Thursday, March 10, 2011

Robert Dollar, Lumber Barron, Shipping Magnate and Philanthropist. Born in Falkirk, Scotland

I know our Blog has a number of readers in Scotland and recently Tish Graham sent some information about Robert Dollar. She lives in Falkirk about 4 miles from his birthplace. Mr. Dollar is a member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame and I repeat below the statements about him as written by Mr. Thomson. Tish also send a link about Mr. Dollar’s contribution to Falkirk.


Robert Dollar was the personification of the American spirit of free enterprise. America was the perfect setting for this poor Scottish immigrant to rise to eminence and wealth. Robert Dollar was born March 20, 1844, at Falkirk, Scotland. His formal education ended at age 11, and in 1858 he emigrated with his parents to Canada, starting work at 13 in a Canadian lumber camp. He engaged in various types of manual labor in Canada and in Michigan, where he moved when he was 24 years old.

Hearing about the expanding frontier of California and the bustling city of San Francisco, Dollar moved there in 1882 and was soon engaged in the lumber business. He expanded his business and moved into foreign trade. He soon engaged in other lines of endeavor in his dealings with other countries. His next move was to get into the shipping business itself to protect and expand his deliveries to customers in the Orient.

His Dollar Line was soon known world-wide, and he started round-the-world passenger service as well. He was head of the Dollar Steamship Company, the Canadian Robert Dollar Company and the Portland Lumber Company among others. During World War I the United States government built many freighters to haul cargo to Europe. When the war ended, the ships that cost millions of dollars were offered for less than a third of what they cost. Dollar snapped them up and expanded his ocean-going shipping line to one of the world's largest.

He was honored and acclaimed by his home city of Falkirk for his accomplishments and philanthropy. Other cities honored Dollar as well, including New York, Shanghai, and Boston. ■ He wrote his memoirs in 1925 and died on May 16, 1932, at San Rafael, California.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club

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