By Roger Price
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Additional info for An Economic History of Modern France, 1730–1914
51. 11. This section owes a great deal to F. Caron, Histoire de /'exploitation d'un grand reseau. La compagnie du chemin du fer du Nord, 1846-1937, 1973, pp. 86-7. a 37 12. , 'Recherches sur le capital des voies de communication en France au 19e siecle' in L'industrialisation en Europe au 19e siecle, 1972, p. 240. 13. , Le transports de marchandises par fer, route et eau depuis 1850, 1960, p. 39. 14. , Revolution industrielle et sous-developpment, 1969, p. 329. 15. Toutain, op. , p. 258. 16. , p.
The use of steamers on the Seine rapidly undermined the role of the Loire. Steamers drew too much water to be used extensively on this shallow river, and the advantage it had formerly offered to sailing vessels, due to its orientation and relative lack of meanders, was now lost. By 1842 traffic on the lower Seine had reached 435,000 tonnes as compared with some 310,000 tonnes on the Loire between Nantes and Orleans. Although relatively few communities enjoyed access to them, the programme of canal construction made possible economic development, particularly in coal-mining and metallurgy, which could not otherwise have occurred.
Money remained a necessity, even in the most self-sufficient rural communities; therefore the significance of the merchant in rural society should not be underestimated, or the participation of most peasant farmers in the market. Even though it was marginal, it was nonetheless of crucial importance. As communications improved and market structures adapted to this, intermediaries with a certain commercial expertise had an increasingly important part to play, and began to replace the face-to-face character of many transactions between farmer and merchant.