Louis W. Hill

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Louis Warren Hill
Louis W. Hill, president of Great Northern Railway.png
Hill about 1909
Born (1872-05-19)May 19, 1872
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Died April 27, 1948(1948-04-27) (aged 75)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Nationality American
Occupation President of Great Northern Railway
Spouse(s) Maud Van Cortlandt Taylor
Children 4

Louis Warren Hill (May 19, 1872– April 27, 1948), was an American railroad executive. He was the president and board chairman of the Great Northern Railway, which served a substantial area of the Upper Midwest, the northern Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest.

Life[edit]

Family Roots[edit]

The third of James J. and Mary Mehegan Hill’s ten children, Louis Warren Hill was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1872. He, along with his older brother James, was schooled at home before attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Yale University.

He began working for his father at the Great Northern Railway Company immediately after graduation and began pursuit of his own ultimately extremely successful investments in iron mining in northeastern Minnesota. While the eldest Hill son James had been groomed as their father’s successor, Louis’s capable management of a Great Northern extension over the Rockies in 1901 moved him into position as heir to the Hill business empire.

Marriage[edit]

In 1901 Louis married Maud Van Cortlandt Taylor, child of a well-known New York family. The couple moved into a large home next door to James J. and Mary Hill on Summit Avenue in St. Paul and together had four children: Louis Warren Jr., James Jerome II (always called Jerome), Maud Van Cortlandt and Cortlandt Taylor. The family traveled the United States and the world and spent much of their time at North Oaks Farm, just north of St. Paul, where Louis built a chalet-style retreat.

Work[edit]

Great Northern Railway[edit]

In the mid ‘00s Louis began to take over management of the Great Northern Railway. He was named president in 1907 and board chairman in 1912, although his father James continued to retain much control until his death in 1916. Louis expanded his interests far beyond railroads: he was at the forefront of the oil and auto transport industries and was a major player in land development in Montana and California, in finance, and in copper mining.

Glacier National Park[edit]

One of Louis’ greatest legacies was his enthusiastic promotion of U.S. tourism and the national park system. He was a major force in the creation, promotion, and development of Glacier National Park in Montana, where he built several resorts. He also maintained an interest in the American Indian tribes of Montana and became a collector of Blackfoot material, now housed in the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Records[edit]

In the Louis W. Hill Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society, digital content is available for researcher use.[1] Researchers will find content that includes, but is not limited to: correspondence, ephemera, financial records, blueprints, maps, brochures, and photographs.

The entire Louis W. Hill collection includes correspondence, legal documents, financial records, photographs, printed materials, newspaper clippings, biographical data, and maps related to the personal life and wide ranging business ventures of the St. Paul businessman, president and chairman of the Great Northern Railway Company, and son of James J. Hill.

Digital selections from this manuscript collection were made based on user and researcher interest, historic significance, and copyright status.

Records of the Great Northern Railway Company are also available for research use.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

  • Young, Biloine W., and Eileen McCormack, The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill, Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill

St. Paul, MN.: Ramsey County Historical Society, 2010. ISBN 978-0-934294-71-3