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In 1864, Vanderbilt quickly gained control of the Hudson River Railroad. In 1867, he gained control of the New York Central and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroads. In 1870, he purchased the Canada Southern Railroad.
The New York and Hudson lines later merged to become the New York Central and Hudson River Railroads. This would become one of America's first giant corporations. Major users of Vanderbilt's lines included Carnegie Steel and Standard Oil which were major Vanderbilt competitors.
In October of 1871, Vanderbilt opened Grand Central Depot. The train station brought together all of the major rail lines in the north and northeast. The station was financed solely by Vanderbilt.
Throughout Vanderbilt's life he donated millions of dollars to churches, universities, etc. Thanks to Vanderbilt's endless donations, Vanderbilt University, was established in Tennessee in 1873.
Vanderbilt proved that he was a captain of industry by allowing competing industries to use his railroads to transport their goods. Andrew Carnegie was the top user of the Pennsylvania Railroad for transporting steel from his factory. John D. Rockefeller was also a longtime user of Vanderbilt railroads until a dispute began and Vanderbilt terminated his deal.
Sadly, on January 4, 1877, at the age of 82 Cornelius Vanderbilt passed away. He left 95% of his estate to one of his sons, William Henry Vanderbilt I. William along with descendants continued to donate to Vanderbilt University in honor of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
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