River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River

By Ray A. March | Go to book overview

2 CROCKER ARRIVES
Tourist Trade Begins

“Right here. This is where we’ll build the hotel,” ordered Charles Crocker, as he jammed his walking cane into the soil that would become the foundation ground for the Hotel Del Monte and the future of the Monterey Peninsula. It was 1879. Crocker was immensely rich and powerful when he arrived in Monterey with his plans to turn it into a grand-scale tourist resort.

Crocker was one of the Big Four, the notorious railroad developers of the Gilded Age and builders of the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Like his three partners—Collis Potter Huntington, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins— Crocker, lured by the prospect of making his fortune, came west to California during the gold rush. Like the other three, he became a successful Sacramento merchant, and as he prospered, he helped found the California Republican party. It was through politics that he eventually met Hopkins and then Stanford and Huntington. Crocker was only thirty-nine years old when he and his partners took control of the Central Pacific Railroad and became its founders in 1861. Stanford was just thirty-seven and governor of California. Huntington was forty, and Hopkins the oldest at forty-eight. By the time Crocker, in particular, looked at the financial prospects of building the Hotel Del Monte and developing the Monterey Peninsula, he and his partners were multimillionaires, accustomed to unharnessed success and profits. It was Crocker who was largely responsible for pushing through the Transcontinental Railroad, and it was Crocker who

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