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Board of Railroad Commissioners
State of Montana
COVERING THE PERIOD BETWEEN
B. T. STANTON, Chairman
E. A. MORLEY
STATE PUBLISHING COMPANY
Helena, Montana, Aug. 31 st, 1908. To His Excellency, Edwin L. Norris, Governor of the State of Montana:
Sir:Under the provisions of the act creating this Commission and defining its duties, Section 33, we respectfully submit for your consideration the first annual report of this Board covering the period from March 1, 1907 to August 31st, 1908, inclusive.
On December 6th, 1907, a preliminary report of this Department's work up to November 30th, 1907, was filed with former Governor Joseph K. Toole, as follows: “To His Excellency, Joseph K. Toole, Governor of the State of Montana:
Dear Sir:-Section 33 of the Railroad Commission Law of the State of Montana (Chapter 37, Laws 1907, page 69) requires the Board of Railroad Commissioners thereby created, to make and submit an annual report to you containing a complete account of the transaction of its office, together with such facts, suggestions and recommendations as may be deemed necessary; and also a statement of the number of accidents investigated by the Board and the number of persons killed or injured in them, and, generally the nature and cause of such accidents. It is the desire of the Commission, in every particular, to fully comply with this law, and to give forth the best possible results thereunder to the people of the State of Montana, but a full report of the character indicated by this law at this time would be of little value, considering the short time the Commission has been in existence. We believe it far better, when the first report of this Commission is published, to have one containing information of value and reflecting credit on the State, and we therefore hand you this communication in lieu of a report, promising you at a later date, but within the year, to hand you a report in detail, complying fully with the requirements of the law.
“The law went into effect on the 26th day of February, 1907, and the members of this Commission thereafter, on the first day of March, 1907, duly and regularly qualified and entered upon the discharge of their duties, and ever since said last mentioned date, the Board, and each of its members, have been busily engaged in familiarizing themselves with the law; its application, the procedure thereunder, and the lines of railroad operated in this state; the roadbeds, track facilities, rolling stock, depots, and the like; and also the classification of rate, charges and schedules for the transportation of freight and passengers.
"As required by law, we have fixed the rates of charges of all railroad companies operated in the State of Montana for the carriage of freight, passengers and express, and have issued tariffs which are now in force and effect and being complied with by all railroad companies affected.
"We have had many formal hearings in the interest of the proper administration of the law; have investigated a number of wrecks and accidents, and have encountered much work and study in laying the proper foundation for the effective administration of the law, systematizing the files and records of the office, and in adopting suitable rules and regulations.
"Any further information, data, or report which your Excellency may desire will be gladly furnished you at any time you may ask for it.
“The Commission has full and complete data and records of all of its work and proceedings to the present date.
B. T. STANTON, Chairman,
Section 7 of the Railroad Commission Law provides that the State shall provide the Board with suitable offices in the State Capitol Building. As there were no vacant offices in the Capitol at the time the members of the Board qualified the Commission met in one of the House Committee rooms on March 1st, 1907, and completed the organization of the Board by electing B. T. Stanton, Chairman and appointing H. K. Howry, secretary and Miss Alma Mohr, stenographer. Upon the adjournment of the Tenth Legislative Assembly the State Furnishing Board directed that the offices used by the Speaker, Chief Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms of the House together with the three committee rooms adjoining should be occupied by the Railroad Commission for the use of its members and employes.
CONFERENCE WITH OTHER COMMISSIONS. With the inauguration of the Commission's work came the organization and buildng up of an entirely new state department. The work of the Board necessarily being largely one of handling multitudinous details in connection with freight, passenger and express rates, it was early appreciated that the experience of established commissions would be of much value with reference to organization.
This Commission having received an invitaton from the Railroad Commission of Washington to visit Olympia and there meet in joint conference with the Oregon and Washington Commissions, proceeded to Olympia, where on April 10, 11, 12 and 13th, 1907, the three Boards held conferences. Railroad Commission work in all its phases was gone into thoroughly and much information of value to this Board, was acquired.
From Olympia the Commissions of Washington, Oregon and Montana proceeded to Portland, where on April 15, 16 and 17th, the members and respective secretaries, attended with much profit the hearings on the famous Spokane rate case, before Judge Prouty of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
CONGESTION OF FREIGHT TRAFFIC.
At the beginning of the work of the Commission, it was confronted by a serious condition in connection with the congestion of traffic on the two transcontinental lines crossing our state.
So serious had this become that the volume of commodities offered to railways for transportation was greatly in excess of the equipment and power to handle, or the trackage to accommodate. This situation resulting from the unprecedented increase in the volume of trade between Northwestern and Eastern markets, without any proportionate addition to transportation facilities to care for the same, resulted not only in great inconvenience but financial loss as well to both consignors and consignees.
HELPING TO AVERT FUEL FAMINE.
Having in view the scarcity of the coal supply at the principal consuming points in the State, during the winters of 1906 and 1907, and realizing that owing to increased congestion of other commodities, the movement of coal would be retarded, the Board issued on June 15th, 1907, a circular letter urging the necessity of dealers and consumers to anticipate a coal famine by earlier shipments and also to arrange with the railroads to give coal shipments preference until such time as the towns and cities along their lines were well stocked with fuel. The records at the various stations show that the citizens very generally co-operated with the Commission in this respect as the receipts of coal at the principal points in the months of July, August and September, were from. 40 per cent to 70 per cent greater than the same months of the previous year.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE RAILWAY COMMISSIONERS.
Chairman Stanton, representing the Montana Commission attended the Nineteenth Annual Convention of the National Association of Railway Commissions held at Washington, D. C., October 8th-11th, 1907. At this meeting the following states were represented by one or more members of their respective Commissions: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin and five members of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The discussion of such problems as rates and rate making, safety appliances, uniform classification, railroad taxation, demurrage, physical valuation of