Crocker, Charles

Crocker, Charles,

1822–88, American railroad builder, b. Troy, N.Y. In 1836 he moved with his family to Marshall co., Ind., where he later set up a small foundry. He joined a party to seek gold in California in 1849. He and a brother opened (1852) a store to sell supplies to miners, and as it prospered they started others, later consolidating them in Sacramento. There Crocker met Mark HopkinsHopkins, Mark,
1813–78, American railroad builder and merchant, b. Henderson, N.Y. A clerk in a village store and later a commission merchant in New York City, he was more than 35 years old when he went to California. There he became (1853) a partner of Collis P.
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, Hopkins's partner, Collis P. HuntingtonHuntington, 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
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, and Leland StanfordStanford, Leland,
1824–93, American railroad builder, politician, and philanthropist, b. Watervliet, N.Y. After practicing law in Wisconsin, he went (1852) to California, where he became a successful merchant.
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, and with them he organized (1861) the Central Pacific RR Company of California. Crocker undertook responsibility for actual construction, completing it in 1869. In 1871, Crocker sold out his interest to his partners, but in the Panic of 1873 he returned as director and vice president.
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Crocker, Charles

(1822–88) merchant, railroad builder, capitalist; born in Troy, N.Y. His family moved to Indiana (1836) where he established an iron forge (1845); he sold this when he went to California where he took up gold mining. He soon realized that the real money lay in selling goods, and the store he opened in Sacramento in 1852 made him rich within a few years; by 1860 he was elected to the state legislature. Joining forces with Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and C. P. Huntington, he formed the Central Pacific Railroad and personally supervised its construction from California across the Sierra Nevada to its junction with the Union Pacific in Utah (1863–69). In 1871 he assumed the presidency of the Southern Pacific Railroad and he merged it with the Central Pacific in 1884. He was also active in banking, real estate, irrigation, and other projects.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.