The Big Four were the men known in building the Central Pacific Railroad, the western portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States. The four men were Leland Stanford who was the President, Collis P. Huntington who was the Vice President, Mark Hopkins who was the Treasurer, and Charles Crocker who was the Construction Supervisor.
Leland Stanford was born in the year of 1824 in Watervliet, New York, and was raised on family farms. Stanford began law school around the year 1848. Stanford got married in 1850 and had one son. Stanford moved to California during the Gold Rush after loosing the law library his father got for him. He helped in organizing the Sacramento Library Association, which later became the Sacramento Public Library. Stanford was one of the four Sacramento, California businessmen known as “The Big Four”. They were all the investors of the Central Pacific Railroad that was incorporated on June 28, 1861. He was part of forming the Pacific Union Express Company. He was head of the railroad company which built the western part of the First Transcontinental Railroad over Sierra Nevada Mountains. Stanford and his men got control of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1868. He was also president of the Southern Pacific Company from 1885 to 1890. Stanford was elected chairman of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s executive committee in 1890. Stanford oversaw a corporation which imported thousands of Chinese laborers in the construction of the railroad. He cut the state’s debt in half and advocated for the conservation of forests. Stanford served as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on public buildings and grounds in the United States Senate. He wrote many senate bills. Leland Stanford died of heart failure at his home in Palo Alto, California on June 21, 1893. He is buried in the Stanford family mausoleum on the Stanford campus.
Collis Potter Huntington was also on of the “Big Four” men of the western railroading. He was born in...
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