Austin Corbin

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Austin Corbin
BornJuly 11, 1827
DiedJune 4, 1896 (1896-06-05) (aged 68)
Newport, New Hampshire
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
ResidenceNewport, New Hampshire
RelativesRené C. Champollian (son-in-law)

Austin Corbin (July 11, 1827 – June 4, 1896) was a 19th-century American railroad executive and robber baron. He consolidated the rail lines on Long Island bringing them under the profitable umbrella of the Long Island Rail Road. He was the owner of Manhattan Beach, a resort in Brooklyn, New York City, from which he barred Jews. He was also the owner of the Sunnyside Plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas from 1886 to his death in 1896, where he used convict laborers and later brought Italian immigrants to work on the land.

Early life[edit]

Austin Corbin was born on July 11, 1827.


Corbin's most ambitious plan was the 20-mile (30 km) extension of the rail line from Bridgehampton, New York to Montauk, New York where he planned to open a deep water port so that trans-Atlantic passengers could shave a day off their voyages by taking the "mile a minute" trains 100 miles to New York City. However, the plan never materialized as the planned port at Fort Pond Bay in Montauk could not be dredged to handle the seagoing vessels.

Corbin greatly improved the railroad's infrastructure which had fallen into disrepair after a period of cutthroat competition had thrown all the island's railroads into bankruptcy.

Corbin's tactic included the infamous strong-arming (along with his cohorts) of the Montaukett tribe out of nearly 10,000 acres (40 km²) they owned around Montauk. The tribe is still seeking compensation for this tactic. Relics from the tribe are still visible at Camp Wikoff which the LIRR sold the government and where Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were quarantined after returning from the Spanish–American War.

Corbin acquired the Sunnyside Plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas from John C. Calhoun II, the grandson of John C. Calhoun and brother of Patrick Calhoun, in 1886.[1][2] In 1894, he entered in an agreement with the state of Arkansas whereby he was given 250 convict laborers to pick cotton for him; the profits were shared between Corbin and the state.[2] Meanwhile, with the help of Emanuele Ruspoli, 1st Prince of Poggio Suasa, who served as the Mayor of Rome from 1892 to 1899, he brought Italian immigrants to work on the plantation.[1] However, Corbin was accused of "peonage."[1]

Corbin was the owner of the resort of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn.[2] An antisemite, he banned Jews from patronizing the resort.[2] Later, he served as the Secretary of the American Society for the Suppression of Jews.[2]

The 1888 Corbin Building in Manhattan was named for him.

Personal life[edit]

He resided in a mansion in Newport, New Hampshire.[3] He also owned a summer estate in North Babylon, New York along the shores of what is known today as Deer Lake in the Parkdale Estates neighborhood. His daughter married René C. Champollian, a French artist who committed suicide.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in a carriage accident near his country home in New Hampshire in 1896 at age 68.[4][5] He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Gatewood, Willard B, Jr. (Spring 1991). "Sunnyside: The Evolution of an Arkansas Plantation, 1840–1945". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 50 (1): 5–29. JSTOR 40022326. (Registration required (help)).
  2. ^ a b c d e f Marc R. Matrana, Lost Plantations of the South, Oxford, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2009, pp. 40–43
  3. ^ Secluded New Hampshire Estate, The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2012
  4. ^ Discovering the past: writings of Jeannette Edwards Rattray, 1893-1974, by Jeannette Edwards Rattray and Tom Twomey, 2001, pg. 112.
  5. ^ Austin Corbin Dead, The New York Times, June 5, 1896

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Thomas R. Sharp
President of Long Island Rail Road
1881 – 1896
Succeeded by
William H. Baldwin