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I know this was still the era of "cheap labor", but was it so cheap as to
The rail haul to New England coastal cities is vastly more expensive than
coastal shipping. Even today, commodities like cement, salt and oil arrive
in New England by ship and some of it is transloaded to rail. The salt may
be imported, but I think the oil comes from NJ-PA-DE and the cement comes
from the Atlantic seaboard somewhere. A lot of anthracite was once loaded
into ships in New Jersey and sent to New England -- even though there were
at least three all-rail routes available.