Cornelius Vanderbilt was born in
1794. As a child Cornelius Vanderbilt worked on the Staten Island ferry
in 1810 and loved it. He was a kid that didn’t do very well in school,
and spent most of his time outside. After Staten Island he worked for Tomas
Gibbons, being the captain of his steamboat before forming his own, very
successful, steamboat business. This business included transportation and
cargo boats. He also ran boats up the Hudson River illegally and did it
a rates so low it threatened all the other companies. When the news of
gold in California came transportation was needed. He used his steamboats
some ways but needed a way to transport people over land. That’s when he
began his railroad business.
He bought all kinds of railroads like the New York & Harlem, the Hudson River lines and the New York central. Later he bought many more but was prevented from getting the Erie Lines in 1868 because of three men, James Fisk, Jay Gould and Daniel Drew. These three worked together so Vanderbilt couldn’t get Erie. This was called the “Erie Wars”. But he did, instead of getting Erie, built a railroad strait from New York to Chicago. Vanderbilt got a good reputation for high quality transportation at low cost.
Later in life he gave lots of money to organizations mostly to the building of Vanderbilt University. At his death he was estimated to have about 1 Million dollars in his name. Hi died in 1877.