The Delaware River and Lancaster Railroad

French Creek Junction to Saint Peters, PA

The Delaware River and Lancaster Railroad was chartered in 1868 to build a railway line between the Delaware River in New Jersey and Lancaster, PA. Construction on the line started at Phoenixville, PA (at French Creek Junction and a connection with The Pickering Valley Railroad, near Kimberton, PA) and headed west for about 12 miles along French Creek to Saint Peters. There, the DR&L connected to the end of The Warwick Branch via a switchback.

Also known as the "Sowbelly Railroad", the DR&L ultimately lost money during its operation and was eventually abandoned in 1893, just 5 years after being built; the tracks themselves were pulled up a year later.

—  User Comments  —

Started walking sections of the Sow Belly RR. today 10/20/12. With Dave Zinny. Very rough going through heavy brush. We started at the covered bridge by Mill Lane W Seven Stars Rd. and went north for about 1 mile.

Next week we will do another section starting at the Camphill School.

Rick Wolf
Phoenixville , PA
10/20/2012

Did another section of the Sow Belly RR with Dave Zinii along French Creek off of the Camphill School property. We found the spot where the railroad crossed French Creek. Did the hike on 11/03/12

Richard Wolf
Phoenixville , PA
11/9/2012

I'm pretty sure the Sow Belly connected St. Peters Village to Kimberton? Following rt 23 over 100 ?

md
valley forge, PA
8/7/2013

Yes MD you are correct about the extent of the Sowbelly RR being from Kimberton to St Peters. The rest of the line was never built, although apparently the entire route was surveyed (from Point Pleasant on the Delaware to Lancaster, PA) and possibly some surveying was done in NJ as well.

Dave Zinni
Ardmore, PA
12/3/2013

does anyone have any pictures of the Sowbelly railroad? any pictures from Saint Peters Village area of the trains?

Or any info regardind this old train line?

Peter Melle
Saint Peters, PA, PA
1/23/2015

RDG Warwick Branch and the Delaware River & Lancaster Railroad.

https://www.facebook.com/gregory.pawelski.9/media_set?set=a.678760272243597.1073741902.100003288929249&type=3

Gregory D. Pawelski
Wernersville, PA
1/31/2015

I did the hike from warwick to Elverson,about 2 miles.

on the way I saw an old train station along the railroad bed.

skip
warwick, PA
3/1/2015

Try to get a copy of: Sowbelly Railroad: The Delaware River and Lancaster Railroad by James Lockart

Cal Roth
Morrison, CO
7/24/2015

Where might I find the book: Sow Belly Railroad by James Lockart? Thank you.

p. charlier
malvern, PA
8/14/2018

UPDATE: still looking for the 2008 book by James Lockart called: The SowBelly Railroad. Does anyone know where I could get a copy? Thanks

p. charlier
MALVERN, PA
5/15/2019

With regard to "still looking for the 2008 book by James Lockart called: The SowBelly Railroad": (1) The ranger station in Warwick County Park had one available for viewing. (2) The Saucony Book shop seems to have a copy (somewhat at a premium) https://www.sauconybookshop.com/quicksearch/all/Delaware%20River%20and%20Lancaster. If you are interested, I live fairly close to Warwick Park, so we could meet sometime and checkout bits and peices.

Jeremy K
Chester Springs, PA
8/7/2019

I have a copy of the James Lockart book called: The SowBelly Railroad". It's in black and white except for Appendix which is in color. It's signed "God Bless Your Journey, Ranger Jim". I am good friends with Clyde Scheib who is referenced in book in "Acknowledgements". Clyde's grandfather rode on the Sowbelly train. (P.111) Sorry, but it's not for sale, it's too valuable.

If I could locate author and get permission, I could digitize book and put on Amazon.com so it could be read (with Kindle or other reader) by a wider audience.

