Kelly Reynolds spent years bringing Henry Bradley Plant to life on the stage and he has managed to convey the excitement of Plant's life in the pages of this book. An excellent read for anyone interested in Florida History - Robert A. Taylor, Florida Institute of Technology
"Henry Bradley Plant brought railroads to the western coast of Florida and opened that part of the peninsula to business and settlement. Without Plant and his vision of what Florida could become with a little help from his railroad, one wonders how long it would have taken for the west coast to develop?" - George Harrell, Alma Clyde Field Library of Florida History
"This is a must read for every railroad buff. It adds to the literature on Henry Bradley Plant and the machinations of late 19th century transportation barons. Plant led an interesting life as a Confederate and a Yankee juggling the demands for business success with an ever-changing political milieu. Plant's achievements rivaled those of Henry Flagler in making modern Florida." - Nick Wynne, The Florida Historical Society
From the Cover:
A pioneer on the heroic scale, Henry Plant transformed a vast geographic and commercial territory into something entirely new. Out to sea at twelve, then a shopkeeper and a young executiveâ€”he rose from promotion to promotion, from success to success. Daringly seizing his own main chance, in the midst of chaos he set out to achieve the altogether spectacular. Over a 20 year period in the post-Civil War South, this Connecticut Yankee overcame a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to emerge the ruler of an empire of railroads, steamships, communication centers, and luxury hotels.
And wherever he went, he left behind grateful employees and satisfied customers. From Charleston to Tampa Bay, his financial acumen and trustworthiness produced a corridor of prosperity that extended westward into Georgia, and by sea connected Tampa, Mobile, Key West, and Havana.
Until now, however, this mighty empire sprawling, but tightly organized and smoothly run has been a lost chapter in transportation history. This book, the first modern biography of the founder, provides the inside story on the often risky building and consolidation of the ultimately triumphant Plant System.
And of its demise as well. The probate of the immense Plant fortune led to one of the first courtroom sensations of the early 20th Century.
Kelly Reynolds follows Henry Plant through some of the most exciting days in America's history, when the communication revolution truly began, and when hard-won advances in transportation helped heal a nation torn by bitter division and strife. Henry Plant ~Pioneer Empire Builder~ tells the story of a man who made doing business a daily adventure, and who made his own and everybody's dreams come true."