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PAUL F. MOHR. – Perhaps to no man is Spokane Falls under so deep a debt of gratitude for the early completion of the diverging lines of railroad, tapping the richest parts of the surrounding territory, as she is to Mr. Paul F. Mohr. To this gentleman’s persistent efforts, coupled with a thorough knowledge of his undertaking, is directly attributable the completion, in the year 1886, of the Spokane & Palouse and the Spokane & Idaho Railways, both of which roads will exert a powerful influence on the future of the city.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 28, 1849, Mr. Mohr is now in all the prime and vigor of manhood. After receiving a classical and scientific education in this country, at nineteen years of age he went to Germany to take the course of civil engineering at the renowned Polytechnic Institute of Stuttgart, and afterwards went to Hanover, Germany, and to Heidelberg, to perfect himself in special branches of his profession. After three years of study and travel, Mr. Mohr returned to the United States and entered the service of the Pennsylvania Company, in the P., C. & St. L. Railway, as assistant engineer. In 1872 and 1873 he made the survey for the Texas Pacific Railway Company through New Mexico and Arizona, returning to Cincinnati when the latter road was stopped by reason of the memorable panic of 1873. He thereupon entered into a partnership with his father, who founded one of the oldest and largest manufacturing concerns in Cincinnati. Young Mr. Mohr soon became prominent in many business undertakings, was a director of the Cincinnati & Portsmouth Railway, also a director of the Chamber of Commerce of that city and of the Board of Trade; and in 1882 he became a delegate to the National Board of Trade, and was placed upon some of the most important committees of that distinguished body.
In 1887 he became a member of the executive committee of the National Distillery Association, with headquarters in Washington, District of Columbia, where he formed many important associations and friendships with distinguished men of this and other countries, among them the Hon. A.M. Cannon, of Spokane Falls, who, recognizing his talents and ability, induced him to come to Spokane Falls. There, together with Mr. Cannon and others, he organized a company to construct a line of railway into the rich and fertile Palouse country; and, aided by his professional training, Mr. Mohr selected a route which controlled so completely the wheat area of this country of practically unlimited resources that it was that it was with comparatively little effort that such well-known capitalists as C.B. Wright, of Philadelphia, August Belmont of New York, and other large moneyed men were induced to invest in the bonds of the company, and to receive the indorsement of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company.
Mr. Mohr became a director of this branch road, which has since been built and is now being operated by the Spokane & Palouse Railway Company. Mr. Mohr has also been the engineer in charge of construction; and the remarkable short time it has taken to organize, locate, construct and place the road in running order testifies strongly to his skill and energy. Collaterally with the construction of the Spokane & Palouse Railway, he has been a director and was engineer in charge of the construction of the Spokane & Idaho Railway (commencing at Spokane Falls and ending at Coeur d’ Alene City). This latter road was located and completed in the remarkable short space of less than thirty day. The location was commenced in the latter part of September of this year, and by October 23d trains were running over the entire road.
On the completion of the Spokane & Palouse Railway, he was tendered, by the management of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway, which flattering offer was accepted in March, 1888. This line of railroad is considered the most important within Washington. The western terminal is located at Seattle, running from thence eastward to Spokane Falls, having branches from a point near Waterville to the Salmon River mines, and from a point on the Okanagan River to Medical Lake and Colfax, and from Seattle up the Snoqualmie River to the famous Denny coal fields, and from Snohomish Junction, situate on this latter-named branch to a junction with the Canadian Pacific Railway at the international boundaries comprising at present in all a system of about seven hundred miles of road.
Mr. Mohr in this enterprise solved the problem of crossing the Cascade Mountains by selecting the Cady Pass, the only practicable route across the range, with light grades. This very important factor in the matter of construction for a time seemed as if beyond solution, on account of the inability of the company to locate a feasible and accessible crossing of these snowclad mountains; and the project came very near being abandoned, confidence only being restored by the presentation of the pans of Mr. Mohr. At the last meeting of the directors of the corporation held in New York, he was unanimously elected vice-president, and was vested with the sole management of the affairs of the company at Seattle.
Having the greatest confidence in the future development of Washington, and seeming more clearly where the most advantageous investments were to be made, he quite extensively interested himself financially in various portions of the territory. This was at a time when property was to be had at mere nominal prices. His foresight and action thereon has brought him in large returns; for the influx of population, and the consequent pouring in of money during the last two years, has enhanced his holdings to such an extent that he can now be considered one of the affluent men of the commonwealth. Mr. Mohr has all the requirements, both by his ability and experience, to make him a most valuable addition to the population of the territory. With a splendid education, great energy, a large range of experience in commercial and industrial pursuits, an intimate knowledge of the methods of legislative bodies, close friendship with the prominent statesmen and business men of the United States, and possessed of rare executive ability, he is bound to achieve a most prominent place among the representative men of the North Pacific coast.