Trained in military and civil engineering, Grenville M. Dodge has been called America's greatest railroad builder. He began his career in the early 1850s, conducting surveys for railroad routes through Illinois and Iowa, and on the eve of the Civil War he was prominent among those promoting the construction of a transcontinental railroad from Iowa's western border to the Pacific coast. The outbreak of war in 1861, however, put a halt to that effort, and he was soon serving as an officer in the Union army. With peace, Dodge became chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad. In that capacity, he took a central role in laying the tracks that linked up with the Central Pacific Railroad in May 1869 to form the transcontinental railroad that he had first envisioned in late 1850s. This was Dodge's crowning achievement, but his career was far from over. He did not retire until 1903, after completing a line for a railroad in Cuba.
Mathew Brady Studio (active 1844-1883)
Modern albumen silver print enlargement from wet-plate collodion negative, circa 1864
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution