Mark Hopkins - Old City Cemetery - Sacramento, CA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member thebeav69
N 38° 33.703 W 121° 30.172
10S E 630438 N 4269204
Quick Description: This tomb of Mark Hopkins resides in Old City Cemetery and is noted as one of the 'Big Four' in forming the Central Pacific Railroad in 1861.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 2/19/2015 10:04:26 AM
Waymark Code: WMNDAC
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Manville Possum Hunters
Views: 4

Long Description:
Wrap Text around ImageLocated in the heart of Old City Cemetery is a large mausoleum containing the grave of Mark Hopkins, known as one of the 'Big Four' principle investors who formed the Central Pacific Railroad along with Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington in 1861. There are a number of website that highlight Mark Hopkins' life. One in particular, has this to say:

Mark Hopkins, Part Of The Central Pacific's "Big Four"

Before Mark Hopkins became successful in the venture with Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford to build the Central Pacific Railroad he was only a modest business owner back east. Perhaps the least known and quietest of the group known as the "Big Four", Hopkins was nonetheless their cornerstone with his impeccable accounting skills and laid back, honest nature. This, along with the fact that Hopkins was the oldest of the group, he was highly respected by them all and no plan was executed before he saw it first. Even after hitting it big with the construction of the CP, Hopkins remained tight with his money and lived an unassuming lifestyle. He passed away in the late 1870s due to health complications.

Hopkins, whose full name was Mark Hopkins, Jr., was born on September 1, 1813 in Henderson, New York. His family moved to St. Claire, Michigan when he was just 10 in 1824 and he only attended school until the age of 15 when he father passed away in 1828. From this point forward Hopkins spent much of his younger years working in business, first as a merchant at the age of 16 and soon after starting his own company, Hopkins & Hughes, upon moving back to New York. After this venture he eventually became manager of the firm James Rowland & Company. While modestly successful with these early careers and also trying a brief but unsuccessful stint in law in 1837, Hopkins, like the rest of the "Big Four" group, decided to head west with the California Gold Rush that hit the country in 1849.

He and 25 other men formed the firm New England Trading & Mining Company in late 1848 as a means to provide goods for miners in California. Hopkins traveled aboard the shipment of goods himself, which had to sail around Cape Horn of South America (as these were days before the Panama Canal), arriving in San Francisco in August, 1849. In 1850 he set up a grocery business with friend E. H. Miller, Jr that proved to be modestly successful. However, it was in 1855 that Hopkins started down the path towards a railroad career when he partnered with Collis P. Huntington to open an iron and hardware business.

With Abraham Lincoln winning the presidential nomination of 1860 the Central Pacific Railroad was established in 1862 by Congress through the Pacific Railroad Act. The other railroad to be born through this act was the Union Pacific and together they would come to build the transcontinental railroad. It was Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Hopkins, Theodore Judah, and Charles Crocker who agreed to mutually help finance the CP although Judah was bought out by what would become the "Big Four" (Crocker, Stanford, Hopkins, and Huntington). For Hopkins' part he was brought in by Huntington to be treasurer, who held very high esteem in him due to his frugal nature and meticulous accounting skills.

With the building of the CP also subsidized through the federal government (being given land grants as well as loans) it was Huntington who would become the principal leader of the group working with Congress to see that the railroad got whatever it needed. While building the CP turned out to take much longer and cost much more than originally envisioned it was completed on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah and linking with the Union Pacific system. Four years prior to this milestone the Southern Pacific had been established to connect San Francisco and San Diego, California. In September 1868, Collis P. Huntington and the rest of the "Big Four" bought out the original founders of the SP and would combine the operations of the Central Pacific by 1870.

By the late 1870s the railroad was sprawling out across Southern California and served the state's largest markets including its line through the Southwest, which reached El Paso, Texas by the early 1880s. Throughout the rest of the 19th century the Espee continued to spread throughout the West and Southwest, reaching northern Oregon and serving most of that state's largest cities by the late 1880s. By the 20th century the railroad continued to expand and was by this time well entrenched into the Southeastern markets of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (it also leased the CP in the 1920s, eventually merging the railroad into its system with its main line becoming the Overland Route).

By mid-century it owned a stunning 15,000 miles of track, stretching from the warm and sunny beaches of Southern California and Gulf of Mexico to the deserts of Arizona and mountains of the Sierra Range. Mark Hopkins remained the Southern Pacific/Central Pacific treasurer until his death in March, 1878 due to health issues while in Arizona. He became so highly respected by the other three men that he was also known as "Uncle Mark" and was always given final say on impending projects before they happened. Hopkins also remained a close friend of the men, particularly Huntington who he remained a partner with in their ventures outside of railroading until he passed away (Huntington always considered him the most honest man he ever knew).

Another website,, has another good bio on Hopkins' (although not quite as venerated and reads:

Mark Hopkins was a New York City bookkeeper when he caught word of gold. He immediately got himself to Sacramento and headed north to prospect. Rumors of misfortune in the mountains ahead caused him to return to the city. Hopkins scraped together a living selling supplies in the countryside. Soon, he owned a grocery store. In 1856 he partnered with K Street neighbor Collis Huntington.

