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Famous Pioneers in Iowa's Transportation History

General Grenville
Mellen Dodge
(1833-1916)

General  DodgeOn July 1, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Enabling Act, under which the Union Pacific was chartered and the building of the first transcontinental railroad was authorized. Construction of the railway began in December 1863. It ran westward from Council Bluffs across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains.

In 1866 Gen. Grenville Mellen Dodge of Council Bluffs resigned his military commission to accept an appointment to serve as chief engineer for the Union Pacific Railway. Dodge succeeded his friend, former employer, notable surveyor and fellow Iowan Peter Dey, who had resigned from the position.

On May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad (built eastward from Sacramento, Calif.) met at Promontory Point, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad.

Dodge was one of Iowa's foremost citizens and one of the nation's greatest railroad builders . He began his career as a surveyor for the Illinois Central Railroad in 1851. From 1855 to 1861 he supervised railroad construction in Iowa. During the Civil War, Dodge built roads, bridges and railroad lines for the Union Army.

He died in Council Bluffs and is buried in a tomb in Walnut Hill Cemetery. The Grenville M. Dodge House built in 1869 was designated a National Historic Site in 1963. The Iowa National Guard's training campground, Camp Dodge, was named in honor of General Dodge.