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Clark, J. Ross (James Ross), 1850-1927


J. Ross (James Ross) Clark (1850-1927) was the leading figure behind the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad which, in 1902, connected Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Clark also had a deep interest in California corporations in Los Angeles, and was a member and supporter of multiple charitable and civic organizations. Some organizations he was a part of included the Masons, the Jonathan Club, the California Club, the Midwick and the Los Angeles Country Club, and the Sierra Madre Club.

J. Ross Clark was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania on April 10, 1850. He and his seven siblings were the children of John William Clark and Mary Jane Kithcart Clark. In 1856, he and his family moved to Van Buren County, Iowa where he attended public schools and the Bentonsport Academy of Bentonsport, Iowa. At the age of twenty-one, Clark followed his older brother, William A. Clark, to Montana. Together with his other brother Joseph K. Clark, J. Ross Clark operated as a mail contract carrier with headquarters at Horse Plains, Montana until 1876. After a year of working as a bookkeeper for the Dexter Milling Company, he became a cashier at the bank of Donnell, Clark, and Larabie. In seven years, he and his brother William A. Clark became the owners of the business, renaming the bank as W. A. Clark & Brother. J. Ross Clark married Miriam A. Evans on April 16, 1878 and had five children, however only two children survived to adulthood: Ella Harriot and Walter Miller Clark.

After moving to Los Angeles, California in 1892, Clark saw many opportunities for development. Four years later in 1946, he founded the Los Alamitos Sugar Company in which he passed down to his son Walter Miller Clark. In 1896, he took financial interest in the Citizens National Bank and the Citizens Trust and Savings Bank. With William A. Clark and his friends, J. Ross Clark developed a project that he had envisioned: a direct railroad line from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. This was accomplished with a seventy million dollar bond issue. He was titled the vice president and executive head of the railroad, which later became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad system. He achieved multiple titles during his lifetime, such as the president of the Montana Land company, the president of the Young Men's Christian Association, the director of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the president of the board of directors of the Citizens National Bank. Clark passed away on September 18, 1927 in Los Angeles.


Strack, Don. “James Ross Clark (1850-1927).” J. Ross Clark, January 16, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2020.

“Clark, James Ross and Miriam A. Evans, House, West Adams, Los Angeles, CA.” PCAD. Accessed June 25, 2020.

Caslon, Bradford. J. Ross Clark. Accessed June 25, 2020.