Leland Stanford in Transcontinental Railroad
Leland Stanford (1824-1893) came to California and opened a store during the Gold Rush. He was successful in business and had a second career in politics, eventually becoming the governor of California. Fellow Sacramento shopkeeper Collis Huntington brought him on board with the Central Pacific Railroad Company as an investor, and he was named company president in 1863.
Stanford served as the CP's political liaison and public affairs man. When the line met the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit in 1869, Stanford was to hammer in the final spike as the representative of the CP. Supposedly, he missed the spike and botched his moment in history, but Stanford is better remembered for something other than his involvement with the railroad: he founded Leland Stanford Junior University, known today simply as Stanford.