Dillon, Sidney

Dillon, Sidney

(1812–92) railroad builder; born in Northampton, N.Y. He left his impoverished family farm at age seven to work as a water boy on railroad construction sites; he progressed to overseer and foreman. In 1840 his bid was accepted to build a small section of the Boston & Albany Railroad. This job launched his railroad career, which included becoming the major contractor for the Union Pacific Railroad; he served as director of the Union Pacific from 1864–92, and as its president, from 1874–84 and 1890–92. He wrote "Historic Moments: Driving the Last Spike of the Union Pacific" published posthumously in Scribner's magazine (August, 1892).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.