Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HUNTINGTON, Collis Potter, railroad builder. born in Harwinton, Litchfield County, Connecticut, 22 October, 1821. He was educated in a local school, secured his freedom from his father when fourteen years old by promising to support himself, and, engaging in mercantile. The business, spent ten years in travelling through the south and west, subsequently settling with an elder brother in Oneonta, Otsego County, New York In October, 1848, the brothers made a shipment of goods to California, which Collis followed in March. After spending three months in trading on the isthmus, he began business in a tent in Sacramento, dealing in the various articles that are required in mining life. He afterward opened a large hardware store in the city, became associated in business with Mark Hopkins, and in 1860 matured a scheme for a transcontinental railroad, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mr. Hopkins having united with him in paying the expenses of a survey across the Sierra Nevada mountains. Five men organized the Central Pacific railroad company, of which Mr. Stanford was elected president, Mr. Huntington, vice president, and Mr. Hopkins, treasurer. After congress had agreed to aid the enterprise by an issue of bonds, Mr. Huntington and his associates carried on the construction of the railroad out of their private means until the bonds became available by the completion of a stipulated mileage. In addition to this undertaking, Mr. Huntington planned and perfected the whole California railroad system, which extends over 8,900 miles of steal track, built an Atlantic system, which, by the Southern Pacific railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio railway, forms a continuous line 4,000 miles long from San Francisco to Newport News, and developed an aggregate of 16,900 miles of steam waterlines, including the route to China and Japan. He is president of the Newport News and Mississippi valley company, and vice president of the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific railroad companies. He resides in New York city.
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