Collis Potter Huntington was born in Harwinton, Connecticut, in 1821. He was a successful Sacramento, California businessman, and he helped fund the Central Pacific Railroad during the 1860s. This railroad was linked with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869 by the golden spike and became the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. He was later involved in the establishment of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He died in 1900 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.
Collis Huntington was related to another California railroad magnate, Henry E. Huntington, founder of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.