James J. Hill was a brilliant entrepreneur. Within decades of arriving in St. Paul as a teenager in 1860, he built monopolies in steamboat transportation, coal and banking. His greatest achievement began in 1879 when he bought the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. By 1893, the “Empire Builder” had created a transcontinental railroad. The Great Northern Railway stretched 1,700 miles from St. Paul to Seattle, Washington. He then added more routes headed east and south. At the time of his death in 1916, Hill’s net worth was about $2.5 billion in today’s value. His former home on Summit Avenue was worthy of a tycoon. The 36,000 square foot mansion has a Richardsonian Romanesque design. After the Hill family lived here from 1891 until 1925, the property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Then it was purchased by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1978. They offer fascinating 75 minute tours every half hour.