The following are excerpts from an article that ran in the Towanda Daily Review in 1920 for all Lehigh Valley Railroad workers.
An entirely new policy was adopted by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company in dealing with its 26,000 employees.
Publicity of its financial affairs succeeded secrecy which had been its practice for years.
For the first time in its history the company voluntarily opened its book of operating expenses and revenues to its partners, who did the actual operating.
A circular was sent out from the main office of the Lehigh Valley in New York City, signed by E. E. Loomis, president, that took the men into the confidence of the company.
Its purpose the paper stated, “To keep our employees posted regarding the railroad and its progress. Further questions that may occur to you will be willingly answered by your superior officers.”
At its conclusion, the circular invited and urged that Lehigh Valley employees purchase stock in the company. The stock in 1920 was selling for $43.50 for a $50 share and it paid a dividend of 7 per cent.
A total revenue was received in 1919 for transportation of freight, passenger, milk express, etc., of $ 65,542,502.02. The larger more important items were: Anthracite coal, $20,740,261.10. Merchandise freight, $28,531,805.03. Passengers, $6,827,896.62. Anthracite coal showed a decrease under 1918 of $485,079.80; merchandise freight of $623,784.93.
Passenger service on the other hand showed an increase of $592,961.31.
Important expenses for 1919 were given as: Maintenance of Way, $9,824,637.09. Maintenance of Equipment, $18,152,709.54. Transportation—rail, $28,870,526.18. On additions and betterments to property there was $4,994,647.17.
Out of every dollar that the Lehigh Valley Co. received, the report stated the following percentages were paid out: Wages to employees, 53c. Materials, supplies, etc., 28 ½ c. Taxes, etc., 3c. Net income, 5 ½ c. A dividend of 7 per cent, which the company paid last in 1919, was explained by “returns from investments and income received from outside sources.”
An average of 42 empty and 30 loaded cars were carried by a freight train. The latter bore an average load of 31 tons to a car.
Freight was transported at a cost of a trifle less than nine-tenths of a cent a mile for each ton.
Paying passengers totaled 6,796,350 for the year. The average distance was 39 miles. The average fare was $1.
In the rails laid there were 15,082 tons of steel. The average cost of material and labor for laying the rail track was $41.60 a ton. In 1920 the increase in the price of steel brought the cost to $64.30.
In other words, a 33-foot rail, of 136 pounds standard cost placed in the track, $41.87.
Spikes cost 3c apiece, and tie plates 50c each.
During the year 662,031 ties were placed in the tracks, of which 530,832 were creosoted. The average cost of a creosoted tie, with the cost of transportation and labor in putting it in place, was $1.85. In 1920 the average cost amounted to $2.46.
Coal for its locomotives in 1919 cost “The Valley” $6,533,183.41. At a total consumption of 1,775,193 tons, that was $3.68 a ton. An ordinary tenderful therefore, meant an investment of $36.80. Each scoopful, therefore, cost 2 ¾ c. Bituminous coal was then costing the company $515 a ton almost four cents a scoopful.
Loss and damage claims on freight was enormous. They amounted to $14,200 a day. That was an increase of $545,420.47 for the year—more than $679,978.93 over 1918.
At the end of 1919, the Lehigh Valley R. R. Co. had 6,942 stockholders, of whom 6,139 were women. On June 1, 1920, the number of stockholders had increased to 18,290. On the latter date the company had 26, 360 employees. There were 8,070 more employees, than investors.
Applications were pending before the labor board for increases in pay for many classes of employees. if they were granted in their entity; they would amount to about $9,999,000 for the Lehigh Valley alone. This would bring the annual expenditure of labor to approximately $43,000,000.
With no advances in rates would mean that labor, materials, etc., would cost the company $1.07 for every $1 of revenue it receives from operation.
On June 1, a $50 share of Lehigh Valley stock was selling for $45. The dividend on this share was $3.50 a year, or 7 per cent, but at the price of stock in 1920 the return on money invested was more than 8 per cent.
“You know the property and the possibilities. Many of you may see it is an opportunity for an investment of your savings which will not only return good interest, but also furnish new incentive for your work.”
“Employees should be as interested in this report as are the stockholders. The railroad is the source of your income. Just as its success is largely dependent on your loyal and industrious work so also does its prosperity and success make your earnings more certain.”
Edward Eugene Loomis, the son of Chester and Esther Loomis, was born on a farm in Herkimer County, NY. At an early age he became interested in railroading and worked his way successfully through many railroads until being appointed President of the Lehigh Valley in 1917. He held this position until he retired in1937. He died July 12, 1937. He served as a trustee of the Robert Packer Hospital for many years.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.