Downington to Bridgeport

The Chester Valley Branch

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The abandoned right-of-way crosses Lincoln Highway at an angle near the Exton mall in Exton, PA. Many traces of the line in Exton have been obliterated due to development. Photo by Joe Sharretts.

This branch line was built in 1835 by the Philadelphia and Chester Valley Railroad. It connected to the Trenton Cut-off of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Downington, PA, and to the Reading Division of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad at Bridgeport, PA. Its total length was 21 miles.

About midway along the route, a short spur known as The Phoenixville Branch branched from the line at Cedar Hollow Station and proceeded north. At another point along this line, a second spur proceeded northwards, parallel and immediately to the west of PA Route 100 (Pottstown Pike Road), and served the West Whiteland Silica Mine; the mine no longer exists, and the area today is known as the Whiteland West apartment complex today.

Conrail abandoned the line in 1989, and removed the tracks in the early part of the 1990s; it was last used to deliver a power transformer to Peco. Today, portions of the line have been converted to the Chester Valley rail-trail.

Thanks to Joe Sharretts for contributing information about this route.

Is all of this abandoned? Google Maps shows the line heading West from Bridgeport to 276-PA Turnpike to have rail cars on it. Is this just used as a storage area now?

Buck
Philly, PA
12/30/2010

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The surviving portion of the line, between King of Prussia and Bridgeport, was abandoned in 2010. Crews are removing trackage and grade crossing signals as i write this.

Mike
Frackville, PA
5/23/2011

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The Mill Rd station just off Rt. 401 and adjacent to Rte 202 in Malvern is still standing as a house. The tracks are now a paved trail. The house has been remodeled, but you can see the early station. The New Centerville station on OLD rte. 202 ( Swedesford Rd. ) across from Gateway Shop Ctr. was razed in the last 10 yrs. Next to a TD Bank. Concrete pilings were still there from the water tank. Map of 1880 shows that station. 200 yds east is a perfect stone drainage structure still carrying a creek. ( this is rd /ramp which paralells 202) This was 1/4 mile west of the Maple Station which is where County Line rd crossed.

The present 202 followed the old roadbed. Just west of present 202 going into Bridgeport ( just past Henderson Rd.) the tracks are still visible. A few rail cars remain on a siding next to a new shopping center. Also, in Exton along Bus. 30 you can see the roadbed as it crossed Bus. 30 behind an old stone tavern. 100 yds further is the entrance to Exton Mall. I can give you a pic of the Mill Rd. Station as it is today. Also that station is in a book of U S RR Stations as it looked in late 1800's. I have it on my computer now.

Alden Smith
Wayne Pa, PA
5/28/2012

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The track that connected at Cedar Hollow station was NOT the Frazer branch which was a PRR line. The Reading line diverging was listed in the RDG timetable as the Cedar Hollow Industrial but often called the Cedar Hollow branch by the crews. It primarily served the Warner quarry. The PRR line served the same quarry coming in from the opposite direction. Yes I have pictures of CV branch trains

Richard W. Jahn
Blue Bell, PA
4/29/2013

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i was looking at this rail line and saw abandoned rail and a bridge.i was wondering if all that i saw is still there.any information would be greatly appreciated.

george oakley
reading, PA
5/25/2013

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As a kid I used to watch the Hansen quarry get serviced on this line. The tracks crossed Quarry Rd. I never thought to take pictures of this line growing up, wish I did now.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
10/28/2013

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thanks for the information.have to check it out about that quarry.see if anything is there.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
10/29/2013

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George, nothing left, at least on the Downingtown end at the quarry.

Most of the line east of that just north of business Rte 30 is gone or is now part of the road alignment of the old two lane road above what use to be or still is Church Farm School.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
11/18/2013

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thank you for the information.answered some questions i did have about the rail line.do you know if there is still rail at the other end?keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
11/19/2013

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Reading Company Chester Valley Branch (1985)

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=592351210884504&set=pcb.276113805907213&type=1&theater

Gregory D. Pawelski
Wernersville, PA
7/13/2014

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Greg, the images do not show up from the link. Might be a privacy setting.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
7/13/2014

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Jeff, I have my FB page open to the public. Make sure an "s" doesn't show up on the http:

Gregory D. Pawelski
Wernersville, PA
7/13/2014

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I went to the Church Farm School back in 1974. In the afternoons we used to see one or two switch engines, an sw12 or mabey an sw1500, switching frieght out of sveral of the sidings. This was quite an active little spur back in the day. They had Reading paint schemes on the locomotives.

A brakemen would release the coupler and ride on the ladder into the siding slowing the car or cars down while the switchman threw the switch and sent the cars in. It was quite a team effort and I would watch after class late in the afternoon. I do miss this old rail operation

T schmidt
Glenside, PA
11/22/2014

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I went to summer camp at Church Farm School a couple summers in the mid 1980s and remember an SW1500 (or something along those lines) but it was painted in Conrail colors.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
11/22/2014

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The section that runs thru Church Farm School now marks the extent of CFS property (nothing left in the valley) The right of way is now a very nice bike/running/walking track that runs from Ship Road to Rt 202 (as of 10/2014). Where the track crossed at Church Farm Rd is a parking lot with a historical marker for the railroad. When I resided at Strawbridge House you would occasionly hear a switcher go by at night.

Sean Sachs
Philadelphia , PA
12/22/2014

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I caught Conrail EMD's SW900 #8707 and GP10 (nee GP9) #7519 serving the spur off the Chester Valley Branch to a quarry, east of the Mill Lane crossing and station in 1985.

Gregory D. Pawelski
Wernersville, PA
12/22/2014

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There are still rails west of Quarry road at the Hansen quarry

Bill farrell
West chester, PA
3/6/2016

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Thank you Bill for that useful information.If i'm not mistaken this might have been mentioned before.

george oakley
reading, PA
3/7/2016

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