Charles Elsey January 1, 1932 - December 31, 1948
Born in Oakland, California on September 19, 1880 Charles Elsey's first
employment was in 1895 as a messenger for Haggin & Tevis, whose
operations extended from Alaska to Mexico and whose interests
included gold, silver and copper mines (Anaconda, Homestake, and the
Ontario Silver Mining Company, park City, Utah); cattle raising
(largest in the West); and the Rancho Del Paso, comprising 44,000
acres devoted to the breeding of thoroughbred horses, the yearlings
being auctioned off each year in Madison Square Garden. Eventually,
Mr. Elsey became purchasing agent for this vast network of
He retired as Western Pacific’s president on December 31, 1948 after spending his entire railroad career in the service of the WP. His service began during construction days in 1907 and ended forty one years later, with the railroad in probably the best physical and financial condition in its 38 year history.
His parents, Annie Louise Taylor and Charles Elsey, were pioneer Forty-niners, his father coming across the plains via the southern route and his mother being born on the high seas en-route around the Horn, arriving in San Francisco in the fall of 1849. His father prospected for gold in the Feather River country but, unlike most of the Forty-niners, he foresaw the transient nature of such a livelihood and invested his gold in the future of California. In 1858 or '59, he purchased 2,375 acres in Colusa County, devoted to farming and raising cattle.
He became associated with the Western Pacific as assistant treasurer in 1907; was elected treasurer the following year; promoted to vice president finance in 1921; to executive vice president in 1929; and to president in 1932. During his tenure in office, the Western Pacific progressed from virtual obscurity to national prominence.
Mr. Elsey was the longest serving President in WP history. He passed away in San Francisco on August 17, 1962 across the bay from his birthplace of Oakland, California.