In 1861 the two helped establish the new Central Pacific Railroad, authorized to lay rails across the state of California. With Abraham Lincoln winning the presidential nomination of 1860
the Pacific Railroad Act, in conjunction with Congress, was born and the new CP would aid in the completion of the new Transcontinental Railroad. The Union Pacific was established directly as a result of the act and together they worked to complete the new line. It was Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford,
Hopkins, Theodore Judah, and Charles Crocker who agreed to
mutually help finance the CP
although Judah was bought out by what would become the "Big Four"
(Crocker, Stanford, Hopkins, and Huntington). For Hopkins' part he was
brought in by Huntington to be treasurer, who held very high esteem in
him due to his frugal nature and meticulous accounting skills.
With the building of the CP also subsidized through the federal government (being given land grants as well as loans) it was Huntington who would become the principal leader of the group working with Congress to see that the railroad got whatever it needed. While building the CP turned out to take much longer and cost much more than originally envisioned it was completed on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah and linking with the Union Pacific system. Four years prior to this milestone the Southern Pacific had been established to connect San Francisco and San Diego, California. In September 1868, Collis P. Huntington and the rest of the "Big Four" bought out the original founders of the SP and would combine the operations of the Central Pacific by 1870.
By the late 1870s the railroad was sprawling out across Southern California and served the state's largest markets including its line through the Southwest, which reached El Paso, Texas by the early 1880s. Throughout the rest of the 19th century the Espee continued to spread throughout the West and Southwest, reaching northern Oregon and serving most of that state's largest cities by the late 1880s. By the 20th century the railroad continued to expand and was by this time well entrenched into the Southeastern markets of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (it also leased the CP in the 1920s, eventually merging the railroad into its system with its main line becoming the Overland Route).
By mid-century it owned a stunning 15,000 miles of
track, stretching from the warm and sunny beaches of Southern California
and Gulf of Mexico to the deserts of Arizona and mountains of the
Mark Hopkins remained the Southern Pacific/Central Pacific
treasurer until his death in March, 1878 due to health issues while in
Arizona. He became so highly respected by the other three men that he
was also known as "Uncle Mark" and was always given final say on
impending projects before they happened. Hopkins also remained a close
friend of the men, particularly Huntington who he remained a partner
with in their ventures outside of railroading until he passed away
(Huntington always considered him the most honest man he ever knew).
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