Grenville Dodge Builds Railroads

Time Frame: 1856

Iowan Grenville Dodge helped railroads develop across the United States in the mid-1800s. But people began to question the power railroad companies and their owners had over politicians.
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“From Here to There,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 6, Iowa Public Television, 1978.

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During the Civil War, as a Brigadier General, he provided valuable service in bridge and railroad construction to the Union Army. Today he is the chief engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad. A man to be admired. But Dodge and his railroad are losing popularity. The railroads have a great deal of power; power to set freight and passenger rates as high as they please. They also have a lot of influence in government, so that often they can get the kind of laws that they want; laws that eventually mean higher profits. People are beginning to question these powers saying that the railroads have a responsibility to provide the best service for a fair price. The day is not far off when the people will demand laws to restrict the power of the railroad.


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