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Matches.—Wax matches are manufactured extensively, there being no importation of this article nor of any other class of matches.
Buttons.—Two mills exist in the city of Buenos Aires where buttons are manufactured.
Feathers. The preparation of feathers for women's hats is done on a scale sufficient to satisfy home consumption.
Combs.-Combs are manufactured on a small scale.
It would be impossible, for want of data and space, to give a detailed description of all the industries of the country, but the brief review that has been made will at least serve to show that the country has entered resolutely into the manufacturing period and that capital and machinery to be used in the industrial development are what is now needed to increase and better such production with profit to investors.*
* For description of mineral resources, etc., see Chapter III, p. 18, Chapter IV. p. 34, and Appendix E, Mines and Mining Laws.
RAILWAYS-STEAMSHIP COMMUNICATION-POSTAL AND TELE
The first railroad line in Argentina was laid in 1857. To-day, railroads cross all its important agricultural and grazing regions, and the capital cities of all the Provinces are linked together by means of railroads, radiating from the city of Buenos Aires, which occupies in relation to the rest of the country the same relatively advantageous situation as New York City in the United States.
As has already been stated, 80 per cent of the total importations come through the custom-house of Buenos Aires, while 73 per cent of the total exportations pass through the same port. It is then clear that the city of Buenos Aires should be, as it is, the railroad center of the country. In 1887, there were 4,000 miles of railroad lines in operation, while in 1891, the number had almost doubled, reaching 7,365 miles. In relation to the population of the country, these figures show that there are 2.1 miles of railroad lines for every 1,000 inhabitants, a proportion which has been exceeded only in the United States, where there are in operation a little more than 3 miles for every 1,000 inhabitants. Of all the European countries, Switzerland excepted, none has more than three-fifths of a mile of railroad for every 1,000 inhabitants, while the proportion in most of them does not equal three-tenths of a mile for the number of inhabitants.
Besides the 7,365 miles in operation, 9,860 miles of new railroads, it is thought, will be built in the course of a few years, the Congress having authorized their construction. Of the 9,860 miles, the Federal Government has guaranteed 4,504 miles. Thus, adding the lines in the course of construction to those already in operation, the proportion of 5 miles for every 1,000 inhabitants is reached, exceeding the United States by 60 per cent.
Some of the lines are owned by the National Government, and others by different provincial governments, but the great majority belong to private corporations. In most cases, on the capital invested in the construction of private lines, a guaranty of 6 per cent is given by the Federal Government, with the obligation to refund the amount received when the line shall be self-supporting. Most of the lines are now paying back the funds advanced them, thus reducing considerably the Government outlay, which, however, has never exceeded $5,500,000 per year. The Government has taken adequate measures to compel the lines to make good their contracts, which they have been in the habit of neglecting, with detriment to the Government and general service. President Pelligrini, in his message to Congress, May, 1892, said:
The railroad lines should have returned to the Government, which guaranteed their capital, a certain percentage of their total profits. Nothing, however, has been returned, and although the net profits of several lines have greatly exceeded the interest guaranteed, none of these lines have returned the surplus, as the law requires. The nation has paid $16,000,000 in gold, without demanding the fulfillment of the above obligations. Taking into consideration, then, the money actually paid out by the nation, and the money which should have been paid in by the railroads to the Government, it results, that the railroads owe the latter more than $10,000,000 for retaining without right the surplus
The laws passed during the last year by your honorable body denote the line of conduct which the Executive should foilow. All the measures of the administration have tended to put into practice their good precepts, stopping abuses which time could not have legalized. The railroads are now placed under the immediate supervision of national inspectors. The general department of railroads, in which are united the technical and administrative inspections, is properly organized for such ends.
Says the English writer before quoted:
Argentina has a magnificent railway system. In May, 1891, there were in actual working order twenty-two lines of railway, with a total extension of 7,099 miles and an aggregate capital of £60,000,000. In course of construction there were 30 lines, some 7,826 miles in extension, and employing a proportionate amount of capital. At the close of the year 1889, there were 20 lines in operation, with a total length of 5,017 miles and acapital of £46,230,528; and in 1888, there were seventeen lines, with a total length of 4,788 miles and a capital of £38,600,000.
The magnitude and importance of the system may be judged from the following figures, of the year 1890: Miles in working order
6, 282 Passengers carried ...
13, 633, 769 Goods carried (English tons).
7, 472, 873 Miles run.....
218, 061, 163 Gross earnings..
£10, 217,673 Working expenses
£ 6,395, 473 Capital employed
£54, 138, 718 The Buenos Aires Great Southern line is, in most respects, the best line in the country. It has a greater mileage, employs a larger amount of capital, and is better equipped than any other railway in the Republic. Its terminus in Plaza Constitucion is the finest railway station in South America. The Buenos Aires and Rosario line ranks next in importance; but, notwithstanding its wealth and importance, it possesses no terminus of its own in the Federal Capital, but uses the Central Station in Paseo de Julio, in common with the Pacific, the Central Argentine, the Western, the Ensenada, and the Northern railways.
Passenger accommodations on Argentine railways are far superior to those provided by most of our own railway corporations. The cars are principally built on the Pullman plan, but more solidly upholstered, and adapted, of course, to the exigencies of the climate. The Rosario is the best line for travelers. The saloon coaches in the long-distance trains are supplied with lavatories and refreshment bars, and through the center aisles, one may promenade from one end of the train to the other. The Southern Railway coaches, though superbly fitted out, are less convenient for long journeys. The passengers are confined to one particular compartment, and although there are good lavatory accommodations, there are no accommodations whatsoever for refreshments, which are so necessary to the traveler through the dusty regions of the south. On most lines, the sleeping accommodations are excellent and at a trifling extra cost, private compartments may be secured. Nearly all the saloon cars on the Argentine railways are built in England. It seems anomalous that while in Argentina there is so much luxury, we at home should be content to jog along in the uncomfortable pens provided by our English railways.