CONTACTS: Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260, email@example.com
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cast of Characters
William Bayard (1814–1907): New York businessman who was involved in promoting various transportation schemes. In 1849, he went before Congress to propose a railroad route to carry the U.S. mail as well as passengers, and later, in 1856, he proposed a stagecoach route from Missouri to California for the same purposes.
Asa Whitney (1797–1872): New York merchant and one of the earliest promoters of a transcontinental railroad.
George Wilkes (1817–1885): New York newspaperman who edited a string of papers. In 1845, he published A History of Oregon, Geographical and Political. That same year, he published an extract from that work titled A Project for a National Railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. It was very popular and was in its fourth edition by 1847.
The Founders: The Central Pacific Railroad (Known as “The Big Four”)Charles Crocker
(1822–1888): Initially served as construction supervisor of the Central Pacific Railroad and later as president of one of its subsidiaries, Charles Crocker & Co. Later he became a shareholder of Wells Fargo and eventually held controlling interests in several banks, including Crocker Bank.Mark Hopkins
(1813–1878): Founded the New England Mining and Trading Co. after the California Gold Rush and later became a merchant in Sacramento in the 1850s. In 1855 he partnered with Collis P. Huntington by forming Huntington Hopkins and Co. He served as the treasurer of the Central Pacific.Collis P. Huntington
(1821–1900): In addition to helping to build the Central Pacific, Huntington also helped establish other lines, including the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. He was the uncle of Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927), founder of the Huntington Library.Leland Stanford
(1824–1893): Before joining his three associates in the Central Pacific Railroad venture, Stanford worked as a lawyer in Wisconsin and then as a merchant in Sacramento in the 1850s. He served briefly as president of the railroad, until 1862, when he was elected governor of California. After leaving politics he served as president of the Southern Pacific. He and his wife founded Stanford University in 1885 in tribute to their son, who died of typhoid at the age of 15.
The Founders: The Union Pacific RailroadOakes Ames
(1804–1873): As a congressman from Massachusetts, he was a strong advocate of the Union Pacific Railroad and later was caught up in the scandals of Crédit Mobilier, a business venture that led to one of the great scandals of the 1870s.Oliver Ames
(1807–1877): Brother of Oakes Ames. President of the Union Pacific at the time it joined the Central Pacific. He and Thomas Durant had a contentious relationship vis-à-vis the Union Pacific and Crédit Mobilier.Grenville Dodge
(1831–1916): A Union Army officer, U.S. congressman, and chief engineer of the Union Pacific. He is featured in a famous photograph (By Andrew J. Russell) shaking hands with Samuel S. Montague at the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869.Thomas Durant
(1820–1885): Served as vice president of the Union Pacific in 1869 when it joined the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit in Utah. Among his financial dealings was the creation of Crédit Mobilier.
The EngineersJack and Dan Casement
: Brothers who oversaw the construction of the Union Pacific. Jack (1829–1909) was a former general in the Union Army during the Civil War and oversaw construction from Fremont, Neb., to the railroad’s completion at Promontory Summit, Utah. Dan (1832–1881) financed the operation.Lewis M. Clement
(1837–1914): As construction engineer for the Central Pacific, Clement helped plan and build the route through the Sierra Nevada mountains and the deserts of the Nevada and Utah territories. Theodore D. Judah
(1826–1863): The first chief engineer of the Central Pacific who also directed the survey that determined the route of the railroad over the Sierra Nevada mountains.Samuel Skerry Montague
(1830–1883): Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific, specifically the western half.
The ArtistsCurrier & Ives
: An American printmaking firm based in New York City and headed by Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888) and James Merritt Ives (1824–1895). Active from 1834 to 1907, it produced lithographs of everything from paintings by fine artists to popular advertisements. Alfred A. Hart
(1816–1908): Photographer known for his stereo views of the construction of the Central Pacific in the 1860s.Andrew J. Russell
(1830–1902): An American photographer best known for his images of the Civil War and the Union Pacific. One of his most iconic images features the joining of the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah.
The ParticipantsWilliam Blackmore
(1827–1878): English lawyer and promoter of investments in the post–Civil War American West; noted for his failed investment related to the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. George Crofutt
(1827–1907): Publisher of The Great trans-continental tourist's guide . . . from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean
(1870) and Crofutt’s trans-continental tourist's guide . . . over the Union Pacific railroad, Central Pacific railroad of Cal., their branches and connections by stage and water
(1874). His pioneering work in developing railroad guidebooks proved a significant contribution to tourism and travel in America.Samuel R. Curtis
(1805–1866): A Union Army general in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the Civil War, Republican member of Congress, and railroad promoter. He chaired the Select Committee of the House of Representatives on the Pacific Railroad in 1860, twice introduced legislation to facilitate construction of a transcontinental railroad (which became the basis of the eventual Pacific Railroad Act) and was deeply involved in the promotion of railroads in Iowa, an interest he maintained during his military service in the Civil War.Thomas L. Kimball
(1831–1901): As an official for two of the most prominent American railroads, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad, he worked with such well-known railroad men as Thomas Scott and Jay Gould.Robert Strahorn
(1852–1944): Author of promotional pamphlets about the West. Employed by the Union Pacific, Strahorn represented an important type of publicist who aggressively promoted the states, territories, and regions served by various railroads in hopes of encouraging investment, settlement, and tourist travel.
The CriticsCharles Francis Adams Jr.
(1835–1915): Great grandson of John Adams and grandson of John Quincy Adams; he served as a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War and as president of the Union Pacific in the late 1880s. He also served on the Massachusetts Railroad Commission, a state regulatory body. He was a vocal critic of railroad companies’ financial manipulations, which produced great profits for owners and investors while burdening the railroads with excessive debts to be paid off by customers.Henry George
(1839–1897): Writer and political economist best known for his treatise Progress and Poverty
(1879), which addressed the cyclical nature of industrial economies. He was a vociferous critic of the railroads.
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