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