JOHN F. KIDDER
The era of progress and development in the various sections of this great western republic of ours has been almost invariably ushered in by railroad construction, and the vast network of glistening rails that trace their parallel course over mountains and plains and through the fertile valleys represent more than corporate enterprise and accomplishment, since the railroad has proved the avant-courier of civilization and of that substantial and permanent improvement which has placed our national commonwealth upon a stable foundation. Railroading operations in the United States represent one of the most complex and yet one of the most perfect systems which it is possible to imagine, and in the various details are demanded men who are alive to the responsibilities placed upon them, and possessed of that mentality and technical knowledge which will enable them to discharge their duties effectively. The great railroading industry is one which retains many men of marked ability, and among those who have contributed in no small measure to the success of operations in these lines is the subject of this review, who has been active in connection with railroad building in the west and is now the general manager of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad, him home being in Grass Valley.
Mr. Kidder is a native of New York City, born July 2, 1830, and his father, Levi Kidder, was born in Massachusetts and was an educator of considerable note in his early life. Later he engaged in business as a shipping merchant and during the year 1836, while visiting Charleston, South Carolina, with a cargo of goods, he suffered sunstroke which caused his death. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elvira Parker, was also a native of Massachusetts and a descendant of one of the old and influential families of New England, tracing their ancestry back in direct line to Theodore Parker. Her death occurred in 1893. John Flint Kidder, the elder of her two children, was reared in the city of his birth. He acquired his preliminary education there, which was completed by a collegiate course in Rensselaer University, in which he was graduated in 1847, having completed the civil-engineering course. He afterward held the position of city engineer of Syracuse, New York, and was also the superintendent of streets for some years.
In 1860 Mr. Kidder came to the west, locating at Carson City, Nevada, whence he afterward removed to Portland, Oregon, where he engineered and built a portion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, making the survey and superintending the construction of the line from Kalama, Washington, for a distance of sixty miles. He also located the Nevada County Narrow Gauge from Colfax, California, to Grass Valley, doing the work under contract, and in 1876 was appointed superintendent of the road, which was built and equipped at a cost of six hundred and forty-one thousand dollars. The road is twenty-three miles in length and was incorporated April 4, 1874. At the time the new charter went into effect the line was sold, Mr. Kidder becoming the purchaser, and at the present time he owns the greater part of the stock.
In his political views Mr. Kidder is a Republican and is very active and earnest in the support of the principles of the party. His labors have been effective in promoting the growth of the organization, and on the Republican ticket he was elected and served as a representative from El Dorado County in the state legislature in 1866. He has also held a number of important state offices by appointment of the governor, and in all these positions has discharged his duty in a most able and creditable manner. Socially he is connected with the Masonic Lodge of Syracuse, New York, and has taken the Royal Arch degree. He also belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen of Grass Valley.
In May, 1873, Mr. Kidder was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Clark, a lady of culture and refinement who presides most graciously over her hospitable home. She is a native of Iowa and a daughter of Joshua Clark, an Oregon pioneer. Mr. and Mrs. Kidder now have one child, Beatrice. Their residence, which is conveniently located near the depot, is one of the finest in northern California. It was erected thirteen years ago at a cost of many thousand dollars. It is built in a pleasing style of architecture, is finished throughout in hard wood and supplied with all modern conveniences. It is both richly and tastefully furnished and contains many handsome pieces of old furniture, some of which have been in existence for one hundred and fifteen years. The large library is composed of rare and valuable works, as well as the more modern volumes, and indicates the literary taste of the owner who therein spends many of his most pleasant hours. The grounds are beautifully adorned with shrubs and flowering plants and the home is one of the most attractive in this section of the state. Mr. Kidder is a man of the highest business integrity, of the utmost loyalty in matters of citizenship, and of a genial and social nature, manifesting in his relations with his fellow men those sterling characteristics which in every land and in every clime command respect.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.