Friday, June 29, 2012

Luther Fillmore (1826-1905) - Railroad Pioneer; Erie Canal Contractor

Fillmore family lot (Photo by Michael Colbruno)
Oakland Tribune, Dec. 18, 1905



Luther Fillmore, formerly superintendent, of the Southern Pacific Coast Railroad between Oakland and Santa Cruz, died this morning.

Mr. Fillmore was one of the early pioneers and was prominently identified with the early settlement of Colorado and California, and helped to blaze the railroad trail into the Far West.


Mr. Fillmore, was born at Fayetteville, N. Y., and at an early age decided to fling his fortunes into the lap of the West. When only twenty-one years of age Mr. Fillmore took a contract to grade a section of the Syracuse and Binghampton Railroad in New York State, and in 1848 was the principal contractor in the rebuilding of the Erie Canal. He then went over to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, with which road he was associated for fifteen years, attaining to the highest positions in its service.
Southern Pacific Coast Railroad


In 1869 Mr. Fillmore went to Denver and was instrumental in pushing much of the railroad 
work which at that time sent Denver and the State of Colorado ahead with such rapid strides. 
From there Mr. Fillmore went to Wyoming and became division superintendent at Laramie on 
the Union Pacific Railroad. He was later superintendent of the Union Pacific from Cheyenne 
to Ogden, when his name, was interwoven with the names of D.C. Dodge, Sidney Newton and 
the late Senators Fair and Leland Stanford in many big enterprises. In March, 1884, Mr. 
Fillmore accepted the management of the Southern Pacific Coast Railroad, under the Fair regime, 
and made that road one of the best paying systems in the West, and was instrumental in
improving the ferry service between San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda.


In 1896, after twelve years active service, he was compelled on account of ill health and 
advancing years to retire, much to the regret of the Southern Pacific employes, with whom, he 
was most popular, and who regarded him more as a friend than an employer, and he had at the 
same time the faculty of getting more conscientious attention to duty from his subordinates than any
other man on the road. During the last few years of his life Mr. Fillmore has been residing at 
Laramie, Wyoming, looking after his large cattle interests in that State. About a year ago he
returned to California in search of a less rigorous climate.

Mr. Fillmore came of an old railroad family, and his nephew, the late J.M. Fillmore, was manager 
of the Pacific Coast Railroad between Port Hartford and San Luis Obispo. He mas born 
near Syracuse, N Y, and was a relative of President Millard Fillmore, his father being a cousin of 
the President.


At the time of his death Mr Fillmore was seventy-nine years of age. He is survived by a widow 
and four daughters. Mrs. Luther Fillmore, the widow is at present with her daughter, Mrs. Clyde 
Opelt and owing to sickness and old age will be unable to be present at the funeral. Mr. 
Fillmore’s daughters are Mrs. W.H. Adams of 123 Eighth Street Oakland, Mrs M.C. Brown 
of Seattle, Mrs. C. Opelt of Denver, and Mrs. G. Tinkham of Chicago. A son-in-law, W.H.
Adams the capitalist, resides at 123 Eighth Street.

The funeral services will be held at the home of his daughter on Wednesday next. Dr. 
Homer J. Vosburgh of the First Baptist Church will officiate. The remains will be Interred in 
the Oakland cemetery.

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