Huntington, Collis Potter

Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821–1900, American railroad builder, b. near Torrington, Conn. A storekeeper of Oneonta, N.Y., before he went West in the gold rush of 1849, he became a storekeeper in California, and by 1853 he and his partner, Mark Hopkins, were leading Sacramento hardware merchants. Seeing the desirability of a direct route to the silver mines newly opened in what is now Nevada, Huntington, Hopkins, Charles Crocker, and Leland Stanford organized a railroad company (the Central Pacific). Huntington's financial acumen and success in winning subsidies and favorable legislation from Congress gave him and his partners practical control of transportation in the West. They consolidated their power in forming (1884) the Southern Pacific, of which Huntington was president after 1890. His vast fortune was left mostly to his nephew, Henry Edwards Huntington, except for bequests to the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.

See O. Lewis, The Big Four (1938, repr. 1963); D. Lavender, Great Persuader (1970).

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