This abandoned railway line was built in 1894 by the Philadelphia and Delaware County Railroad in order to serve both passenger and freight needs in the area. Originally intended for destinations beyond Newtown Square, PA, the P&DC never made it past. It was quickly leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad, who operated it under their Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad subsidiary.
The line was popular with locals, with as many as 13 trains a day arriving/departing the station at the end of the line in Newtown Square. After passenger service ended in 1908 (with passenger service tapering off to the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company nearby), freight service continued into the 1960s.
In 1900, an additional branch line off the P&DC, the Cardington Branch, was built to access the Cardington Mills at Millbourne.
The Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the line outright in December of 1913. The line was cut back to Eagle Road in the 1960s, while the remainder of the line fell into disuse by 1981; abandonment of the line came in 1983, and the tracks were removed in 1985.
They have since removed the bridge that crossed the Baltimore Pike in Lansdowne where the branch almost began. Back in the very early 80's, my cousin (who lived in Lansdowne) and I would walk the tracks across that bridge and along the spurs that served the local business.
Even in the early 80's, there was still a lot of rail activity. I miss those days !!
The Cardington branch used to continue past the mills, go under Market St and connect with the Phila and Western RR (which is now the modern day Septa route 100 Norristown high speed line.
I have a map of Philadelphia and its outlying counties from 1893. It shows what later became the Newtown Square branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. On the map, though, it wasn't all built yet; what's odd is that it shows the branch as being built from the west, from West Chester. As of 1893, it ran from West Chester to a spot a mile or so north of Broomall, Pennsylvania. From Broomall east to Fernwood, it shows the branch as planned but not built (dashed lines). The name on the map reads "Chester Rail Road". Does anybody know anything about this? The map shows that the tracks were built, and, I presume, active, in 1893.
I lived a short distance from the Newtown Square branch in Havertown, did some research and there was a PRR right-of-way proposed for a "low-grade" freight line from Darby Creek through Haverford Township to the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. This was to meet up with another right-of-way headed from Darby Creek to Devon. The Newtown Square branch was running parallel to the proposed freight line from Darby Creek to Manoa Road (where the proposed line went northeast). The proposed line was dropped sometime in the 1920's but you can see the right of way in the 1940 Census maps of Haverford Township.
i looked on the map and i thought i saw a bridge in the water off of garrett rd.does anyone know if this is true or are mt eyes playing tricks on me?anyone knows please let me know.thanks.
Back in 1963, I used to ride with my sister and her husband-to-be from Baltimore up to Philadelphia for a Drexel class on Saturday morning. We traveled using US1, and State Road from US1 over to West Chester Pike. I remember this line crossing State Road and thought it was possibly part of the Octoraro line which paralled US1 farther south. Wasn't until I checked these lines out on this site that I realized they were actually different lines altogether. Never did see a train at State Rd. on those Saturday trips, however I recall the rails still being shiny.
seems like everyone i talk to about this line and for example the chester creek branch never see anty trains on the tracks.weird,huh?well anyway what i am interested in is what will be done to the rail line in the future.if anybody hears anything,please let me know.keep in touch.
Presently there are a lot of pictures of this line in use in the baggage car at the railroad museum , west of Newtown Square on West Chester pike
thank you for the information.keep in touch.
I grew up in Newtown Square in the 50's and 60's. We saw many trains passing along the tracks toward Powell's Lumber Yard,its terminus just to the west.We put pennies and nails on the tracks to see them squashed. We also walked over several trestles, some rather high. I was in my early teens when the trains ceased operation in our area--about 1963. The area is still elevated and you can see where the tracks ran.
when i was growing up in quakertown,we used to put pennies on the rails just like you did.we thought that was cool at the time.sid,do you remember where the trestles were because just like antybody i am curious if they are still there?let me know.thanks.by the way i do not know if you heard that septa might have to either shut down or cut back service on the fox chase line.that would really stink.know what i mean?keep in touch if you hear anything about this rail line thanks again.
The trestles in Newtown Square are now gone. There were a couple rather small ones near the pond on Winding Way, but the huge one was just before you got to Bryn Mawr Avenue. It was very tall and imposing and it was a real test for a 9 or 10 year old. Those ties seemed very far apart with nothing underneath. Once past it, the one over Bryn Mawr Ave. was a breeze. We usually made our way down to the quarry which was near Rt. 320 in Broomall and just off to the right of the tracks.
thanks sid for the info on the trestles.as for the rail line itself it looks like it might take some footwork to see what is left.keep in touch.
when i was a kid (mid 1990s) you could still find rails of the Cardington Branch along Cobbs Creek between Marshall Road and Market Street. Not sure if you can still find them now, they were partially buried in mud even then and there's been several floods since.
I grew up on Delaware Ave in Upper Darby, the B & O RR ran past my house a few times a day, my Parents bought the house in '53, our house would vibrate when it passed, we would make the jester to the conductor to blow the horn & he would, great memories & gtrat times.
The PRR used the Newtown Square and Cardington Branch lines in 1963 to deliver the former Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee (North Shore Line) "Electroliners" to the Philadelphia & Western before their refurbishment and use as the "Libertyliners".
We moved to Newtown Square in 1954 from Southwest Philly. My favorite memory of life then was getting home from school around 3pm and hearing the Baldwin VO 1000 burbling across the Bryn Mawr Ave trestle headed toward Powell's Lumber yard. We lived less than a mile from there so I'd race on my bike up our street and down Winding Way to 252, watching the short freight cross 252 and then go to work at the lumber yard. The engineer got to know me so would invite me into the cab during the switch moves and drop me off at my bike when they were done. Our acre of property ended at the single track so in the winter, trees bare, I could watch the train going to and coming from Powell's. It was usually engine, cabin car and 4 or 5 freight cars, some loaded for Powell Lumber. Returning to Philly it was engine, freight cars, cabin car.
I was born and raised one block from the line on Princeton Rd Havertown PA. In the 50's I as far back as I can remember the little trains would come to the local business and service them coal, fuel oil, scrap mental,lumber and sugar to the gum factory there in Havertown. I walked those tracks countless times. The rail was lite gauge 85 or 90 lbs. The big trestles west of Eagle Rd were all removed in the early and mid 1960's a few small bridges remained until they fell apart or were destroyed. As fate had it I ended up working for the RR stating in 1974 and was the Rail Road signal inspector who took the highway signal crossings out of service at Garret Rd Upper Darby and met with the Haverford Towship manager and had the Signal crossing foundations removed at West Chester Pike this was in the early 1980's. I have since moved away and am retired as I look back a large amount of tracks and lines and branches and many large companies are all gone and are not coming back.