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Charles F. Mayer (railroad president)

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Charles Mayer
Photographed around 1898
Born(1826-11-30)November 30, 1826
DiedFebruary 4, 1904(1904-02-04) (aged 77)
EmployerBaltimore & Ohio Railroad
SpouseSusan Keim
RelativesCharles F. Mayer (uncle)

Charles Frederick Mayer (November 30, 1826[1] - February 24, 1904[2]) was an American rail executive and businessman from Baltimore, Maryland, who served as the 10th president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) from 1889 to 1896.

Early life[edit]

Born to a well-known family, he was the sixth child of Lewis Mayer, a lawyer, and Lewis' cousin and wife, Susan Mayer.[3] His uncle and namesake, Charles F. Mayer, was a Maryland state senator and prominent figure in Baltimore.[1]

Mayer was privately educated in Baltimore and traveled abroad as a youth, before beginning work for his uncle Frederick Koenig.[3][4] Showing "uncommon aptitude for commercial life", as a later biographer wrote, Mayer was dispatched to the west coast of South America on a trading voyage of two years, before returning to Baltimore.[5] On December 4, 1866, Mayer married his cousin, Susan Keim, who was the daughter of Congressman George M. Keim.[1] They had no children.


Mayer became president of the Consolidation Coal Company of Maryland in 1877.[3][4] In 1887, he became a member of the board of directors of B&O, and in 1889, succeeded Samuel Spencer as its president.[4] Mayer served as president for seven years,[3] playing a key role in the construction of the Baltimore Belt Line.[4][6] He recruited young engineer Samuel Rea to design the line,[4] and personally chose the Saxony royal blue color that became the signature of the line's premier Royal Blue rail service.[7][8] Mayer also succeeded in separating the railroad from partial political control by the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, convincing them to sell their stock in the company in 1890.[4] However, the railroad suffered from financial issues during his tenure, and Mayer resigned in 1896. He was replaced by the company's general counsel, John K. Cohen.

A flattering biographical sketch of Mayer in an 1898 Baltimore publication described him thus:[5]

The private life of Mr. Mayer exemplifies the man of faithful and unwavering friendship, who has helped many one to a higher destiny. His benevolence is proverbial, and many are the benefits he quietly and unostentatiously confers.

— Clarence H. Forrest

A member of Baltimore society, Mayer served on many charitable and educational boards and trusts, including those of Johns Hopkins University, the Western National Bank, and the Baltimore Steam Packet Company.[3] A brother of the Masonic Order, Mayer also was a member of a number of clubs in Baltimore, such as the Merchants' Club, the Maryland Club, and the University Club.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Mayer, Brantz (1878). Memoir and Genealogy of the Maryland and Pennsylvanian Family of Mayer which Originated in the Free Imperial City of Ulm, Würtemberg: 1495-1878. Priv. print. for the family by W.K. Boyle & Son.
  2. ^ Obituaries (February 25, 1904). "Death of Mr. Charles F. Mayer". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Charles F. Mayer - The Successful American. Vol. 2. Press Biographical Company. 1899. pp. 36–37.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Stover, John F. (1995). History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Purdue University Press. ISBN 9781557530660.
  5. ^ a b c Forrest, Clarence H. (1898). "Chapter XV: Biographical Sketches". Official History of the Fire Department of the City of Baltimore: Together with Biographies and Portraits of Eminent Citizens of Baltimore. Baltimore: Williams & Werking Company Press. pp. 321–33. ISBN 1146510462.
  6. ^ "Baltimore's Belt Line". The New York Times. 1890-09-05. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2019-11-06. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  7. ^ Kelly, Jacques (22 October 1990). "B&O; Royal Blue was beautiful, beloved and doomed". baltimoresun.com. Archived from the original on 2019-11-06. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  8. ^ Wrabel, Frank A. (2014). "The Royal Blue" (PDF). The Sentinel. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Historical Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-11-06.