Leland Stanford: Grocer, governor and benefactor
Alfred Cohen, Central Pacific Railroad's legal counsel once branded Amasa Leland Stanford as a man with "the ambition of an emperor and the spite of a peanut vendor." Stanford, one of the most well known of California's moguls, was a large, ponderous, slow-moving and slow-talking man who achieved extraordinary success as much by luck and ambition as by ability. Born March 9, 1824, in his father’s tavern, the Bull’s Head in Watervliet, New York, Amasa Leland Stanford spent his teen years at Elm Grove Farm with his six brothers and a sister. Stanford’s father, Josiah, was a contractor who built the railroad between Albany and Schenectady. It passed near the Stanford home and Leland spent his holidays watching the rails being laid. On one occasion Whitney, an engineer on the construction of the Mohawk and Hudson River Railway, spent a night at the Stanford home and Leland, then 13, overheard a discussion about the construction of an overland railroad, perhaps an epiphany that left its mark on the teen.