The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947

Recollections of the Sstablish-
meet of the eCras Railroad
ComNission
M. M. CRANE
N THE last quarter of the nineteenth century the question of
government regulation of railroads became a major issue in
politics, both state and national. The Grange and other groups
had been active in mobilizing public support of the farmers'
program to remedy what they considered the unduly high rates
and discriminatory practices of the railroads. This movement
resulted in the passage of legislation creating state railroad
commissions and the Federal Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
In Texas, the regulation of freight rates was a major political
issue in the years 1880-1891, along with the "free grass ques-
tion."
The question of freight rates was obviously important as the
rich blacklands of middle and North Texas were being culti-
vated. There was no way to reach foreign markets except by
railroads. We had no navigable streams. The owners of the
railroads were like many other people. Having the power to
charge what they pleased, they were never overly modest in
fixing their compensation. The Texans believed they were being
unjustly discriminated against, and thereby their vocation as
farmers was made less and less profitable.
Judge A. W. Terrell was the first to advocate a railroad com-
mission in Texas. During the 1885 session of the legislature,
he convinced me that a railroad commission was necessary for
the agriculturists and for the merchants doing business in the
interior of the state as well. His arguments on that question
seemed to me unanswerable. As he pointed out, Texas was large.
From the interior the seaports were inaccessible except over
roads which, much of the season, became impassable. As now,
we had no navigable streams running in any direction. The
railroads became a necessity for the transportation of farm
products and all outgoing freight as well as for freight from
outside shipped into Texas. This situation was intensified by

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/. Accessed September 19, 2014.