Re: Livestock through Chicago
Oops - Erie to NYCity was longer than the PRR to NYCity.
Just for reference, a PRR drawing of competing freight lines from Chicago to NYCity lists:
Via PRR To "Jersey City" - 917.7 miles
Via NYCentral to "New York City" - 951.3 miles - I am not sure which shore of the Hudson they are plotting but since it says New York instead of a New Jersey port, this would suggest a mileage without a ferry ride into NYCity.
Via Erie to Hoboken, NJ - 985.8 miles
Via B&O to Jersey City, NJ - 985.8 miles
The drawing also shows elevations and grades, and it obvious why the NYCentral was called the water level route. The other three all had significant grades en route. Hard to quantify which one had more total climb than the other, or even who had the most helper districts. But of the other three, I think the PRR could probably claim that it had the fewest significant grades to climb.
But they are close, so I am not sure there would have been an operating advantage among the "other" three, while one would expect the NYCentral, without any significant grades, to have an operational cost advantage over the other three for the Chicago to NYCity route.