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Samsun


Road transportation network    EN

Author: ERLER ΜΕΗΜΕΤ YAVUZ

*Professor of 19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey

Samsun depended mostly on river and sea transport. The transportation with its hinterland was provided by footpaths which allowed transport by animal packs. There were regular camel caravans organised by the state, composed by 3-4,000 camels for the carriage of mine products between Tokat and Samsun since 1790[1]. State caravans of the same amount of camels continued up to the 1870s according to archival sources [2]. In 1864, when a large number of immigrants from the Russian Caucasia flowed into Samsun’s urban and rural areas, labor became abundant at the low cost of a bread per day[3]. Some of these immigrants suffered from unemployment in the inner parts of Anatolia due to the inadequate transport facilities. However some of the Caucasians brought with them some of their transport animals, especially fine Caucasian horses. They even established farms around the town of Samsun breeding horses or other kind of heavy load beasts[4]. Though the transport animals and heavy load beasts increased in the Samsun, thanks to the new settlers from Caucasus, the land routes remained extremely difficult. They were interrupted by rivers and part of the transport had to be made by rafts with great loss of time. The routes which linked Samsun with the port cities along the coastline were also interrupted by impassable rivers or creeks and there were no bridges to facilitate transport. Bridges started to be built up in 19th century and were generally made of wood building materials; rarely there were bridges built by stones[5].

Small progress was made by the Ottoman government on developing the transport conditions in 1859 by trying to make some proper roads to connect Samsun with the hinterland[6]. In 1862 it was reported that “the great quantity of grain exported in thirty months, at such an immense disadvantage as the want of the means of transport raises the cost, by the absence of roads. It is a kind of necessity to built railway or at least a carriage road from the port of Samsun to the interior of Asia Minor, where the cultivation of grain of Amassia, Tokat, Marsovan, Sivas, Uzgat, Kaisseriah and even Kharput was considered as unlimited. If the present tracks and pathways, which were almost impassable in winter were redeveloped to offer a proper transport, it would make this port as important as the one in Odessa. Merchants’ vessels lying in Samsun, some of them two months, and even three, waited for their cargoes to come down from the interior, on horses, mules, camels, assess and very rarely on bullock carts”[7].

The highway construction which would bind Samsun to Amasya started by the English in 1867 in order to help the commercial development of the city. The road started to be constructed by Mösyö Pavel in 1867 and it was intended to provide connection with the port. Mösyö Pavel who provided the needed capital and technology for the construction of Samsun-Amasya-Tokat-Sivas highway demanded to have the privilege of constructing new dock and piers and exemption from customs duty from ports and piers in return for his services[8]. In 1867 a stone bridge was constructed on Mert river, located very close to the east edge of the town on the way towards inner lands and Charshamba, situated at the bank of the Yeshil river[9]. The former road crossed on the north west of the town, through the Kurtun river and its valley and that of the Mert river keeping 1 or 2 miles north of Tckakhalli-Khan and Cavak, making its junction near the Aksoo river. The carriage road starts at the nearest point from the Custom-house, outside the town, and runs right over the hills extending south of Samsun and starting to climb only three quarters of a mile from the shore. This section of the carriage road, which was called Chukur-Tcheshme road, was 40 feet wide[10].

In 1869 the road condition in Samsun was such that the way to Marsivan took 16 hours. This part of the road passed over the hills. The roads of Osmanjik from the west, and of Yuzgat and Chorum from the south, united there on their way to the sea. From Marsivan the road passed to Amasia, a distance of seven hours. The ground was nearly level, the road traversed the “Sooli Ova” (plain of waters) and thence entered the valley of the Yeshil river. The eastern route connected Amasia with Charshamba, Niksar and Kara-Hisar all trading districts[11]. From Amasia, one could reach to Tokat, Ankara, and even as far to Sivas, Kayseria down to the Mesopotamia. It was reported that a road construction of 4,5 miles in length and 24 feet wide between Uniah and Niksar was constructed in 1883. On that same year another construction had taken place, a road from Samsun to Sivas, 33 miles long and with an average width of 23 feet, out of which 20 feet of macadam. For this road nine large and nine small stone ridges had to be built, along with 114 of stone and wood, and two temporary wooden ones between. The governor of the province Sirri Pacha praised the effort for road constructions who increased employement. Only in Samsun days of labor employment for the construction of roads had reached the number of 380,000[12]. The number of laborers who worked on the road in 1882 was 25,400 and the days of labor for each about five or six per week[13]. Though engineers were paid by the Government, and workers worked six days per week, the road construction work went very slowly and took years to be completed; it was completed at about 1897. The high cost of transport by the rough ox-carts in use prevented any profit to be realized. The cost of grain transport from Sivas to Samsun was 1 kantar of 180 okes (4,5 cwts.) for 10 to 12 mejidiehs (Ottoman golden coin equal in the currency to 2 pounds). The use of the road laid out after 1897 from Sivas, Tokat through Niksar to the port of Unie reduced the cost of transport by 20 per cent[14]. Between Sivas and Samsun goods were transported by carts and camels, also by horses, mules and donkeys. The cost of transport by cart varied from about 4,5 medjidiehs per kantar in summer to 7,5 medjidiehs in winter. Transport by camel was slightly cheaper, varying from 3,5 to 6,5 medjidiehs per kantar[15].

The highway was constructed taking under consideration the “menzils” (small inns- caravan stations) which provided a living for the local people at the old route and also were very important for the feeding and rest of the animals. Carts driven by horses were important for the transport and were sold in the region at the cost of 100-200 silver ottoman coins between the years of 1868 and 1872[16]. For that reason, bridges with stone pillars had to be built. A bridge for example was built for the route to Maden Kabı (Mine Pot) on Mert River which was an old way route; it cost 80,000 liras. Bridges built on the rivers located on the road linking Samsun to its hinterland cost an average of 70,000 liras (golden Ottoman coin). It was reported by the English consul Alfred Biliotti that a total number of 9 stone bridges wide enough for the passage of carts, were built in Karga Valley between the years of 1867 and 1882[17]. One of the towns in the area of Samsun, Uniah, had access to the Sıvas province via Niksar by a road that was constructed in 1886 at a length of 48 miles, with 66 bridges[18].

 


[1] Fahrettin Tızlak, Osmanlı Döneminde Keban-Ergani Yöresinde Madencilik (1775-1850), Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1997, p.169.

[2] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, "The Economy of the Ottoman Black Sea in the XIX th century", The Journal of International Social Research, Volume 2/7, Spring 2009, p. 123.

[3] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p.543-545.

[4] Abdurrahman Okuyan, 1772 no’lu Samsun Sheriyya Sicils, M.A. Thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 1998, p. 151.

[5] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p.548-549.

[6] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.263.

[7] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p. 287.

[8] BOA., HR.TO. 449/68, 1867.3.7

[9] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p.548.

[10] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1033-1034.

[11] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p. 359.

[12] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.855.

[13] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol.II, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1035.

[14] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. III, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1299.

[15] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. III, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1348.

[16] “A cart estimated to 120 ottoman silver coins in 1868”, see: Mehmet Coşkun, Samsun Şheriyya Sicils (1285-1286 H.), M.A. Thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 1991, p. 114. “A horse cart estimated to 200 silver otoman coins in 1872”, see: Abdurrahman Okuyan, 1772 no’lu Samsun Sheriyya Sicils, M.A. Thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 1998, p. 79-80.

[17] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, vol. P.

[18] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. III, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1099.


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