Flashback: the ICC & the railroads

By Scott Mall, Freight Waves; February 1, 2019

The Interstate Commerce Act was passed in response to rising public concern with the growing power and wealth of corporations, particularly railroads, during the late 19th century. At that time, railroads were the principal form of transportation for both people and goods, and the prices they charged and the practices they adopted greatly influenced the entire economy.

To many, the railroads were perceived to have abused their power as a result of too little competition. Railroads also banded together to form trusts that fixed rates at higher levels than they could otherwise command. In addition, railroads often charged a higher price per mile for short hauls than for long hauls. This practice was perceived as discrimination against individuals and smaller businesses.

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