Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

DODGE, GRENVILLE (1831-1916)

Born in Danvers, Massachusetts, on April 12, 1831, Grenville Mellen Dodge graduated from Norwich University and Partridge's Military School, both in Norwich, Vermont, as a military and industrial engineer. During the 1850s he surveyed and constructed railroads in Iowa and engaged in business and banking in Council Bluffs in addition to trading with Plains Indians.

Dodge used both his engineering and his military skills during the Civil War, rising from captain to major general. During the conflict's final months, as commander of the Department of the Missouri, his command was expanded to reopen Plains mail routes and protect telegraph lines. Dodge was appointed chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad in January 1866 and occupied that position until 1870. His work for the Union Pacific was his greatest accomplishment and won him renown as a railroad builder.

Dodge resigned from the road in January 1870 (although he continued to be associated with the line for many years) and devoted the next three decades to building railroads and organizing railroad companies. These lines lay in the southern United States, Mexico, and Cuba. He also served as consultant to German and Italian engineers as they constructed a tunnel through the Alps.

Dodge devoted his final years to promoting railroad legislation, working in patriotic organizations, and writing on engineering and military subjects. He died at his home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on January 3, 1916, survived by his wife, Anne, whom he had married on May 29, 1854, and three daughters.

Liston E. Leyendecker Fort Collins, Colorado

Dodge, Grenville M. How We Built the Union Pacific Railway. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1910.

Hirshon, Stanley P. Grenville M. Dodge: Soldier, Politician, Railroad Pioneer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967.

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