Asa Whitney

Asa Whitney

Asa Whitney (1797 - August 1872 Washington, D.C) was an American merchant and great railroad promoter. Whitney lived in New Rochelle, New York, just to the north of New York City where he was a highly successful dry-goods merchant.[1]

He was one of the first backers of an American Transcontinental Railway. As early as 1830 Whitney became enthralled with railroads and foresaw their future role in business and transport. While on a buying trip in England, he rode on the newly opened Liverpool and Manchester Railway. A trip to China in the 1840s is supposed to have shown Whitney the need for a transcontinental railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.[citation needed] When he returned to the United States in 1844, he realized the benefits from such an undertaking, and spent a great deal of money trying to get the Congress to take up the project. In 1849, he published A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific. For years he continued to write revised memorials and take expeditions through what was then known as Indian Territory to support his cause. After more than ten years of trying he at last gave up. Later Whitney's dream was realized through the efforts of Theodore Judah. In the end, Whitney lived to see his dream realized in 1869 with the opening of the Union Pacific.[2]


  1. ^ Herbert B. Nichols, Historic New Rochelle New Rochelle, New York: Board of Education, 1938.
  2. ^ Seymour Dunbar, A History of Travel in America.

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