From 'The Civil War Career of Thomas A. Scott': "Scott's early life was beset with hardship. Born in the village of Loudon, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1823, the seventh in a family of eleven children, he soon learned valuable lessons of self-reliance and independence. His formal education was very meager, being limited to a few years of village school training under Robert Kirby, the Loudon schoolmaster. His practical training was more extensive. The straggling cluster of houses called Loudon, where Scott spent his boyhood days, was on the main-travelled pike between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. To the village inn kept by his father, Thomas Scott, in this hamlet under the shadow of Cove Mountain came the drivers of the heavily-loaded Conestoga wagons which then freighted the commerce of the Atlantic seaboard to the Ohio Valley. Here, also, the stage drivers paused to permit their passengers to refresh themselves. It would not be surprising, therefore, if Scott's early impressions of passing freight cargoes and interesting travelers should have later awakened in him an interest in the business of transportation. Undoubtedly, the ease with which he moved among people as an adult and his habits of personal graciousness to travelers were cultured in the environment of this frontier tavern."
From newspaper biography: "Colonel Thomas Alexander Scott was the fourth president of the Pennsylvania railroad. He was one of the most remarkable men ever produced by the state of Pennsylvania and, in addition to his great service for the railroad, as assistant secretary of war during the Civil war he rendered an outstanding service for the nation during the years of trial and peril. Colonel Scott was born in the village of Loudon, Franklin county, on Dec. 28, 1823; became president in June, 1874; resigned because of failing health on May 1, 1880, and he died at his home near Darby, Pa., on May 21, 1881. At the time of Colonel Scott's birth most of Pennsylvania was a wilderness and few of its later myriads of factories, forges, shops and transportation facilities had made their advent. He grew up with his state, and as his powers matured, promoted the growth of the state with the ardor and loyalty of an affectionate son and the strength and ability of a leader of his countrymen. He was at school until 12 years of age and, while yet a lad, went to work in a country store near Waynesboro in his native county, later serving in the same capacity in stores in the towns of Bridgeport and Mercersburg until 1841. Meanwhile, the commonwealth had built the chain of canals and portage railroads in the state and was calling into the operation of these public works the best and most competent young men. Colonel Scott attracted the attention of his brother-in-law, Major James Patton, then collector of tolls on the state railroad at Columbia, and he became clerk to Major Patton. That was on Aug. 1, 1841. By 1847 he was the chief clerk in the office of collector of tolls on the state main line in Philadelphia. Meanwhile the Pennsylvania railroad was organized and chartered and in 1851 its president, Colonel William C. Patterson, attracted by Scott's prompt, clear-headed, driving and masterly ways, secured his services for that company and made him general agent of the Eastern division, with his office at Duncansville, placing him in charge of the Portage road over the Alleghenies, which the Pennsy used pending the construction of the tunnel and the building of the line west of Altoona. As rapidly as parts of the Western division were built they were assigned to him, and when the line was finished he was made superintendent with offices in Pittsburgh. In 1858 he became general superintendent of the entire line, with headquarters in Altoona, and upon the death, in 1860, of William B. Foster, Jr., he became vice president of the company. From the day of his first association with the work of the road Colonel Scott had made the closest possible study of all the details of management, of the influence of local industries upon traffic and of all the conditions which bore upon the future prosperity of the Pennsylvania railroad, especially the method of dealing with the through traffic between the great farming regions and the Atlantic seaboard.Under his leadership and that of his chief, J. Edgar Thomson, the road prospered. Then in 1861, the Civil war began with its tremendous problem of transportation of troops and supplies. Soon General Simon Cameron, then secretary of war, calling for a man of great energy and decision, with experience as a railway officer, sent for Colonel Scott, and before Cameron and President Lincoln realized that the work had been started he had opened the railroad lines and the troops and supplies were moving into Washington.In gratitude for his achievement, President Lincoln, on May 3, 1861, appointed him colonel of the District of Columbia volunteers and a few weeks later gave him charge of all government railroad and telegraph lines, while in August he was appointed assistant secretary of war. Colonel Scott rapidly perfected the system of railroad transportation for the army. The speed with which Colonel Scott would lay the rails of a line, needed somewhere in the field, and repair a line which had been destroyed by some smart dash by the enemy, was truly marvelous. Colonel Scott returned to the railroad in June, 1862, but the following year he again responded to his country's call, became assistant quartermaster on the staff of General Joseph Hooker, then in command of the Army of the Potomac, and in the various campaigns that followed he did superhuman work in rebuilding railroads, rushing reinforcements where needed, and providing the armies with ammunition and foodstuffs. At the time of the battle of Antietam, when the Union army ran short of ammunition, Colonel Scott took personal charge of a train of cars loaded with powder and rushed it to the front with such speed that, to the terror of trainmen, the axle boxes began to heat and smoke. Colonel Scott refused to allow the train to stop, even to lubricate the axles. To the amazement of all the train rolled into the place of its destination on time, safe, but with flames shooting from the boxes of almost every wheel.Colonel Scott returned to his railroad before the end of the war, but he was constantly consulted by President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton and other government leaders, and he devoted himself indefatigably to the management and development of the railroad. He was the unanimous choice of the board for the presidency when J. Edgar Thomson died in 1874. He organized the Texas Pacific railroad and became its president and in 1871 he became president of the Union Pacific railroad. He served on the board of the Denver & Rio Grande and on various other corporations and he amassed a large fortune in paper manufacturing, real estate and other interests. The vital feature of Colonel Scott's character was his tremendous power of dispatching work. The wholesome country life of his boyhood had laid the strong foundation of a remarkable physical vitality, while at the same time he grew intellectually more rapidly than the work laid upon him and was always the master. But incessant application finally overtaxed the giant, and in the fall of 1878 he suffered a paralytic stroke from which he never fully recovered. A year's rest in Europe failed to restore his health and, on May 1, 1880, he resigned the presidency of the Pennsylvania and the Texas Pacific railroads. American history records the lives of many successful men, who have risen from poverty to opulence and influence, but of none can it be said more truthfully than of Thomas A. Scott, that his work from beginning to end was actively creative, public spirited, inspired by a generous, proud and loyal heart and useful to the last degree. To Colonel Scott, more than any other man, belongs the credit for making the Pennsylvania the greatest railroad in all the world. He met successfully the panic of '73 and the long period of hard times that followed; the strike of '77, and he put the road on a solid financial foundation, one of his major achievements being the foundation of the sinking or trust fund to retire liabilities of the road out of its surplus revenues."