The Fascinating Story of Minor Cooper Keith

Many have described the story of Minor Cooper’s life as intriguing and exciting. Some think his life is just as exciting as a Hollywood Blockbuster movie. Let’s uncover the truth.

His full name is Minor Cooper Keith.  Keith was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1849. Interestingly, by the time he was in his early 20’s, Keith was already a railroad tycoon. At this time, he worked in the Costa Rica jungles. Of course, Keith did not become wealthy without putting in some work.

Keith Survived a Tragic Ordeal to Build a Mighty Empire

While in the Costa Rica jungle, Keith survived a terrible calamity that killed his brothers, uncle, and nearly 5,000 workers. This left him desperate and lonely. Keith then purchased 700 jailbirds straight from the New Orleans Prison. These laborers worked to build the railroad.

At some point, the transport steamer had trouble on a reef situated off the Belize Coast. When a mutiny broke out, Keith personally contained the rebels. Later, Keith helped save the Costa Rica government from bankruptcy. The President rewarded him with his daughter for marriage.

 Keith Becomes “Mr. Banana”

In time, Keith Cooper earned a distinction as the first man to import bananas into the Southern part of the US. He also invested in various Bay County enterprises. He even became a partner in the Bay Line Railroad venture.

When he began importing the bananas, the fruit was expensive. In time, bananas became a prized status symbol. Interestingly, while this might seem quaint today, Keith Cooper is credited with introducing a tradition where the rich famously took photographs while holding bananas.

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Keith died in 1929.

Milestones of M. C. Keith’s Achievements

M.C Keith is credited with building the railroad that ran from the Costa Rica Atlantic Coast to the countryside. He also promoted bananas as a viable cash crop. Keith spent 30 years supervising a special railroad construction. He laid a foundation for what later became the United Fruit Company. This company was among America’s major overseas private enterprises.

Earlier on, Keith personally managed a cattle enterprise on Padre Island, on the Texas coastline. In time, Henry, his older brother, won a contract to construct a railroad that would run from the Costa Rica central highlands to the Atlantic Coast. Henry called Keith to help him make a success of the railroad project.

M.C Keith arrived in Costa Rica in 1871. Eventually, the famous railroad was completed in 1890. On 7th December 1890, the first-ever train’s historical journey to San Jose was flagged off.

Finally, M.C Keith later played a central role in the formation of the United Fruit Company.


M.C Keith is fondly remembered as the man who popularized the banana industry, making it thrive in the days before the crop’s value was recognized.

As noted, he played a central role in constructing the strategic railroad in Costa Rica and forming the successful United Fruit Company. Just like a memorable movie etched permanently in our minds, M.C Keith’s legacy lives on.

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