E. H. Harriman
Edward Henry Harriman

(1848-02-20)February 20, 1848
DiedSeptember 9, 1909(1909-09-09) (aged 61)
Resting placeSt. John's Church Cemetery, Arden, New York
  • Financier
  • Railroad tycoon
Known forHarriman Alaska expedition
SpouseMary Williamson Averell (m. 1879)
ChildrenMary Harriman Rumsey
Henry Neilson Harriman
Cornelia Harriman Gerry[1]
Carol A. Harriman
William Averell Harriman
Edward Roland Noel Harriman
RelativesAnne Harriman Vanderbilt (cousin)
Oliver Harriman Jr. (cousin)
J. Borden Harriman (cousin)
Herbert M. Harriman (cousin)

Edward Henry Harriman (February 20, 1848 – September 9, 1909) was an American financier and railroad executive.[2][3][4]

Early life

Harriman was born on February 20, 1848, in Hempstead, New York, the son of Orlando Harriman Sr., an Episcopal clergyman, and Cornelia Neilson.[3] He had a brother, Orlando Harriman Jr.[5] His great-grandfather, William Harriman, had emigrated from England in 1795 and became a successful businessman and trader.

As a young boy, Harriman spent a summer working at the Greenwood Iron Furnace in the area owned by the Robert Parker Parrott family that would become Harriman State Park. He quit school at age 14 to take a job as an errand boy on Wall Street in New York City. His uncle Oliver Harriman had earlier established a career there. By age 22, he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange.


Harriman's father-in-law was president of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad Company, which aroused Harriman's interest in upstate New York transportation. In 1881, at age 33, Harriman acquired the small, broken-down Lake Ontario Southern Railroad. He renamed it the Sodus Bay & Southern, reorganized it, and sold it to the Pennsylvania Railroad at a considerable profit. This was the start of his career as a rebuilder of bankrupt railroads.

A 1907 cartoon depicting Harriman and his railroads as subject to federal law and the Interstate Commerce Commission

Harriman was nearly 50 years old when in 1897 he became a director of the Union Pacific Railroad. By May 1898, he was chairman of the executive committee, and from that time until his death, his word was the law on the Union Pacific system.[citation needed] In 1903, he assumed the office of president of the company. [citation needed] From 1901 to 1909, Harriman was also the president of the Southern Pacific Railroad.[citation needed] The vision of a unified UP/SP railroad was planted with Harriman. (The UP and SP were reunited on September 11, 1996, a month after the Surface Transportation Board approved their merger.)[citation needed]

A train crosses a bridge.
In 1910, the first passenger train crossed the Dumbarton Rail Bridge, a project championed by Harriman.

At the time of his death Harriman controlled the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Saint Joseph and Grand Island, the Illinois Central, the Central of Georgia, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Wells Fargo Express Company. [citation needed] Estimates of his estate ranged from $150 million to $200 million. That fortune was left entirely to his wife.[citation needed]

Harriman Alaska expedition

Main article: Harriman Alaska expedition

In 1899, Harriman sponsored and accompanied a scientific expedition to catalog the flora and fauna of the Alaska coastline. Many prominent scientists and naturalists went on the expedition, aboard the luxuriously refitted 250-foot (76 m) steamer SS George W. Elder.[6][7]

Interest in ju-jitsu

Harriman became interested in ju-jitsu after his two-month visit to Japan in 1905.[8] When he returned to America, he brought with him a troupe of six Japanese ju-jitsu wrestlers, including the prominent judokas Tsunejiro Tomita and Mitsuyo Maeda.[9] Among many performances, the troupe gave an exhibition that drew some 600 spectators in the Columbia University gymnasium on February 7, 1905.[10]

Personal life

Harriman posing for a photograph alongside his wife, Mary Williamson Averell.

In 1879, Harriman married Mary Williamson Averell, daughter of William J. Averell, a banker in Ogdensburg, New York.[11] Together they had six children:

Harriman died on September 9, 1909, at his home, Arden, at 1:30 p.m. at age 61.[2][3] Naturalist John Muir, who had joined him on the 1899 Alaska expedition, wrote in his eulogy of Harriman, "In almost every way, he was a man to admire."

Harriman estate

In 1885, Harriman acquired "Arden", the 7,863-acre (31.82 km2) Parrott family estate in the Ramapo Highlands near Tuxedo, New York, for $52,500. The property had been a source of iron ore for the Parrott Brothers Iron Works. Over the next several years he purchased almost 40 nearby parcels of land, adding 20,000 acres (81 km2), and connected all of them with 40 miles (64 km) of bridle paths. His 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) residence, Arden House, was completed just seven months before he died.

