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Collis P. Huntington
Collis P. Huntington

There is a point [Newport News] so designed and adapted by nature that it will require comparatively little of the hands of man to fit our purpose. The roadstead, well known to all maritime circles, is large enough to float the ocean commerce of the world; it is easily approached in all winds and weather without pilot or tow; it is never troubled by ice and there is enough depth of water to float any ship that sails the seas and at the same time is so sheltered that vessels can lie there in perfect safety at all times of the year.”
—Collis P. Huntington, Annual Report, 1880, ODLC

1873Letter from Alexander B. Green to Huntington

As early as 1870, Huntington’s land agent, Alexander B. Green, was buying land in the area to extend the C & O Railway to the Newport News area.

Letter from Alexander B. Green to Huntington
1821–1900Collis Potter Huntington

Huntington was born in Harwinton, Connecticut in 1821. At the age of sixteen he became a peddler and sold watches and hardware for New England manufacturers. In 1837, while traveling as a peddler, he first visited the Virginia Peninsula and thought it was an excellent location for a port. Huntington earned his fortune selling mining gear in Sacramento during the Gold Rush. After the Civil War, he was a key player in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. He realized the potential in connecting the West, the Ohio Valley, and West Virginia coal mines with a deepwater port and so became involved with the C & O Railway.

Plan for Capitalization  of the ODLC
1880Plan for Capitalization of the ODLC

On October 19, 1880 Huntington organized the ODLC which laid the foundation for the City of Newport News and all the developments it created, such as housing projects, the water company and the shipyard.

First Board of the ODLC 1880 ODLC Charter

This charter includes the officers and directors with Huntington as both a director and the president.

Photograph of Newport News as developed by the ODLC
1906 Photograph of Newport News as developed by the ODLC

Collis P. Huntington is considered one of the classic figures of the Gilded Age, and he is responsible for the creation of the City of Newport News and the Newport News Shipyard as we know them today.