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Alexander Johnston Cassatt

Alexander Johnston Cassatt (December 8, 1839 - December 28, 1906) was the seventh president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, serving from June 9, 1899, to December 28, 1906. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Frequently referred to as “A.J.”, he was the eldest of seven children including a sister, Mary Cassatt, the famed Impressionist painter.

Cassatt joined the PRR in 1861 as an engineer and rapidly rose through the ranks. He was a vice president in 1877 when the Pittsburgh Railway Riots broke out, and by 1880 he had become Pennsy First Vice-President.  Cassatt was initially passed over for the presidency, and disappointed, he resigned from the company in 1882.


During his absence from the PRR, he devoted his time to raising horses.  However, he still was able to organize a new railroad -- New York, Philadelphia, and Norfolk Railroad (NYP&N), which connected southern markets with the north. 


Despite no longer being an executive with PRR, Cassatt was elected to the PRR's board of directors.   In 1899, he was recalled to serve as president. During his term, Cassatt more than doubled the PRR's total assets, from $276 million to $594 million, an increase of 115 percent.  He increased track and equipment investment by 146 percent. He double-tracked the PRR’s route from New York through Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and he four-tracked the route to Washington, DC -- Pennsy's "Broad Way." Many other Pennsy lines were double-tracked during Cassatt’s tenure, and almost every part of the system was improved.  New freight cutoffs were built to avoid stations, grade crossings were eliminated, and flyovers were built to streamline common paths through junctions.

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