Archives and History – Tuesday Lecture Collis P. Huntington on April 1

On April 1, 2014, James E. Casto will present “The Life and Times of Collis P. Huntington” at the Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Cultural Center in Charleston. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Railroad mogul Huntington (1821-1900) was one of the “robber barons” of his era. Raised in poverty, he left school at age 14 and became a Yankee peddler, traveling through the South to sell watches and other merchandise. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, Huntington went west, where he made a fortune, not from mining gold but from selling supplies to the miners. Huntington and his partners-Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Charles Crocker, known to railroad historians as the ”Big Four”-built the Central Pacific, the western half of the Transcontinental Railroad, and later the Southern Pacific. In 1869, Huntington purchased the nearly bankrupt Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and pushed its tracks over the mountains from Richmond to the Ohio River, where he established the city of Huntington. He also founded the city of Newport News, Virginia, and the Newport News Shipyard.

James E. Casto was a reporter, editor and columnist at the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington for more than 40 years before he retired in 2004. Costumed as Collis P. Huntington, he frequently appears at civic clubs, schools and other groups in a first-person program that offers a glimpse of the rail tycoon’s life. Casto attended Bethany College and is a graduate of Marshall University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in English. He is the author of a number of books on regional history. In 2006, the Cabell County Public Library named its James E. Casto Local History Room in his honor.

On April 1, the library will close at 5:00 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the lecture, but advance registration is not required. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail at [email protected] or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

If you have been unable to attend some of our recent Tuesday evening lecture programs, please check the Archives and History’s YouTube page: (


The West Virginia Archives and History Library is located in the Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston. If traveling on the Interstate, take Exit 99 (the Greenbrier Street, State Capitol exit) on I-77/64, one mile east of the I-64 and 77 junction. The Culture Center is located along Greenbrier Street, just beyond the intersection of Greenbrier and Washington streets.


Also see: Vintage Southern West Virginia Postcards – (1900’s – 1970’s)