By any account, Edward Henry Harriman was a fascinating individual and a titan of the railroad industry. What Rockefeller was to oil, Harriman was to railroads.
By his death Harriman controlled the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Saint Joseph and Grand Island, the Illinois Central, the Central of Georgia, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Wells Fargo Express Company. Even by today's standards, he was a fabulously wealthy and powerful individual.
In this long out of print biography of Harriman, author Kenan (cousin to the younger George Kennan) reveals the intricate power-plays that resulted in Harriman's control of properties and vast interests.
He was interested in science and even learned ju-jitsu after a trip to Japan. Naturalist John Muir said of Harriman that he was worthy of admiration in almost every way.