Charles Crocker: Moving mountains to build a railroad
Four men in California were instrumental in the development of the first transcontinental railroad, especially the most difficult segment that crossed the treacherous Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though historians dispute which of the four deserved credit for making the impossible dream a reality, only one of the kings could boast, "I built the Central Pacific" -- Charles Crocker. A large man, well over 250 pounds, with boundless energy, "Charley" was boastful, obstinate, conceited, completely lacking tact or diplomacy, but above all capable. And he could be spiteful. He completed an enormous mansion on Nob Hill in 1875, and he wanted the entire block, having acquired all but one lot. Nicholas Yung, the sole holdout, refused to sell, so Crocker built a 40-foot-tall timbered fence on three sides of Yung's cottage, depriving him of light and view. The public called it the "spite fence."