In the early 1900s, his sons W. Averell Harriman and E. Roland Harriman hired landscape architect Arthur P. Kroll to landscape many acres. In 1910, his widow donated 10,000 acres (40 km2) to the state of New York for Harriman State Park. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.


Bust of Edward H. Harriman by Auguste Rodin



Places built using funds donated from his sponsorship or estate

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mrs. Robert L. Gerry Dies at 82. Last Daughter of E.H. Harriman". The New York Times. May 30, 1966. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Mrs. Cornelia Harriman Gerry, widow of Robert L. Gerry, financier and sportsman, died yesterday, at her home at 79 East 79th Street. She was 82 years old. ...
  2. ^ a b "Harriman Dead. News Delayed. Financier's End Came at 1:30 o'clock, with His Family About His Bedside. The Official Announcement Had Set the Hour of Death Some Two Hours Later. Cancer or Tuberculosis of the Bowels Each Said to be the Cause. Universal Tributes to His Genius and Indomitable Courage. The Financial World Not Taken Unaware" (PDF). The New York Times. September 9, 1909. Retrieved February 4, 2015. Edward H. Harriman died at Arden House this afternoon at 1:30 o'clock. The news of his death was withheld for two hours when the official announcement was made that the financier had passed away at 3:35 o'clock.
  3. ^ a b c "Edward H. Harriman". PBS. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Edward Henry Harriman was born in New Jersey [sic] in 1848. His father was an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church, his mother a well-connected socialite from New Jersey. ...
  4. ^ Kennan, George (1922). E. H. Harriman: A Biography in Two Volumes. Vol. 1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge. pp. 62, 95, 132. ISBN 9780795020841.
  5. ^ "Orlando Harriman Dead. Brother of E.H. Harriman and Big Realty Operator" (PDF). The New York Times. December 30, 1911. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Orlando Harriman, brother or the late EH Harriman, died early yesterday in Dr. John Walker's Sanitarium, 33 East Thirty-third Street, from a complication of ...
  6. ^ "E.H. Harriman: Harriman Expedition Retraced". PBS.
  7. ^ Ken Chowder, "North to Alaska" Smithsonian (June 2003) 34#3 pp 92101.
  8. ^ "HARRIMAN TO VISIT JAPAN.; He Will Take His Family and Be Away Several Months" (PDF). The New York Times. June 28, 1905. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  9. ^ "JU-JITSU AS IN JAPAN.; E.H. Harriman's Troupe of Six Clever Wrestlers and Swordsmen" (PDF). The New York Times. February 4, 1906. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  10. ^ "JUDO FOR SELF-DEFENCE". New-York Daily Tribune. Washington, DC. Library of Congress. February 8, 1906. p. 5. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  11. ^ "Mrs. E.H. Harriman Dies at Age of 81. Widow of Railroad Financier, Who Left to Her His Entire Estate of $100,000,000. Noted For Philanthropies. Aided Red Cross and Artistic and Educational Causes. Interested In Rail Workers' Welfare". The New York Times. November 8, 1932. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  12. ^ "MRS. RUMSEY DIES AFTER HUNT INJURY; Pneumonia Follows Accident in Virginia Nov. 17 When Her Horse Fell on Her". The New York Times. December 19, 1934. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Staff (November 1, 1957). "Peter G. Gerry, Ex-Senator, Dies Hours Before His Brother Robert Rhode Island Democrat, 78, Was a Foe of New Deal— Supported Strong Navy". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  14. ^ "MRS. W. P. STEWART, HORSEWOMAN, IS DEAD". The New York Times. November 4, 1948. Archived from the original on April 9, 2022. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  15. ^ "CAROL HARRIMAN TO WED R. PENN SMITH, JR.; Youngest Daughter of the Late Financier Is Engaged to Philadelphian". The New York Times. June 9, 1917. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  16. ^ "MRS. C.A.H. SMITH WEDS W.P. STEWART; Daughter of Mrs. E. Henry Harriman Is Married to Philadelphian at Her Country Home.WEDDING GIVES SURPRISENo Announcement Had Been Madeof Betrothal of Widow of R. PennSmith and Banker. Kin of Judge William Averell". The New York Times. September 18, 1930. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "Mrs. W. Averell Harriman Dies; Former Governor's Wife Was 67". The New York Times. September 27, 1970. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  18. ^ "E. Roland Harriman Is Dead at 82; Financier and Trotting Sponsor". The New York Times. February 17, 1978. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  19. ^ Stephen Birmingham, Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York, at p. 169-170
  20. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. pp. 448, 567, 820. ISBN 978-0875952772.
  21. ^ "BCNY History". Boys' Club of New York. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  22. ^ Kennan, p. 26
  23. ^ Kennan, p. 39

Further reading