Charles Crocker (1822 - 1888) MP

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Birthplace: Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, USA
Death: Died in Monterey, Monterey County, California, USA
Cause of death: Complications of a carriage accident in New York City in 1886
Managed by: Mona Magno-Veluz (C)
Last Updated:

About Charles Crocker

Charles Crocker was a pioneering American industrialist. He had interests in railroads and banking.

Click here for Charles Crocker's Wikipedia page.

Click here for the Wikipedia description of the Central Pacific Railroad.

Charles Crocker (16 September 1822 – 14 August 1888) was an American railroad executive. He was the constuction supervisor (and one of the Big Four) for the Central Pacific Railroad.

Crocker was born in Troy, New York to a modest family, and moved to an Indiana farm at age 14. He soon became independent, working on several farms, a sawmill, and at an iron forge. In 1845 he founded a small, independent iron forge of his own.

In 1950, Crocker moved to the gold country and tried to strike it rich by prospecting for gold. Failing as a gold miner, he opened a dry goods store in Eldorado County, selling to the miners. Success there allowed him to open two more stores, one of which was in Sacramento. Later that same year, he traveled to Indiana to marry his only wife.

Living in Sacramento in 1956, Crocker joined the new Republican Party at a time when Democrats ran politics in the State Capitol. He unexpectedly found himself elected an alderman. A fellow member of the board was a merchant, Mark Hopkins, who, with a partner, Collis Huntington, did a thriving business in shovels, axes and kegs of nails. Leland Stanford of Stanford Brothers had a thriving wholesale grocery business. In the election of 1857, Stanford ran for state treasurer, while Crocker ran on the same ticket for the Assembly. Both lost. The Four supported John C. Fremont for president, with the campaign slogan, "Freedom, Fremont, and the Railroad."

Central Pacific Railroad

In 1861, after hearing a very intriguing presentation by Theodore Judah, he was one of the four principal investors along with Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford (also known as the Big Four) who formed the Central Pacific Railroad, which became the western portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in North America. His position with the company was that of construction supervisor and president of Charles Crocker & Co., a CP subsidiary founded expressly for the purpose of building the railroad.

Charles Crocker bought train plows to plow the tracks. This didn't work because the plows would frequently derail due to ice on the tracks. This led Crocker to build over 40 miles of snow sheds to cover the tracks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to help stop the tracks from getting covered with snow in the winter. This project cost over $2 million.[1]

Deming, New Mexico is named after Mary Ann Deming Crocker, wife of Charles Crocker. A golden spike was driven here in 1881 to commemorate the meeting of the Southern Pacific with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroads, completing the construction of the second transcontinental railroad in the United States.

Banking

Crocker was briefly the controlling shareholder of Wells Fargo in 1869 serving as President but sold down and was replaced by John J. Valentine. Charles Crocker also acquired controlling interest in Woolworth National Bank for his son William, which became Crocker-Anglo Bank. In 1963, Crocker-Anglo Bank later merged with Los Angeles' Citizens National Bank, to become Crocker-Citizens Bank and later, Crocker Bank. The San Francisco, California based bank no longer exists. It was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank in 1986.

Personal life

Charles Crocker was the younger brother of Edwin B. Crocker. Charles asked his older brother to work as legal counsel for Central Pacific Railroad in 1864.

In 1886 he was seriously injured in a New York City carriage accident. He never fully recovered, and died two years later. Crocker is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. Crocker's estate has been valued at between $20 million and $40 million.

Charles Crocker (16 September 1822 – 14 August 1888) was an American railroad executive.

Early years

Crocker was born in Troy, New York, to a modest family and moved to an Indiana farm at age 14. He soon became independent, working on several farms, a sawmill, and at an iron forge. In 1845 he founded a small, independent iron forge of his own. He used this money to later invest in the railroad business.

Running a railroad

In 1861, after hearing a very intriguing presentation by Theodore Judah, he was one of the four principal investors along with Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford (also known as the big four) who formed the Central Pacific Railroad, which became the western portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in North America. His position with the company was that of construction supervisor and president of Charles Crocker & Co., a CP subsidiary founded expressly for the purpose of building the railroad. Charles Crocker also bought train plows to plow the tracks. This, however, did not work because they would frequently derail due to ice on the tracks. This led him to build over 40 miles of snow sheds to cover the tracks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to help stop the tracks from getting covered with snow in the winter. This project cost over $2 million.

While the Central Pacific was still under construction, Crocker and his associates acquired control of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1868.

Death

In 1886, Crocker was seriously injured in a New York City carriage accident. He never fully recovered, and died two years later at the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, that he built and completed in 1880. He was buried in a mausoleum located on "Millionaire's Row" at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. The massive granite structure was designed by the New York architect A. Page Brown, who later designed the San Francisco Ferry Building.[6][7] Crocker's estate has been valued at between $300 million and $400 million at the time of his death in 1888.

Deming, New Mexico, is named after Mary Ann Deming Crocker, wife of Charles Crocker. A golden spike was driven here in 1881 to commemorate the meeting of the Southern Pacific with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroads, completing the construction of the second transcontinental railroad in the United States.

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Charles Crocker's Timeline

1822
September 16, 1822
Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, USA
1854
December 26, 1854
Age 32
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, United States
1856
February 10, 1856
Age 33
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California
1859
October 25, 1859
Age 37
1861
January 13, 1861
Age 38
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, United States
1888
August 14, 1888
Age 65
Monterey, Monterey County, California, USA
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Oakland, Alameda County, California