Brian
Kimberton, PA
9/13/2019

West Seven Stars and Beyond: Preserving Local History https://www.amazon.com/dp/1706215436/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_5aS-DbT794PFT

BWilde
Phoenixville, PA
12/18/2019

Sorry to report but James Lockart passed away back in 2015. I was very good friends with him, in fact, he and I worked on the book for the DR&LRR. The part of the line that was built ran from Kimberton Junction to the Falls of French Creek (St. Peter's) a sum of 10.6 miles. In the book that Jim wrote, you will see my name listed on page 44. The illustration of French Creek Junction. And in the very back of the book, you'll see color photography. I'm in the one photo with my Railroad tool scooter, and the photo of Jim dressed as a hobo, I took. That photo was taken down on the Pennsylvania Railroad over on the Northside of Phoenixville. The photo on the back of the book is with Jim on the back of a caboose, that was taken at Wanamaker Kempton and Southern, he's standing on a Reading Caboose. I also took that photo.

Leonard F. Shaner, Jr.
Pottstown, PA
3/11/2020

Is there a map of the actual route of the line? Or an overlay of a present day map with the li e on it?

Jake
Pottstown , PA
3/17/2020

There really isn't any real good maps. Sorry to report.

I am working on a revision to Jim's Sow Belly Book. I have found newer information through Google that wasn't available back when we were working on the book. Of course the book will in the decoration in Jim's memory.

Railway World, Volume 37 - 1893

The French Creek branch was at first operated by the Delaware River and Lancaster company, in connection with the Reading railroad. Afterward, it was sold by the Sheriff of Chester county, and purchased by the Wilmington and Northern Railroad Company, who have a branch extending east to French Creek Falls; but this company recently ceased running trains on the road because the line did not pay.

The Rest you'll have to wait till the book is completed.

Leonard S
Pottstown, PA
3/17/2020

There are aerial maps of the Sowbelly Delaware River & Lancaster Railroad from the 1937 Penn Pilot. There are eight in total. Clyde Scheib has a chapter called "Living with Sowbelly" where he put some of his materials on Sowbelly. He was knew the author and added to his book. He can view the Sowbelly line remnants right from his living room! His book is on Amazon.com, called "West Seven Stars and Beyond: Preserving Local History." Full disclosure, I published the book. But back to the maps, I tried placing the Penn Pilot maps on this message, but the message board appears not to support attachments. Also check out Gregory D. Pawelski excellent link above. It may be a broken link but I believe you can still find it on Facebook.

Here is the timetable where you can see the route (also in Clyde's book):

- French Creek Junction (Pickering Valley RR connection)

9:15 Heistand

9:35 Wilson's Corner

9:40 Vincent or Red Hill

9:42 Sheeder

9:45 Boreaf (Cook's Glen)

9:51 Roberts

9:55 Pughtown

10:03 Coventry

10:11 Knauertown

10:15 French Creek Falls

- Saint Peter's (Warwick Branch connection)

Brian
Kimberton, PA
3/18/2020

I am interested in where it crossed 23 and how it made the grade into St Peters

Jake
Pottstown , PA
3/18/2020

The Sow Belly crossed 23 at or above the old Cook Farm.

Leonard S
Pottstown, PA
3/20/2020

This is where the Delaware River and Lancaster (French Creek Branch) cross French creek at Kenndy and where the spur began for Kimberton Farms School as you see spur crossing the creek on a straightaway.

Photography from 1937.

https://scontent.fphl2-4.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/s960x960/89824890_10216521358523193_7644469744480813056_o.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_sid=ca434c&_nc_ohc=sGg5OPaDZKEAX8qwGEG&_nc_ht=scontent.fphl2-4.fna&_nc_tp=7&oh=f76fa91c6a3ec4d5788842b0c3f7f090&oe=5E9B846E

Leonard S
Pottstown, PA
3/20/2020

With respect to the St Peters/Route 23 question: This map (http://www.andysantiqueatlases.com/images/PA/1934ChesterCountyVol_2/Plate%209.pdf) shows the old RR line on the bottom right. In current terms, that's roughly Sunrise Drive from the Rock Road End. As far as crossing 23, it would be just slightly east of the Warwick County Park North Access (off Rt 23) parking area. If I recall correctly, if you walked up the hill about 1/2 to the top (east on Rt 23) on the north side of 23, you could still see a bit of the embankment (especially if there was a light snow covering).

The "North Loop Trail" in Warwick Park is on the old roadbed (toward the Mount Pleasant parking area).

Jeremy K
Chester County, PA
4/5/2020