The imports of this year are stated to he,
domestic, $18,868,129; foreign, $1,013,866.
The exports aggregated, domestic, $6,284,735, foreign, $5,648,116, making a total of about $12,000,000.
The wholesale trade diminished, owing to the cessation of railroad construction, but, as an offset, country merchants found that they could do better at Portland than at the East.
In 1885 there were shipped 4,546,540 centals of wheat, valued at $45,643,650, and 459,159 barrels of flour, valued at $1, 751, 589, making a total value of $7,394,239.
The shipment of wool aggregated 11,558,427 pounds, worth $1,637,936. The value of all exports reached $14,280,670, being $2,347,819 over the exports of the preceding year. The greatest crop of grain hitherto raised in the Northwest was harvested this year.
For 1886, the following table of exports still further illustrates the growth.
|Wheat, centals||4,919,346||Flax seed, sacks||68,431|
|Flour, barrels||605,694||Furs, hides, skins, etc., lbs.||2,383,710|
|Salmon, cases||548,366||Hops, pounds||6,520,036|
|Wool, pounds||19,227,105||Barrel stock, packages||11,594|
|Woolens, cases||819||Potatoes, sacks||111,062|
|Mill stuffs, sacks||227,719||Oats, sacks||209,126|
|Barley, centals||40,685||Laths, M||6,658|
|Leather, packages||590||Green fruit, boxes||91,166|
|Tallow, packages||1,765||Dried fruit, packages||7,236|
|Butter, packages||286||Ore, sacks||18,592|
|Eggs, packages||3,488||Onions, sacks||5,1648|
|Provisions, packages||6,570||Teasels, cases||29|
|Pig iron, tons||1,567||Stoves||1,615|
|Lumber, M||28,771||Total value of exports||$16,960,147.00|
For 1887 the shipment of wheat was 173,915
tons, and flour, 45,766 tons, making a
total-all reduced to wheat-of 237,989 tons.
The total export of 1887 was $13,985,681.
The statistics of wheat for 1888 are given as follows:
|To Europe-Centals||3,149,764||valued at||$3,716,598|
|To San Francisco-Centals||1,099,109||valued at||1,288,819|
The shipment of flour for the same period is shown by the following table:
|San Francisco-Barrels||107,834||valued at||397,346|
The total shipment of wheat reached
4,462,371 centals, of a value of $5, 716,598
; flour, 644,471 barrels, of a value of $2,
The total export of 1888 reached $16,385,658. The shipment of salmon was 428,437 cases; the production of wool about 18, 000, 000 pounds.
It may be noticed in relation to the foregoing statistics that they are to a large extent incomplete, nor always correct so far as given; but they are the best to be obtained, and it is believed that the natural tendency to exaggeration is largely offset by the difficulty, or even impossibility, of finding a record of all products and exports. Indeed, for the purposes of this work it is not necessary that they should absolutely be impregnable, yet they are probably fully as reliable as those tabulated for other cities or other lines of industry. In some departments, such as salmon, wool, and to some extent in wheat and flour, the product of near or surrounding points has been undoubtedly tabulated with that of Portland; and in the case of wheat and flour considerable shipments have been made by rail to Tacoma for lading on foreign vessels. But this feature has now been obviated by the new pilotage laws so that port charges and towage on the rivers do not increase expenses of loading at Portland to a point above that at ports on Puget Sound. The facts given above show substantially the volume of business done by Portland, or by Portland capitalists.
Present Character and Conditions
From the preceding pages it will be noticed
how Portland has weathered all the storms of
opposition from the earliest days, and has
advanced to and continued to hold the
position as emporium of the Pacific
Northwest. In the primitive times she proved
the superiority of her position over points
on the lower Willamette for lading and
unlading. Having securely gained this
pre-eminence she proceeded during the second
era to emancipate herself from the
commercial tyranny of San Francisco, and
during the third to build up an independent
commerce with the world. Since 1868 she has
stood before the nations as an autonomous
power` in commercial affairs, acting without
fear or favor, and pressing her activities
on the simple basis of the advantages that
she possessed and the facilities which she
could give. She boldly entered upon the
construction of railroad lines, calling in
capital from California, from the East and
from Europe, and thereby made a practical
test of what she was able to do. If, by
virtue of position and business activity,
she should prove inferior to other points,
these railroads would necessarily withdraw
from her, her capital and population leaving
her stranded upon the shoals of bankruptcy.
But if, on the other hand, her position and
business enterprise enabled her to serve the
entire surrounding region, these lines of
transportation would give her still greater
advantages. Amid all vicissitudes-social,
commercial and political-incident upon
construction of railroads, Portland steadily
held her own; and, now that these lines are
completed and in operation, finds her wealth
and population increased four or five fold.
