The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932

THE
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL
QUARTERLY
VoL. XXXV JULY, 1931 No. 1
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed by
contributors to THE QUARTERLY
TEXAS AND THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD,
1848-1860
S. S. MCKAY
The settled area of Texas in 1850 was still confined to the
river bottoms of east and south Texas. The entire state was
bordering upon, if not a part of, the frontier. The population
of the state in 1850 was 212,000, averaging less than one person
to the square mile, as the area was 253,000 square miles. Agri-
culture was, of course, the principal industry and the distribution
of farms along the rivers resulted from the fact that there was
available no means of transportation except the rivers. The
smallness of the streams explains further the fact that the more
thickly settled area was confined to east and south Texas; for the
rivers could be used for the transportation of farm produce only
a short distance from their mouths.
During flood seasons small rafts loaded with cotton and other
products were floated from the river valley farms down to the
coast, and steamers occasionally risked a trip up the swollen
streams and engaged in commerce in spite of the dangers of such
travel. Away from the more thickly-settled eastern part of the
state, where diversification of crops had made some headway, the
ox-wagon was used as the commercial carrier. But for the ox-
wagon the prairie and valley roads were impassable for several
months of the year during the rainy season. The result was that
freight rates were very high, usually about 20 cents per ton per
mile.' These prices for such heavy articles as cotton were pro-
1Potts, C. S., Railroad Transportation in Texas, 17.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/. Accessed December 26, 2014.