solidified Union, or to enter upon some vast project of 
mining, of which gold and silver were the most important. 
Actually railway-building was the most significant of all, 
and railroad stocks were far and away the most valuable 
and important on every exchange in America. Here in 
Philadelphia, New York Central, Rock Island, Wabash, 
Central Pacific, St. Paul, Hannibal & St. Joseph, Union 
Pacific, and Ohio & Mississippi were freely traded in. 
There were men who were getting rich and famous out 
of handling these things; and such towering figures as 
William H. Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Daniel Drew, James 
Fish, and others in the East, and Fair, Crocker, W. R. 
Hearst, and Collis 
 Huntington, in the West, were 
already raising their heads like vast mountains in con- 
nection with these enterprises. Among those who dreamed 
most ardently on this score was Jay Cooke, who with- 
out the wolfish cunning of a Gould or the practical 
knowledge of a Vanderbilt, was ambitious to thread 
the northern reaches of America with a band of steel 
which should be a permanent memorial to his name. 
The project which fascinated him most was one that re- 
lated to the development of the territory then lying al- 
most unexplored between the extreme shores of Lake 
Superior, where Duluth now stands, and that portion 
of the Pacific Ocean into which the Columbia River 
empties—the extreme northern one-third of the United 
States. Here, if a railroad were built, would spring up 
great cities and prosperous towns. There were, it was sus- 
pected, mines of various metals in the region of the Rockies 
which this railroad would traverse, and untold wealth to 
be reaped from the fertile corn and wheat lands. Products 
brought only so far east as Duluth could then be shipped 
to the Atlantic, via the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal, 
at a greatly reduced cost. It was a vision of empire, not 
unlike the Panama Canal project of the same period, and 
one that bade fair apparently to be as useful to humanity. 
It had P-9w.eci the interest and enthusiasm of Cooke.