, or in any way connected therewith, yet I have long felt a great interest in their extension and prosperity; and I am induced from many circumstances to believe, neither our own citizens, nor people abroad, have any adequate idea of the extent, the magnitude, or variety of such establishments operating in our city, nor yet of the extent of country to which
they send their articles. I had not designed in these numbers to enter into minute details, nor yet to particularize establishments; but still, as a means of arriving at some just estimate of results, it is necessary to instance some particulars.
We turn then to our iron manufactures, and what do we find to give us some idea of the extent of this branch of business? Perhaps the quantity of iron melted per day in St. Louis foundries and machine shops would give us some idea of their business. Well, I have made some investigations on this point, and find that there is melted daily in St. Louis over one hundred tons of metal! There are six working days per week, or say fifty working weeks in the year; this will give us thirty thousand tons of iron melted at our foundries per annum, and this almost in the infancy of the business.
There are now in operation two or more establishments, either of which melt up daily more iron than was melted in the same time by all the establishments in St. Louis combined, seven years ago. This itself presents wonderful progress. Take another fact. I learned to-day at one of our machine shops, that in the last six months they had filled orders for work from Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, California, Washington Territory, besides Missouri. This, of itself, shows the extent of demand, and what is said by this one may be said by most, perhaps all, of our establishments. Now, let me ask, if in the few years in which these establishments have been in operation, all of them, perhaps, commencing very small, with but little capital, scarcely any banking facilities, against the heavy competition of long established rich works on the Ohio, they have grown to this extent and importance, what may we not expect, even in the next ten years? especially, as all classes of politicians
now in Missouri, it is generally understood, will favor some plan for increasing mechanical facilities.
Take another illustration; some sixteen months ago one establishment commenced the making of lead pipe and sheet lead here. They, like all similar untried experiments, had to feel their way along. The machinery was costly workmen, at first, difficult to be obtained the field of sale preoccupied by those longer engaged, more experienced, possessed of ample capital.
But these young men possessed the energy, the probity, felt the field was vast, and were content with small profits on large sales. They pushed the battle to the gate, and now what is the result? They supply with these articles the entire Valley of the Mississippi. South, they include the trade of New Orleans; east, all the region to Pittsburg; north, the whole region of the upper lakes. Within the last twelve months they have manufactured of lead pipe alone over 2,000,000 of pounds. This has been shipped in immense casks and on large reels, to supply the demands of the great west and south; while of sheet lead they have made 1,250,000 pounds in the same period, besides bar lead.
Now, these articles were not included in our exports of 1851, before presented, for the works were not in existence then, and these figures are now given to show that St. Louis is a suitable place for manufactures, and also what may be done by industry and intelligence.
In the said Government returns, no mention is made of shot, although that article was then manufactured here but, like everything else, has grown considerably in that period.
There is but one "shot tower" here, but it is fully qualified to supply the vast extent of country dependent on us, or which
our skill or ability may bring within the reach of our operations. The region supplied from here with shot embraces nearly all the valley of the Mississippi.
I deem the operations of this concern to be important, and was anxious to furnish in this place some indication of its extent, which I am enabled to do by the kind courtesy of Captain Simonds, one of the enterprising proprietors.
I take an aggregate statement furnished me by him of its business during the five months, commencing January 1st, and ending June 1st, 1854, as made up from their books, viz:
During that period of five months the works were run but 104 days; thus the amount of pig lead consumed each day averages 23,240 pounds.
These figures show the extensive scale on which such manufactures as our people engage in are prosecuted; and as they have all heretofore succeeded, may we not presume that other branches and other works of same branches would be equally successful?
There is one branch of business now prosecuted here, of the magnitude of which I had no idea. It seems small in its individuality, but, although most know it exists, few I apprehend have a conception of its extent I mean the manufacture of soda water.
Nor do I now refer to that excellent and pleasant beverage, as it is drawn sparkling from the multitudinous fountains erected for its sale at the drug stores and other shops in every part of the city although the supply of these fountains is itself
a large business I mean only to notice the article termed ‘bottled soda.’ Few of our citizens, I apprehend, have any adequate idea of the extent to which this business is carried on here.
The machinery employed in its production is beautiful and expensive, but perfect in its adaptation, and the manufacture in all its parts is prosecuted with a precision and regularity equal to any of the establishments of the country. That your readers may have some idea of the extent of this business, I will present some data, gathered from one of these factories, of which there are four in active operation here although the one I refer to is doubtless the most extensive, and at present most complete.
The capital invested in this concern is $25,000. The hands employed and now in it, seventy-five. They have in operation a steam engine of their own, by which most of the business is done; and as they cannot supply the demand, they are now enlarging their machinery so as to increase their product.
This concern uses in material, say sugar, syrups, corks, twine, &c., $1,200 per week, and pay in wages per week $900. They manufacture and sell on an average over 1,600 dozen, or say 19,200 bottles of soda water per day.
They use in their increasing trade, and lose by breakage, &c., about 1000 gross of bottles per annum, costing $5 per gross of twelve dozen, beside the amount on hand at the commencement of the year.
When ready, jt is put up in boxes with the manufacturer's name painted on each, and shipped on our daily packets, and in wagons, to all the principal towns and cities on our upper rivers and the surrounding country, and the boxes and empty bottles returned again by the same conveyances, with the precision and certainty that attends commercial operations.
But this is the account of only one of the four establishments operating in this business here. How much the others do I know not, but if they only duplicate the above, the result is great, and this business has commenced within the last five or six years.
In this connection, I may mention that, besides the establishments before mentioned, there are in successful operation here, four Iron Safe manufactories; two Iron Door and Shutter works; three Iron Railing Works; two Iron Suction and Force Pump Works; one extensive and several small Brush factories; two Willow Ware factories; one extensive Starch factory, employing a capital of some $30,000, and rapidly superseding the article heretofore largely imported from Ohio and the eastern cities. I am assured that no better starch is made, both the common and pearl, than that now furnished by a St. Louis manufacturer. And while he produces so good an article, his sales fully justify him in prosecuting the business energetically and constantly, enlarging the capacity for production so as to meet the increasing demand. His sales for the last year largely exceed $30,000, and now fairly under way, this will increase until the entire trade in this article will be supplied from our own factories. From all the facts adduced, it is manifest we are very rapidly becoming a manufacturing city; nor have I enumerated all the separate branches of productive industry successfully prosecuted here; for we have a manufactory of saws, where are made the very best qualities of hand, crosscut, mill and circular saws also one for making augers, chisels, brace bitts, and various articles of cutlery; two or more bench plane and wood screw factories; two bellows factories, equal to any imported. Three establishments where are extensively made platform and counter scales; two establishments for fancy iron working, and recently one of our enterprising
citizens, who was a pioneer in one of our most important branches of manufacture, has engaged in another, which will soon be operating on the west side of the Mississippi the cotton loom. Soon we shall have in our market sheetings, shirtings and osnaburgs of St. Louis manufacture, and who can tell how long it may be until muslins, lawns, calicoes, &c., may be added to our list of home produced articles? To all these, I may add the manufacture of locks, both those for banks and iron safes, as also the common door locks, now making here on a pretty extensive scale. Indeed, until one turns attention to the subject, and by inquiry and extensive observation in every part of the city, he can have no adequate idea of the various works in operation here. Very many of them are small are indeed, as it were, beginnings but they are in their measure and in their results important. All our works were small, but by industry and care have grown, some to great magnitude, and already exert a good influence on our onward march to greatness."
Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=taylorcrooks.html