James J. Hill and the day the railroads roiled Wall Street
James J. Hill was responsible, perhaps more than any other one person, for the rise of Minnesota industry and agriculture, and its lasting international impact. His robust railroad empire drew the state’s arterial maps, and even influenced the layout of the city of St. Paul. He was a brilliant businessman and dazzling intellectual, a self-taught scholar with a grade-school education whose work gave rise for a better way of life for thousands of people in the early years of Minnesota statehood. Yet he has been largely forgotten.
“I think in Minnesota we tend to be ambivalent about our business leaders,” says Larry Haeg, author of “Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street's Great Railroad War” (University of Minnesota Press), the first new book in 37 years about the man whose Great Northern Railroad linked Minnesota and Wisconsin to the West and helped facilitate the country’s westward expansion.