The Valuation Act of 1913, passed into law on March 1, 1913, required the Interstate Commerce Commission to organize a Bureau of Valuation and to administer a complete valuation of the real property and assets of every railroad in the United States. The Act was a classic piece of Progressive Era railroad legislation designed to find a scientific basis for setting railroad tariffs (or shipping charges) by determining the real value of each railroad's property and assets. The legislators who drafted the Act assumed that with this information the ICC would be able to set rates according to the principle of a reasonable rate of return on the real value of each railroad and the industry as a whole. The ICC formulated a set of procedural and reporting standards for the valuation and then permitted the individual railroads to complete the valuation under the nominal supervision of an ICC administrator. The valuation process began in 1914 and was substantially complete by 1921. Written by Scott Randolph
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