Here's another item from an 1896 California weekly. It is a little difficult for the 21st century reader to remember that "road" at that time was shorthand for "railroad" or sometimes "streetcar line."
Incidently, only a rather small portion of the material in The San Jose Letter strikes me as particularly Georgist. (You'll see most of it here!)
The First Street Road and Single Tax
The San Jose Letter, May 30, 1896
A very good illustration of the unfairness and unjustness of our land system was furnished by the failure of the First Street Electric Road Company. Jacob Rich, practically the company, has been a pioneer in local street car building, has failed, and stepped aside for others to reap the benefits of his toil and experiments.
It would be better for the community if the roads were all owned and operated by the city, but since they are not, and could not be, under existing conditions, the individual whose enterprise secures them is entitled to the gratitude of the people.
Rich spent thousands in experimenting on the San Jose and Santa Clara road. At the moment it began to pay, he found himself so situated, financially, that he was obliged to dispose of the property, thereby sinking a large fortune. Along the line of this particular road are situated many building lots. These lots doubled and trebled in value on account of the road. But Rich was not benefited. Individual owners, who stayed quietly at home, laughed at Rich as a crank, and condemned his road, found their fortunes doubled on account of it, but Rich got nothing. He was obliged to dispose of even the road itself, when it began to pay, a poorer man by many thousands of dollars. But I have not heard of one land owner whose property was benefitted by the road offering to help him out.
After getting free from the Santa Clara road tangle, Rich mortgaged his real estate, and hypothecated his securities to raise money to build the First street line, and the numerous extensions of the system. He then bonded the property to improve it, and eventually came to the end of his magnificent fortune. He failed then, disastrously.
The building of the First street line and its extensions have made many holders of suburban property wealthy. Rich does not get the benefit of this. He built the lines that have made the property more desirable for building purposes; has put the extra value upon them in fact, but he gets nothing for it, and the very people who have been benefited are now condemning him for losing his money in such an unprofitable venture.
Under a system of single tax the benefit of the increased value of the land to the community, which was occasioned by the new lines of street cars, would have been enjoyed by the whole people and not by individuals. Had the car lines been built by the municipality, by the people, the money lost in establishing and perfecting them would have been made up by the increased amount the community, the whole people, would have received from their outlying lands.
For instance, if the rent, which the people received for the lands before the roads were built, equaled 5% of their value as agricultural lands, when their value became doubled or trebled on account of the new demand for them as residence lots, caused by the building of the car lines, the rent or single tax would become double what it had been before the improvements were made. Thus the increased revenue from the land would make up the deficit that might result on account of the road before it became established. In a word, the losses growing out of the first few years' expenses of the road would be borne by the whole community who would in return be benefited by the increased value of the suburban lands. One man would not be ruined by the experimental line, while another had his fortune doubled or trebled, but the advantages and disadvantages would be shared by all.
The people recognize that something is decidedly wrong in our economic system. They all turn doctors of economics to remedy the matter, and set up economic cure-alls, warranted to make everybody sick. Apparently sane men tell us that "high protection" will result in all the economic reforms on the list. Others are for low tariff, others for single standard, others for free silver, others for prohibition, and so on and so on to the end of the chapter. Everything is tried, and has been tried over and over again, but the only thing that will ever permit men to enter the struggle of existence unhampered will be a system of single tax by which natural resources would be turned to the use of the whole community, and not to the benefit and advantage of individuals.
A progressive, energetic man like Jacob Rich would not then be beggared by his endeavors to improve conditions in the community, while the non-progressive Silurian of a land-holder has his fortune doubled and trebled through the efforts of another.