Frazer to Thorndale

The Philadelphia and Thorndale Branch

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The Philadelphia and Thorndale cutoff crosses over the former PRR mainline in Exton, PA, via this huge trestle. Photo by Joe Sharretts.

This cut-off route, called the P&T for short, was built in 1906 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and parallels the PRR main line between Frazer and Thorndale, in PA. Running almost 13 miles, and double-tracked, it served local customers along the right-of-way, thereby freeing up the mainline for through traffic. Never straying too far from the mainline, it actually crossed over it via a huge trestle in Exton, PA, in order to serve customers on the other side.

It was abandoned and removed by Conrail in 1989. The mainline to which it connected is still in use by Norfolk Southern.

Thanks to Joe Sharretts for contributing information about this route.

Joe:

I don't recall when the abandonment was approved but, since I was working up there at the time I recall the last move over to Thornedale being in October 1990. The tracks stayed in till after '92. Nice job though.

RK
Central, VA
3/16/2010

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i see there are still bridges remaining.any use for the line that anyone knows about?please let me know.thank you.

george oakley
reading, PA
12/4/2012

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I lived on Collegeview Rd. in high school and frequented Ravine Rd. daily to get to school. There is a weird overpass/tunnel with a sharp curve just after the turnoff from King Rd. (you used to have to honk when you drove through it). Were there tracks over it at one point and where did they go? It is remarkable architecture. But its impossible to stop anywhere on Ravine Rd. and get a picture of it..it is a blind curve.

RS
Frazer, PA
1/31/2013

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Growing up, I spent a lot of time hanging out as a kid and watching freights on this line in the early '80's. The bridge in question being referred to as Exton, is actually Whitford. If I'm not mistaken, Whitford is actually a Village.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
1/19/2014

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Conrail removed catenary in early 1980s, dismantled tracks in 1992; Frazer-Whitford stretch of catenary poles also removed at that time. All bridges and disused signals remain in place. Though double-tracked, the line is not an easy walk because it is not maintained. No word on if it will become a trail or not. Awesome piece of infrastructure, though; typical of the PRR's tendency to overbuild for their low-grade lines.

Carroll Pratt
Bensalem, PA
2/3/2014

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thanks to everyone especially you carol for info on the rail line.i have not heard anything about a trail on this abandoned rail line but if anyone does hear anything about this rail line please let me know.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
2/4/2014

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I rode my motorcycle on this line from Thorndale to Frazer in the late 70's and on my Mountain bike.No rail to trails at that time. Very ruff to ride a mountain bike.

Fred J Miller
Honey Brook, PA
8/21/2014

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I walked this whole corridor multiple times in Spring 2013. Highlights include the twin tunnels over Valley Creek Road, the high trestle in Downtingtown, and the huge rock cuts approaching Thorndale. After the ice storms of 2014, the corridor is largely blocked with downed trees, and the trestle is fenced off for safety reasons owing to the construction going on below.

Carl Dobroski
Coatesville, PA
11/3/2014

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Worked for Conrail as a Trackman from 1975 to 1980. Operated a "Marmon Transmotive Tie Destroyer" in a Tie Gang the summer of 1976 on the P&T and have fond memories of working on the "high bridge" across 322. Also spent time inspecting track and traversing the entire length of the P&T and the Trenton Cut-Off during those years. Great memories and sad it's been abandoned for years.

B. Bailey
Malvern, PA
2/6/2015

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Hello forum,

I have two questions that I suspect you guys would find interesting. Firstly, how high is the highest point on the trestle over 322 in Downingtown? Second, how high is the viaduct over the Schuylkill river in Phoenixville that was part of the PRR Schuylkill Valley Branch? I made a bet with a friend that the trestle in Downingtown was almost twice as high as the viaduct in Phoenixville. Any answers?

Chris Hoops
Phoenixville, PA
7/18/2015

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Chris,are you talking about the brandywine valley viaduct on the abandoned prr rail line because if you are I would have to say it would be very close?I do know this because I did a lot of fishing above the viaduct that separates chester and Montgomery counties.To be definitely sure take a very long rope to use as a tape measure with a rock or something very heavy and measure them both.That is the only way I can see settling the bet.I would venture to say they are very close.Let me know who wins.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/19/2015

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Chris,if you do measure these bridges with a weighted rope,first be careful and second measure over water because roadways are usually higher.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/20/2015

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