Extract from Hartford Daily Times, August 14, 1915: At his death he was one of the six men who were at the head of the American railroad system, an art connoisseur and patron, a humanitarian and financier.
Read Collis Potter Huntington, Volume One, a 1954 biography by Cerinda W. Evans, free from Questia. His first employment was on a farm at a salary of eighty-four dollars a year and board. After he had saved $175 he started in the clock business and managed to get $3,000 credit on the recommendation of a neighbor. In 1842 he entered into partnership with his brother, Solon, in the general merchandise business at Oneonta, N. Y. Six years later he went to California as a merchant, and, at Sacramento, began business under a tent, selling implements and necessaries to miners. A store next followed.
Mr. Huntington then opened partnership in the hardware business with Mark Hopkins, the firm being Huntington & Hopkins. Later on Leland Stanford and Crocker brothers became his business partners and Stanford gave him his first incentive to become a railroad builder.
Mr. Huntington then, with Hopkins, the Crockers, T. T. Judah and Stanford, went to work on a scheme, and the survey of the Sierra Nevada mountains for a trans-continental railroad was made on money advanced by them. The result was the organization of the Central Pacific Railroad company, with Stanford, president, Huntington, vice-president, and Hopkins, treasurer, with a capital of $8,500,000. Subsequent undertakings more vast followed, which included the first railroad feat of planning and perfecting the whole California railroad system of 8,900 miles of track. Then followed the formation of a trans-continental line from Portland Ore., to New Orleans.
Next followed the construction of the Southern Pacific railroad from San Francisco through Los Angeles, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, a track from ocean to ocean, and the merging of twenty-six corporations with 9,000 miles of track into the organization known as the Southern Pacific company.
The Chesapeake & Ohio railroad was next completed, after the state of Virginia had failed to complete it, and in which endeavor many contractors were ruined.
Mr. Huntington then pushed his connections westward, through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, until he was able to rido his own private car over his own tracks from the gateway of the Old Dominion on the Atlantic to the Golden Gate on the Pacific coast, a feat accomplished by no other man in America.
Another enterprise which he was identified or assoclated with was the Pacific Mail Steamship company, with a fleet of sixteen vessels and 17,000 miles of water lines.
Mr. Huntington also founded the city of Newport News, Va., and invested more than $7,000,000 in a ship-yard there, which employed 4,000 men and turned out battleships. He there gave workmen every inducement to own their own homes.