When the White Star Liner Titanic struck an iceberg, it is feared Charles Melville Hays, president and general manager of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad was carried down with the doomed steamer. Mr. Hays had been in England for some time, securing loans to carry on the construction work on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad.
His son-in-law, Thornton Davidson of Montreal, and the latter's wife, who was the only daughter of Mr. Hays, were both on the boat when the disaster occured.
Thornton Davidson was the son of Mr. Justice Davidson and a brother of Peers Davidson, K. C., who was connected with the Herbert case and the netemere decree. He was about 30 years of age and a prominent stock broker, conducting a business at 86 Norte Dame-street. About five years ago he married Miss Hays.
Born Fifty-Six Years Ago.
Born in Rock Island, Illinois on May 16, 1856, Charles Melville Hays showed ambition at the age of seventeen, and entered the service of the Atlantic and Pacific Railway at St. Louis, Missouri in 1873. He afterwards was connetced [sic] with the Missouri Pacific Railway and the Wabash, St Louis and Pacific Railway Company until October, 1886, when he received the appointment as assistant general manager of the Wasbash Western Railway, where he remained until 1889.
The Wabash Railroad was reorganized and Mr. Hays received the position of general manager, but in 1893 a vice presidency was conferred upon him. While an official of this road [sic] Mr. Hays represented it at the convention of the Central Railway Association, Western Passenger Association and Trunk Line Association.
Went to Grand Trunk
In 1895, when offered the position of general manager of the Grand Trunk Company of Canada, at Montreal, he resigned from the Wabash Railroad. Shortly afterwards, in 1897, he was instrumental in the reorganization of the Central Vermont Railway Company, a subsidiary of the G. T. R., and after being elected president, completed the Victoria Jubilee open span double track bridge, crossing the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, and replacing the old tubular bridge. The main line of the G. T. R. was double tracked from a point 38 miles east of Montreal to Chicago, a distance of 873 miles, completing the longest continuous double track railway in the world, under one management.
With Southern Pacific.
When Collis P. Huntington, president of the Southern Pacific Company and steamship lines, controlling over 10,000 miles died, Mr. Hays was chosen as his successor, and in 1901 he assumed charge of this company, but resigned in the latter part of the year, and was recalled by the English directors to take control of the G. T. R., which he did in 1902, as second vice-president and general manager.
In this year [sic] Mr. Hays had the inspiration to organize the Grand Trunk Pacific, and with the assistance of the government this ambition was realized, and he was elected president. On Jan. 1. 1910, he was made president and a member of the board of directors of the Grand Trunk Railway Company. In addition to these two lines, Mr. Hays was president of all the subsidiaries of these roads. [sic] including the Central Vermont, Grand Trunk Western, Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee, and of many other smaller railroads operating over 1500 miles of tracks on these lines alone.
Mr. Hays was also president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Branch Lines Company, having some 1500 to 2000 miles of track in the northwest. [sic] and the Grand Trunk Pacific Coast Steamship Company.
From a clerk sitting in the office of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, Charles Melville Hays appeared to be impelled by some unseen power until he eventually became one of the greatest railroad men in the world. His career, to say the least, was checkered and there seemed to be no obstacle too large for him to overcome.
It is said that he refused a knighthood in 1910. His wife is the daughter of William H. Gregg of St. Louis, Mo.