Attentive Bookkeeper
The two made natural allies. Hopkins' quiet demeanor contrasted nicely with Huntington's bombast. Hopkins was the paper man. He handled the books while Huntington took care of wheeling and dealing, a relationship they would later replicate with the railroad venture. His attention to business matters was absolute. "I never thought anything finished until Hopkins had seen it," Huntington said. "He never had anything to do with trade and never would. He had general supervision of the books and the papers, contracts, etc. When he said they were right, I never cared to look at them." Earnestness and frugality combined with a slight gray beard to earn Hopkins the nickname "Uncle Mark." But the unthreatening exterior disguised a resolute mind. Partner Charles Crocker would say, "When Hopkins wanted to be, he was the stubbornest man alive."

Early California Republicans
Politics cemented Hopkins' relationship to Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Crocker's brother Edwin. Although he began as a Know-Nothing, Hopkins shifted to California's burgeoning Republican Party, which chartered itself at the Huntington & Hopkins hardware store in March 1856. They had a difficult go at first; local Democrats invaded meetings, or accosted them on the street with shouts of "Black Republican!" All five future railroaders were in fact abolitionists, as were many of their Republican peers, but they knew a controversial platform would not get the party on its feet. So they picked something more palatable. "We are in favor," read the California Daily Times, the newspaper printed at 54 K Street, "of Fremont and the Pacific Railroad."

In on the Ground Floor
When railroad advocate Theodore Judah caught Huntington's ear in 1860, he insisted that Congress would soon pass a railroad bill -- and it would do so under the aegis of the incoming president, Abraham Lincoln. Huntington used this logic to sell the venture to his business partner: if their small group of associates got in on the ground floor of a railroad proposal, kindred spirits in Washington might well reward them construction rights when the measure passed. All they had to do was invest in the energetic engineer. Judah would survey his route and take the findings to Capitol Hill; Huntington and Hopkins would stand to reap the benefits and control the Central Pacific. Hopkins was cautious, but convinced. He put $1,500 into the new company and assumed a place on its board. In June 1861, when the directors gathered to select their officers, the bookkeeper was, of course, named treasurer.

Burned Record Books
Over the years of construction, Hopkins ran the Central Pacific finances much as he had the store, except now the market was bigger -- and the stakes higher. He still preferred to recede into the background, letting his more voluble partners deal with government, public, press, and workers. He in turn kept a sharp eye on the books, considering the financial ramifications of every move, clearing a route for the complex finances of the massive undertaking. Hopkins could be strict with his partners, refusing to endorse schemes that expanded Central Pacific holdings but distracted focus from the main line. He discouraged Huntington's speculative grabs at Utah's Wasatch coalfields. Similarly, he disapproved of E. B. Crocker's scheme to buy the Western Pacific Line linking Sacramento and San Francisco. Crocker hoped to initiate a railroad empire throughout California, but Hopkins and his abacus brain could only justify financing the nuts and bolts of the monumental construction immediately at hand. The impasse caused a rift among the Associates for weeks. But stalwart Hopkins could be persuaded by the enthusiasm of his partners; the company absorbed the Western Pacific in June 1867. Hopkins advocated deals, legal or otherwise, that made fiscal sense, and reacted in horror when the Associates made promises beyond the pale of reason. Often he scrambled to clean up the mess. In 1872, when the biggest mess of them all -- Credit Mobilier-- called Central Pacific deal-making into question, Hopkins burned the record books.

A Modest Man
Though the Central Pacific made him very rich, Hopkins continued to live frugally. He rented a small cottage in San Francisco until his wife forced him to build a larger home, which he did not live to see completed. In 1878, true to his temperate nature and the enterprise that defined him, he died in his sleep aboard a railroad car.

The Sacramento Historical Society also contains a number of downloadable PDFs from their website. One in particular highlights the 'Big Four' and gives a more honest and no-nonsense view of the businessmens' acumen and can be read here.

Please read above text regarding the background and history of Mark Hopkins.

Date of birth: 9/1/1813

Date of death: 3/29/1878

Area of notoriety: Historical Figure

Marker Type: Tomb (above ground)

Setting: Outdoor

Visiting Hours/Restrictions: Summer: 7am-7pm / Winter: 8am-5pm

Fee required?: No

Web site: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
To post a visit log for waymarks in this category, you must have personally visited the waymark location. When logging your visit, please provide a note describing your visit experience, along with any additional information about the waymark or the surrounding area that you think others may find interesting.

We especially encourage you to include any pictures that you took during your visit to the waymark. However, only respectful photographs are allowed. Logs which include photographs representing any form of disrespectful behavior (including those showing personal items placed on or near the grave location) will be subject to deletion.
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Grave of a Famous Person
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log  
sbcamper visited Mark Hopkins - Old City Cemetery - Sacramento, CA 3/1/2015 sbcamper visited it