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Big Four (Central Pacific Railroad)

"The Big Four" was the name popularly given to the famous and influential businessmen, philanthropists and railroad tycoons who built 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 Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean during the middle and late 1860s.[1] Composed of Leland Stanford, (1824–1893), Collis Potter Huntington, (1821–1900), Mark Hopkins, (1813–1878), and Charles Crocker, (1822–1888), the four themselves however, personally preferred to be known as "The Associates."[2]


  • Membership 1
  • In popular culture 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Collectively, the four philanthropically also established the Sacramento Library Association for the state capital in Sacramento, California in 1857, which later established the present Sacramento Public Library.[3]

David Hewes, an enterprising businessman, was called the "maker of San Francisco" for his work in clearing land for development. He was invited to be a part of the "Big Four" but declined due to the financial risks. Over his lifetime he gained and lost several fortunes.[4]

In popular culture

Author, newspaper reporter and columnist Ambrose Bierce included characters based on the "Big Four" in his work "Black Beetles in Amber" as Sootymug (Hopkins), Happy Hunty (Huntington), Cowboy Charley (Crocker) and Leland, The Kid (Stanford).[5]


  1. ^ Yenne, Bill (1985). The History of the Southern Pacific. Bison Books. pp. 10–11.  
  2. ^ Galloway, John Debo, C.E. "The First Transcontinental Railroad" New York: Simmons-Boardman Co. (1950) Ch. 4
  3. ^ "ABOUT US". Sacramento PublicLibrary. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association: David Hewes and family
  5. ^  

External links

  • The Story of the Central Pacific. The Rise of the Big Four: Huntington, Stanford, Crocker, and Hopkins. By WF Bailey The PACIFIC MONTHLY January, 1908.
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