Hill was a self-made millionaire; through hard work and determination he came back from losing an eye to becoming the Railroad Tycoon. Hill went through many professions and dreams, but it was the railroad and his family that stole his heart forever. Among other things Hill wanted to be a doctor, a steamboat officer, and of course a Railroad Tycoon. However what set him apart from the crown was his ability to do what all others had failed, to build a population around a railroad, and not a railroad around the population.
James J. Hill was born on September 16, 1838 in Rockwood, Ontario. When he was very young Hill was shot in the eye with an arrow leaving him permanently blind in one eye. James J. Hill then moved to St. Paul, at the age of 18, determined to be a trapper, but he soon became fond of the city, and decided to start a steamboat company. James. J. Hill then went on to marry Mary Theresa Mehegan, together they had 10 children, of which 1 died at infancy. They had 3 boys leaving 7 girls. James J. Hill died in St. Paul, MN on May 29, 1916 at the age of 77 years old.
The death of James J. Hill's father interrupted his early education, but later he returned to school at Rockwood Academy, who gave him free tuition. Between the time his father died and the time he returned to school, he was working to help support his struggling family, as a clerk at the age of 14.
James J. Hill's first job was as a clerk, this taught him how to use and invest money to make the greatest profits. He then went on to work as an agent for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Here he realized that the wood that they were using for fuel was not as efficient as coal. So he and other set up a fuel, freighting, merchandising, and warehouse company known as Hill, Griggs, & Company. This company had a well-established monopoly over the fuel business in St. Paul and the nearby region. He then set up a steamboat business that brought the furs of individual traders up to Winnipeg for sale.