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Charles Barstow Wright (8 January 1822 – 24 March 1898[1]) was a United States financier.


Wright was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He started in business at 15, and at 19 was taken as a partner by his employer. In 1843 he received from the Towanda Bank a trust of landed interests in the then small town of Chicago, and in two years he not only fulfilled this mission successfully, but realized handsome profits in Chicago real estate for himself. In 1863 he engaged actively in developing the petroleum interests of Pennsylvania.

In 1870, as director and afterward as president, he undertook the work of pushing the Northern Pacific Railroad to completion. After the road had been built to the Missouri River, and eastward from the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles, Jay Cooke and Co., the fiscal agents, failed during the Panic of 1873, and the completed parts were not paying expenses. Wright afterward assisted in the reorganization by which the road was completed to Puget Sound.

In 1873 he took an active part in founding the city of Tacoma, Washington. There he endowed the Annie Wright Seminary for girls (named for his daughter),[2] and Washington College for boys, and was noted for his generosity to young men.

Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma was named in his honor, as was Tacoma's Wright Park Arboretum.[2]


  1. ^ "Subjects of Biographies". Dictionary of American Biography. Comprehensive Index. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1990.
  2. ^ a b DEATH OF FORMER TACOMA RESIDENT, in the Tacoma Times; published May 17, 1904 (via Chronicling America)