John I. Blair owned more than 2 million acres of western land, traveled 40,000 miles each year, controlled 60 railroads, and piled up $60 million. It all began at age 18 when he opened a grocery store, in 1820, at Gravel Hill in Warren County.

Gravel Hill changed its name to Blairstown in 1839, with Blair already headed for fame. After the Civil War, he began building railroads west of the Mississippi River. In time, he controlled 2,000 miles of track and was called the“Railroad King of the West.”


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