This Western Character is the owner/president/majority stockholder of a large and successful railroad. In the latter half of the 19th Century, owning a major railroad was a great way to get and stay rich. Not just because of fees for carrying passengers and freight, but land grants giving the railroads large easements on either side of the tracks, which could then be rented out or sold.
The Railroad Baron will be dressed ostentatiously, with a gold pocket watch, fat cigars, and other expensive accessories. They didn't call it the Gilded Age for nothing. Most of them will be middle-aged or older, and an expansive paunch is common.
Because Aristocrats Are Evil, even "honorary" ones, Railroad Barons will usually be treated as an antagonist in stories. They'll have a Screw The Rules I Have Money attitude, hire the Pinkertons to deal with anyone who crosses them (from Outlaw to union organizer), and arbitrarily change planned rail routes for maximum personal profit or to fulfill a vendetta.
Compare Cattle Baron.
Game and Story Use
- Perfect choice for the Big Bad Evil Guy, seeing as how he's rich, powerful, and out of town. The Railroad Baron can put the plot in motion without ever meeting the PCs, and bring immense resources to bare against them once they start to meddle in his affairs.
- The PCs could work for a more benign Railroad owner, one competing for the Transcontinental Railroad contract. The party would be his troubleshooters, traveling up and down the line in a custom Private Railroad Car, fending off rival Railroad Barons and their saboteurs.