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The greatest tycoons of the 19th century

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Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for purchase. One of the first and best remembered tycoons was Cornelius Vanderbilt, better known as the " Commodore. At first he worked with his father and then launched his own ferry service between Staten Island and New York City at the young age of This earned him the nickname " Commodore ," where he became legendary as a no-nonsense businessman. Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt. Collis P. Edward Harriman. James J. Charles Crocker.

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Great Fortunes from Railroads by Gustavus Myers

Daniel Drew. Leland Stanford. Mark Hopkins. Of course, Vanderbilt was not the only tycoon. Another noteworthy baron was Collis Huntington, part of the fabled " Big Four " that helped build the Central Pacific. It was directed to " construct a railroad and telegraph line from the Pacific coast, at or near San Francisco, or the navigable waters of the Sacramento River, to the eastern boundary of California. The railroad's groundbreaking took place on January 8, at K Street in Sacramento along the Sacramento River waterfront. It faced a difficult proposition in trying to hack out a right-of-way through the impenetrable Sierra Nevada mountain range, made all the more arduous by the lack of mechanized equipment; surveyors had to literally scale cliffs in finding a suitable grade while laborers used picks, shovels, and dynamite to form a roadbed.

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Focus this turned to completing the line across the relatively flat deserts of northern Nevada and Utah. Following this event, it was not long before Huntington and his associates were eyeing other endeavors. Hoping to eliminate the competition the " Big Four " had acquired the fledgling SP by In time the Central Pacific was slowly integrated into the Southern Pacific as the latter system expanded eastward, northward, and southward SP formally leased the CP on April 1, while it remained a corporate entity until June 30, Luis, Salt Lake City, and Portland.

Another of the greats was James J. Hill, the so-called " Empire Builder. Paul with the Canadian border at St. In he formed the St. Finally, in he incorporated the Great Northern Railway to acquire all of his holdings and by the GN had reached Seattle. Hill was an early proponent of the mega-merger movement, generations before it became reality. Most of the barons we know so well today lived from the midth to early 20th centuries.

During their time they oversaw much of our country's railroad expansion, growing from just a few thousand miles in to more than , by the peak year. Below is a timeline between those two dates:. One of the most interesting tycoons was George Gould. He was the eldest child of the famed Jay Gould and entered the business at 24, inheriting all of his father's railroad assets. Never as ambitious or merciless as his Dad, the younger Gould still found successful, overseeing several profitable railroads during his life.

His most noteworthy project was attempting to finish his father's legacy in completing a true coast-to-coast railroad. From there he turned his attention to the Midwest, reviving his father's former stakes in the Wabash Railroad. As Mr. Schafer notes in his book, " More Classic American Railroads ," his attempts to reach the Steel City came under fierce opposition against the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad.