Harriman, Edward Henry

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Harriman, Edward Henry

Edward Henry Harriman, 1848–1909, American railroad executive, b. Hempstead, N.Y.; father of William Averell Harriman. He became a stockbroker in New York City and soon entered the railroad field, where he attracted attention by able management of the Illinois Central RR, of which he became a director (1883) and vice president (1887). He became executive committee chairman of the Union Pacific in 1898 and repossessed for it the Oregon Short Line. By purchase of the holdings of Collis P. Huntington, he secured control not only of the Southern Pacific RR but also of the Central Pacific RR. His attempt to secure an entrance into Chicago by gaining control of the Burlington & Quincy RR was blocked by James J. Hill in a struggle famous in American financial history. In a later compromise, he joined with Hill and J. P. Morgan in organizing the Northern Securities Company, a holding company formed to prevent railroad competition. But in 1904 the trust was ordered dissolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Harriman used the financial strength of his roads to buy widely and speculatively in railroad stocks elsewhere. He conducted the Harriman Alaskan expedition of 1899, a scientific undertaking; sponsored boys' clubs; and pledged $1 million and 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares) of forest land to New York state for park purposes. The reservation, now the 42,500-acre (17,200-hectare) Harriman State Park, is part of the Palisades Interstate Park.

See biographies by G. Kennan (2 vol., 1922; repr. 1969) and J. E. H. L. Mercer (1985); L. Haeg, Harriman vs Hill: Wall Street's Great Railroad War (2013).

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