The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden

By Jack Harpster

William Butler Ogden was once a pioneer railroad wealthy person, one of many earliest founders and builders of the town of Chicago, and a major effect on U.S. westward enlargement. His occupation as a businessman stretched from the streets of Chicago to the wilds of the Wisconsin lumber forests, from the iron mines of Pennsylvania to the monetary capitals in long island and past. Jack Harpster’s The Railroad wealthy person Who outfitted Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden is the 1st biography of 1 of the main extraordinary figures in nineteenth-century America.

Harpster strains the lifetime of Ogden from his early reports as a boy and younger businessman in upstate big apple to his migration to Chicago, the place he invested in land, canal development, and steamboat businesses. He turned Chicago’s first mayor, outfitted the city’s first railway method, and suffered throughout the nice Chicago fireplace. He had assorted enterprise pursuits that incorporated actual property, land improvement, urban making plans, city transportation, production, beer brewing, mining, and banking, to call quite a few. Harpster, besides the fact that, doesn't easily specialise in the company magnate; he delves into the guts and soul of the fellow himself—Ogden was once a devoted family members guy, a famous raconteur, a revered philanthropist, and a chum to a few of the era’s wealthy and powerful.

The Railroad magnate Who equipped Chicago is a meticulously researched and nuanced biography set opposed to the backdrop of the old and societal topics of the 19th century. it's a sweeping tale approximately one man’s effect at the beginning of trade in the USA. Ogden’s inner most lifestyles proves to be as diverse and fascinating as his public personality, and Harpster weaves the 2 jointly right into a colourful tapestry of a existence good and usefully lived.

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Then his tone became severe, and he informed his visitors the true cause he had requested them to affix him. He desired to lay out his imaginative and prescient for a grand new railroad. It was once a imaginative and prescient he had nurtured for nearly a quarter-century, the imaginative and prescient that had carried him ahead throughout the darkish days while few males desired to align themselves together with his Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. without doubt he defined in a few aspect, frequently hoping on his commute diary, the areas he had visited over the last couple of years and the people he had shared desires and ideas with on his “voyage of discovery. ” He most likely spoke concerning the iron mines in Michigan and the massive herds of farm animals in Nebraska Territory and concerning the waving fields of wheat and the candy odor of clover. Ogden the orator used to be at his top in settings like this. the center piece of his tale used to be a wide, hand-inked parchment map he had commissioned, which he held on the wall at the back of him. four at the a ways correct it confirmed Lake Michigan, formed like an extended, fats sausage, with Chicago prominently famous on its southwestern shore. From Chicago, delicately drawn hatched strains radiated north and west into distant areas the place a few of his visitors had by no means ventured. alongside the northern line have been rigorously classified the cities of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and eco-friendly Bay. Upon getting into Michigan’s top Peninsula, the road handed Escanaba after which grew to become west, all of the solution to Duluth on the southwestern tip of Lake better. The western line out of Chicago was once both bold, touching Moline, Iowa urban, Des Moines, and Omaha, with a couple of smaller cities famous alongside the best way. From every one of those major trunk traces, smaller ones radiated off in lots of instructions into the geographical region, passing via dozens of small cities and villages that almost all of them had by no means heard of. whilst Ogden accomplished sharing his imaginative and prescient, the folk within the room should have been thoughtfully silent whereas they attempted to totally seize the consequences of what they'd simply obvious. Ogden’s plan, offered so in actual fact at the huge parchment, used to be actually visionary: a wholly built-in rail method during the complete Midwest and nice Plains. Ogden defined what every body within the room discovered, that at last a national rail process will be outfitted. His proposed approach may serve the center of the nation—the heartland—and attach Chicago to the westward rail community, simply as Chicago used to be at present attached to the japanese rail community. in truth, Chicago may be the nexus of a countrywide rail process that lined the complete nation from coast to coast. Ogden defined that his Midwest rail hyperlink will be known as the Chicago and North Western 146 the easiest of every little thing Railway procedure. considerably, in an 1848 file he had issued to Galena and Chicago Union Railroad traders, he had pointed out Chicago as “the nice North-Western railroad throughfare all the time to come,” indicating how lengthy he had nurtured this railroad imaginative and prescient. five through the 1850s and 1860s, William Ogden used to be president and/or director of a dizzying array of railroads, greater than dozen in all.

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