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The Big Four, Builders Of The World's First Transcontinental Railroad Through Their Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) - Leland Stanford, Collis Potter Huntington, Mark Hopkins Jr., And Charles Crocker - For All The Great Good, Great Bad And Great Change That The Railroad Brought, Hosted And Narrated By Kenny Rogers And Presented In The Highest DVD Quality MPG Video Format Of 9.1 MBPS As An MP4 Video Download Or Archival Quality All Regions Format DVD! (Color, 1993, 48 Minutes.)
"The Big Four" was the name popularly given to the famous and influential businessmen, philanthropists and railroad tycoons who funded the Central Pacific Railroad (C.P.R.R.), which formed the western portion through the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States, built from the mid-continent at the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean during the middle and late 1860s. Composed of Leland Stanford (1824–1893), Collis Potter Huntington (1821–1900), Mark Hopkins Jr. (1813–1878), and Charles Crocker (1822–1888), the four themselves, however, personally preferred to be known as "The Associates." They enriched themselves utilizing tax money and land grants, while heavily influencing the State legislature from within the Republican party (Stanford was governor of California when the first of the Pacific Railroad Acts was passed), and through monopolizing tactics. Contemporary critics claimed they were the greatest swindlers in U.S. history.
Amasa Leland Stanford (March 9, 1824 - June 21, 1893) was an American industrialist and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the 8th governor of California from 1862 to 1863 and represented California in the United States Senate from 1885 until his death in 1893. He and his wife Jane were also the founders of Stanford University, which they named after their late son. Prior to his political career, Stanford was a successful merchant and wholesaler who built his business empire after migrating to California during the Gold Rush. As president of the Central Pacific Railroad and later the Southern Pacific from 1885 to 1890, he held tremendous power in the region and a lasting impact on California. Stanford is widely considered a robber baron.
Collis Potter Huntington (October 22, 1821 - August 13, 1900) was an American industrialist and railway magnate. He was one of the Big Four of western railroading (along with Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker) who invested in Theodore Judah's idea to build the Central Pacific Railroad as part of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad. Huntington helped lead and develop other major interstate lines, such as the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O), which he was recruited to help complete. The C&O, completed in 1873, fulfilled a long-held dream of Virginians of a rail link from the James River at Richmond to the Ohio River Valley. The new railroad facilities adjacent to the river there resulted in expansion of the former small town of Guyandotte, West Virginia into part of a new city which was named Huntington in his honor. Turning attention to the eastern end of the line at Richmond, Huntington directed the C&O's Peninsula Extension in 1881-82, which opened a pathway for West Virginia bituminous coal to reach new coal piers on the harbor of Hampton Roads for export shipping. He also is credited with the development of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, as well as the incorporation of Newport News, Virginia as a new independent city. After his death, both his nephew Henry E. Huntington and his stepson Archer M. Huntington continued his work at Newport News. All three are considered founding fathers in the community, with local features named in honor of each. Much of the railroad and industrial development which Collis P. Huntington envisioned and led are still important activities in the early 21st century. The Southern Pacific is now part of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the C&O became part of CSX Transportation, each major U.S. railroad systems. West Virginia coal is still transported by rail to be loaded onto colliers at Hampton Roads. Nearby, Huntington Ingalls Industries operates the massive shipyard at Newport News. From his base in Washington, Huntington was a lobbyist for the Central Pacific and the Southern Pacific in the 1870s and 1880s. The Big Four had built a powerful political machine, which he had a large role in running. He was generous in providing bribes to politicians and congressmen. Revelation of his misdeeds in 1883 made him one of the most hated railroad men in the country.
Mark Hopkins Jr. (September 1, 1813 – March 29, 1878) was an American railroad executive. He was one of four principal investors that funded Theodore D. Judah's idea of building a railway over the Sierra Nevada from Sacramento, California to Promontory, Utah. They formed the Central Pacific Railroad along with Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington in 1861.
Charles Crocker (September 16, 1822 – August 14, 1888) was an American railroad executive who was one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, which constructed the westernmost portion of the first transcontinental railroad, and took control with partners of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) was a rail company chartered by U.S. Congress in 1862 to build a railroad eastwards from Sacramento, California, to complete the western part of the "First transcontinental railroad" in North America. Incorporated in 1861, CPRR ceased operation in 1885 when it was acquired by Southern Pacific Railroad as a leased line. Following the completion of the Pacific Railroad Surveys in 1855, several national proposals to build a transcontinental railroad failed because of the energy consumed by political disputes over slavery. With the secession of the South in 1861, the modernizers in the Republican Party controlled the US Congress. They passed legislation in 1862 authorizing the central rail route with financing in the form of land grants and government railroad bond, which were all eventually repaid with interest. The government and the railroads both shared in the increased value of the land grants, which the railroads developed. The construction of the railroad also secured for the government the economical "safe and speedy transportation of the mails, troops, munitions of war, and public stores".
North America's first transcontinental railroad (known originally as "The Pacific Railroad" and later as "The Overland Route") was a 1,911-mile (3,075 km) continuous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869 that connected the existing eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa, with the Pacific coast at the Oakland Long Wharf on San Francisco Bay. The rail line was built by three private companies over public lands provided by extensive US land grants. Building was financed by both state and US government subsidy bonds as well as by company-issued mortgage bonds. The Western Pacific Railroad Company built 132 miles (212 km) of track from the road's western terminus at Alameda/Oakland to Sacramento, California. The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California (CPRR) constructed 690 miles (1,110 km) east from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) built 1,085 miles (1,746 km) from the road's eastern terminus at the Missouri River settlements of Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska, westward to Promontory Summit. The railroad opened for through traffic between Sacramento and Omaha on May 10, 1869, when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially tapped the gold "Last Spike" (later often referred to as the "Golden Spike") with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit. In the following six months, the last leg from Sacramento to San Francisco Bay was completed. The resulting coast-to-coast railroad connection revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West. It brought the western states and territories into alignment with the northern Union states and made transporting passengers and goods coast-to-coast considerably quicker, safer and less expensive. The first transcontinental rail passengers arrived at the Pacific Railroad's original western terminus at the Alameda Terminal on September 6, 1869, where they transferred to the steamer Alameda for transport across the Bay to San Francisco. The road's rail terminus was moved two months later to the Oakland Long Wharf, about a mile to the north, when its expansion was completed and opened for passengers on November 8, 1869. Service between San Francisco and Oakland Pier continued to be provided by ferry. The CPRR eventually purchased 53 miles (85 km) of UPRR-built grade from Promontory Summit (MP 828) to Ogden, Utah Territory (MP 881), which became the interchange point between trains of the two roads. The transcontinental line became popularly known as the Overland Route after the name of the principal passenger rail service to Chicago that operated over the length of the line until 1962.