The Man Who Could Boost His Net Worth while Others Struggled: The Amazing James J. Hill!

James Jerome Hill was born Sep. 16 1838 and died on May 29 1916 at the age of 77 and married Mary Theresa Meaghan in 1867. She was born in 1846 and she outlived James by 8 years, they had 10 children.

But in between the time of birth and death is what I hope to cover.

While in his childhood years he had an accident with a bow and arrow that left his right eye blinded! He had originally wanted to be a hunter and join military but his injured eyesight took away those options. He had 9 years of formal schooling, then later he learned algebra, geometry, and land surveying . His first job was on a steamboat company much like Cornelius Vanderbilt, and he moved to St. Paul Minnesota in his early 20’s.

Because of earlier times he was able to enter the shipping and coal business and he also bought bankrupt places and fixed them up, then sold them again making a lot of good money! He had a nickname later in life, he was called the Empire Builder.
He started his own business that supplied coal instead of wood for trains and steamboats he even replaced old iron bars with new steel ones on the railroads! He made a business boom!  And between 1883 and 1889 he built railroads through Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. He created the Great Northern Railway from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington (over 1,077 mi. long!(2,700 km)!! They started in the winter 1889 to 1893, it took them 4 years to get from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington building all the way!! He also built the Seattle and Portland Railway as well as the Spokane Railway

Because of his good money skills and skill in other areas he was able to cut down the expense of carrying a ton freight by 13%! Because he did this he not only stayed in business while others struggled and went bankrupt but managed to increase his net worth by about 10 million dollars!! This is incredible! By the time he died Hill was worth 53 million! Now he is more than 2.5 billion!!!

The Empire Builder of the Northwest said:

Most men who have really lived have had in some share, their great  adventure. This railroad is mine.”


Hope you found this post informative!!

Quinn Palmer

RPC student



Join RPC today!


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