Eight railroads controlled, in 1907, 78,04 percent of the entire production of anthracite in the United States, says New York Tribune. The proporation today is, if anything, greater than that. This figure, however, does not present the complete story of the grip which these eight railroads, with their tonnage and price "understandings," exercise over the an anthracite industry. The reason why the independent coal operators, even though they mine only 21.96 per cent of the anthracite supply, do not inject a semblance of competition into the trade may be found in the existence of what are known as the "sixty-five per cent contracts." Through these contracts the alleged "independent" operators dispose of more than a third of their total output to the coal departments or subsidiary companies of the eight railroads. The "independents" who are parties to them have agreed that the contracts should run for the life of the mines. The control of the eight railroads over these sixty-five per cent contract operators is, therefore, only less complete than their control of their own subsidiary coal mining companies. And as these contract operators produce a third of the coal mined by the independents, or, roughly, seven per cent of the total production of anthracite, they swell the percentage of production over which the eight railroads exercise sovereignty to eighty-five.

The Boston Chamber of Commerce has been asked to help the interstate commerce commission in its coming investigation of the New York, New Haven & Hartford, the Boston & Maine, and the Maine Central railroads. The order to investigate follows the resolution recently adopted by the chamber, in which it asked the Legislature that Governor Foss' merger bill be postponed until the railroad situation in Massachusetts and New England should be studied by an impartial board. "Complaint having been made to this commission," says the order received from the interstate commission, "that the carriers hereinafter named and each of them have filed with this commission certain rates, classifications and regulations, the enforcement of which has been unjust, unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory, unduly preferential and prejudicial, and otherwise in violation of the act to regulate commerce, and that the practices of said carriers and each of them in the conduct of business subject to said act are unjust, unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory, unduly preferential and prejudicial, and otherwise in violation of the provisions of said act: "It is ordered that an inquiry be and the same hereby is instituted by this commission on its own motion into the rates, classifications, regulations, and practices of the carriers named."

June 8, 1912

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