She finds herself more secure than ever as
the emporium and business center of the
Pacific Northwest. Her present position is
that accorded to her by nature, as the point
of exchange between domestic productions and
foreign imports, the point of supply for
interior towns and country places, and the
general depot for the stores that must
somewhere be held in readiness for the use
of the people.
The character of her business at present is determined by that of the surrounding sections. While they raise wheat she must handle and sell wheat; their wool, fruit, ores, lumber, fish, coal, iron, cattle and other domestic productions all figure in her lists as passing through her for market.
This work being chiefly historical need not here be burdened with further details of commerce. It is confidently believed, however, that the exports of 1889 will reach a greater value than for any preceding year. These will, of course, be of the same character so far as quality or kind is concerned, as of years before. They will be drawn from the entire circle of valleys and mountains from the California and Montana borders.
It will not be necessary to insert here a disquisition upon the commercial needs of Portland, nevertheless the reader will naturally think of the steps that must be taken to make Portland complete as an emporium. First of all, it remains to perfect that confidence between Portland and the agricultural communities which will induce them to rely upon her merchants. Portland must reach such friendly terms with the farmers and graziers that her business men may never with any semblance of propriety be called "Shylocks." Our merchants must seek rather the enlargement of their sales than a large per cent. upon each one, knowing that a profit of even one per cent. on a hundred dollars, or orders worth a hundred dollars, is better than that of three per cent. on but twenty dollars; and the small merchants and dealers of the country must be encouraged to feel that they are made to share with Portland the advantages which result from her superior natural position.
For another thing the people of Portland must learn to regard the whole Northwest as in a measure their "farm." That is, they must feel the same interest in improving and developing the fields, forests and mines of all this region that the energetic farmer feels in making his own acres productive. Every effort must be put forth to bring wild lands in cultivation, to increase the area of orchards and the number of flocks and herds, and, if possible, to render substantial assistance to settlers who find the difficulties of pioneer life too great to be overcome. In some sections capitalists have greatly increased the productions of the soil, and enhanced values by selling land for an interest in the crop for a term of years until the purchase price was liquidated. It is possible that extensive orchards and the cultivation of wild lands might be profitably encouraged in the same way.
For the most part the business men of Portland will find it to their greatest advantage to encourage those kinds of industry and occupation as lead to the settlement of the country and to the introduction of families. It is to he noticed that great as has been the volume of money turned over by the salmon canning business of the country, but comparatively little real advantage has accrued to the State. The business itself has been grossly overdone, the supply of fish well nigh exhausted, and for a large part at least, but an idle, transitory and turbulent element of laborers attracted hither. In like manner the immense lumbering business of Puget Sound and the lower Columbia has brought no benefit proportionate to the amount of capital employed and the money made. Exhausted forests and too frequently dissatisfied and demoralized communities have followed in the path of the ax and saw. A lesson also may be gathered from the great plains of Texas and Dakota, where the cattle and wheat business are cultivated by a class of capitalists who are themselves in New York or in London, and delegate to agents the management of their immense herds and fields. A band of cow-boys, or a camp of plow-men and harvesters, for a few months in the year are the only inhabitants of plains and meadows that might well support thousands of families. By such management the utmost extravagance of methods is engendered. Pastures are eaten out, soils exhausted, and the country left in a condition inviting the English or Irish system of landlordism. Portland wants nothing of this. She should consider that it is a State filled with families, with a multitude of rural towns, and with productive manufactories, that makes demand for the immense imports which she is to store and to distribute, and which provides the immense exports to be exchanged for the imports. For this reason she will principally encourage such industries as fruit raising, dairying, sheep and stock raising by small farmers small farms; the raising of poultry and the labor of small manufactories, and of persons in rural communities.
It remains also to open up the water ways,
to complete the natural entrance at the
mouth of the Columbia river, and to unlock
the gates of the Columbia to the whole
By such liberal policy, by breadth of plan and outlook, by exercise of a spirit of fraternity and accommodation, Portland will maintain her ascendancy. The conditions out of which monopolies and oppressive combinations arise will be prevented. Although expecting to run a hard race with San Francisco and even some Eastern city as Chicago, and with some local rivals for control of the business in certain portions of her field, she need have no fear of the result.
Locally, there is room here for great lumber yards, cattle yards, fruit canning establishments, cold storage houses and depots of supply for the merchant marine, for the fishing stations of Alaska, and for the mines of the upper Columbia. These will come in time.