Charles Melville Hays, President of the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Companies, has been considered one of the most brilliant and successful of railroad officials. He was born at Rock Island, Ill., May 16, 1856. His school education was completed when he was 17 years of age.
His first work in the railroad world was in the passenger department of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in St. Louis. He was soon promoted to an important position in the ofice [sic] of the auditor of the road, and later was transferred to the General Superintendent's office, where he remained until 1877. That year he was made Secretary to the General Manager of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. In 1886 he became Assistant General Manager of the road. One year later he was appointed General Manager of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific, and later became Manager of the Wabash Western.
When the consolidation of the Wabash lines took place, Mr. Hays was made Vice President of the company and General Manager of the lines of the whole system. This position he retained until his Grand Trunk appointment. At that period he held the following directorships and important railroad positions: Director of the Chicago & Western Indiana Belt Railway of Chicago, Detroit Union Railway and Station Company, Keokuk Union Station Company, Kansas City Union Station Company, Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and Chairman of its Executive Committee. He also represented the Wabash Railroad at the meetings of the Central Traffic Association, Western Passenger and Trunk Line Association. On Dec. 31, 1895, he resigned from the service of the Wabash Railroad, of which he was then General Manager and Vice President, to accept the position of General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, at Montreal.
In 1897 he completed the reorganization of the Central Vermont Railway Company, a subsidiary line of the Grand Trunk, of which he was then President, and in 1908 supervised the completion of the Victoria Jubilee open span double track bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, replacing the old single track, tubular bridge; and the single span steel arch bridge over the Niagara River at Niagara Falls, replacing the old suspension bridge at that point. Under his regime the main line of the Grand Trunk was double-tracked all the way from Ste. Rosalle, a point thirty-eight miles east of Montreal, to Chicago, a distance of 878 miles.
Upon the death of the late Collis P. Huntington, the President and a large owner in the Southern Pacific Company and steamship lines, controling upward of 10,0000 miles, Mr. Hays was the first choice for his successor, and the appointment was made Jan. 1, 1901. In the Autumn of the same year, he resigned and was recalled to take charge of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, of Canada, becoming Second Vice President and General Manager Jan. 1, 1902.
The same year, Mr. Hays conceived the project of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, which Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his Government made possible by the passage of the necessary legislation in 1903 and 1904. This line will he the only transcontinental railway wholly within Canadian territory. It will rum from Moncton, N. B., to Prince Rupert, B. C., about 3,600 miles.
On Jan. 1, 1910, Mr. Hays was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Grand Trunk Central Railway Company, and on that date was made President of the company and its consolidated lines and subsidiary railroad and steamship companies.
Mr. Hays has been in full charge of the company's affairs in America. A year ago Sir Wilfrid Laurier, at a dinner of the Canadian Club of New York, held at the Hotel Astor, said:
"Mr. Hays is beyond question the greatest railroad genius in Canada. As an executive genius he ranks second only to the late Edward H. Harriman."