This is the seventeenth in my series of posts about the five businessmen the History Channel profiled in a terribly inaccurate and un-historical TV miniseries titled The Men Who Built America. I’m writing these posts in response to several comments and e-mails from TV viewers who have expressed interest in a more accurate version of the story. (Click here to see all Al’s columns on the program and its subjects.)
Post #17: Railroad Economics and Rockefeller Oil
Railroads were an industry where great fortunes were made and lost in post-Civil War America. When Andrew Carnegie resigned his position with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1865 he was leaving the largest corporation in the world, a company with 30,000 employees and a capitalization of sixty-one million dollars. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central was not far behind. By the early 1870’s eighty percent of the market capitalization of all American corporations was in railroad companies.