West Chester to Frazer

The West Chester Branch

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The end of the existing line seen here is the original West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad; today a portion of the line is operated as the R3 route of SEPTA. Photo by Joe Sharretts.

This abandoned railway line was built as an addition to the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad by the Pennsylvania Railroad when they purchased the WC&P in 1880; it extended from West Chester 6.2 miles north to the PRR's line in Frazer. While the original WC&P was electrified in the 1920s for passenger service between West Chester and Philadelphia, the remainder of the line was not electrified and only saw freight service.

Pennsylvania Railroad abandoned their segment of the line in 1960. The original WC&P line is still electrified and sees passenger service between Philadelphia and Elwyn as the R3 route of the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA. The remainder of the WC&P between Elwyn and West Chester ceased passenger operations in 1982 but still sees freight service.

I thought the wc to frazer line was built before the wc to phila...

Kate
exton, PA
12/22/2009

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I know a bit about this line back in PRR times. If I recall correctly, the Pennsylvania Railroad ran a shuttle train to Media from West Chester with their MP54 MU cars. At Media, passengers wishing to continue to Philadelphia had to transfer to a Media to Philadelphia train. In fact, I believe the Pennsylvania Railroad provided freight service along the line until the Penn Central merger and etcetera. In fact, just outside of West Chester at the U.S. 202/U.S. 322 overpass, the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad catenary supports still stand although the catenary has been removed. This is mostly because of vandals but SEPTA removed the remaining catenary.

Kris
Chester, PA
1/18/2010

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it appears to me that portions of the map are incorrect. It shows the northern terminus adjacent to immaculata and running parallel to King Rd. The line ran down the hill, crossing over Ravine Rd and then Lincoln highway. The bridge over Ravine road and much of the right of way in that area are still there. The lincoln highway bridge came down about 20 years ago.

Kevin Hughes
Exton, PA
6/22/2011

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Kevin, is right about the overhead bridge that crossed Lincoln Hgwy, I believed that it allowed the Reading RR to access the PRR main line via the Chester Valley Branch, however I am not sure. I will check it out in a few days and include pictures.

Shawn
West Chester, PA
2/9/2012

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I lived in this area in the late 1970's when I was a kid. I remember railroad bridges on (East) Boot Rd and Greenhill Rd. I also recall the last vestiges of a grade crossing on Ashbridge Rd. The rails were still in the pavement at that time.

T.O.
New Haven Cnty, CT
8/26/2012

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According to my Penn Central timetable from 1972,it lists engine restrictions between Frazer and Morestein.Plus crossings listed as Market st and Biddle street.Does anybody know when this line was abandoned?1960 seems a little premature.

jbb
reading , PA
2/22/2013

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The west chester line just re-opened another three miles for a scenic and freight (quarry) railway.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Chester_Branch#Restoration_of_service

So the map may need to be updated.

Joel
Wilmington, DE
3/13/2013

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Scratch that, looked up a bit more info- the information displayed is correct.

Joel
Wilmington, DE
3/13/2013

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i noticed abandoned rail and a bridge on this line.are they still there?please let me know.thank you.

george oakley
reading, PA
5/27/2013

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I grew up In West Chester on North Adams St. played on the tracks a lot. Trains ran deep into the 60's before the freight line was abandoned. I remember the train derailed one night under the Chestnut St Bridge. (since removed). Many coins flattened on the tracks, freight ran so slow we could run behind due to several street crossings. Fond childhood memories!

Mike Gale
Pennsylvania
6/16/2013

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so you remember the rail line?like i said,i was just wondering if everything that i saw on the map is still there.if possible,research what is still on the rail line and let me know what is still in place.thank you.

george oakley
quakertown, PA
6/16/2013

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I lived with my parents on North Adams St. in the early 1950's, between the Jones and Penrose families. A big thrill for me was to sneak out the backyard gate and stand on the Chestnut St. bridge as the steam locomotive passed under it and the smoke rolled up from under the bridge. I was about 4 at the time and would sneak back home thinking that no one would know where I was, but the smell of coal smoke was a dead giveaway. I think the diesel switchers showed up about 1953 or 1954. I also recall that the freight would sometimes take MP 54 cars or something like them north out of West Chester, probably destined for Paoli. A diesel switcher derailed just north of the high school on Christmas Eve in 1960 or 1961. Quite exciting. I know that regular freight service was in place in 1964 as I had a class at Henderson Sr. High that gave a great view of the morning southbound freight near the old School Bell. The train serviced the sand and gravel co. at Fern Hill, Schramms, the old Sharples plant, Wayne Feed, the team track at Chestnut St., the PE steam plant, Hoffman lumber, Hagerty coal, plus cars for the freight house. Later, a track was built into the Wyeth plant. The trolley line passed over the railroad on the Gay Street Bridge. Good memories.

Bill Stafford
Elkton, MD
6/20/2013

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TO is right about the bridges and rails. I grew up on Green Hill Ave, one street west of Ashbridge Rd. My childhood friend actually lived on the property where the line crossed Ashbridge Rd and went about 15 feet from his house. The removed the rails from Ashbridge sometime in the mid 1980's. The bridge over Boot Rd was removed in the early to mid 1980's because so many trucks were hitting it. I don't remember a bridge over Green Hill Rd, it may have been removed before my birth in 1976.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
10/28/2013

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thanks for the information.one of these days when i can i will have to physically check out the whole line when possible to see what is still left.you never know what you will find.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
10/29/2013

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George, I walked the line with my Father back in the late 1980's from somewhere off of Ship Rd north to the East-West Main Line. It was pretty interesting as the roadbed and in some cases ties were still intact.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
11/18/2013

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thanks jeff.i was just wondering what if anything is still left.being a rail buff i like to look at what might still be around.let me know if you hear or know of anything concerning this line like if any rail or bridges are still there.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
11/19/2013

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"The remainder of the WC&P between Elwyn and West Chester ceased passenger operations in 1982 but still sees freight service." That is incorrect. The entire line is still in service. SEPTA ceased Elwyn-West Chester passenger service on September 19, 1986; SEPTa uses the Elwyn-Lenni segment to train motormen, Amtrak accesses a quarry in Glen Mills, and heritage railway West Chester Railroad began operating in 1997. http://www.westchesterrr.net/

Paul Iverson
Phoenixville, PA
1/26/2014

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thanks for the info,paul.of course i would never walk on an active rail line to check it out.now i know where not to go.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
1/27/2014

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George,to the best of my knowledge the only bridges left are the rt 322 bypass in west chester.The rails ended just south of here untill the mid 80s at Ferhill.There is{or was}a bridge over Ravine road in Frazer near Immaculata college.

jbb
reading, PA
1/27/2014

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thanks,jbb.i do remember seeing those bridges on the website map.when i do eventuially get down there i would like to check them out mainly curiosity i guess.as for the rest of the rail line if there is anything on the ground it would have to be discovered.how interesting for whoever fonds it.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
1/28/2014

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If you follow Boot Rd to the intersection of Boot Rd and Kirkland Ave, there was a bridge there as previously discussed. This bridge crossing Boot Rd was struck numerous times by trucks until it was eventually removed in the mid 1980's. But if you follow Kirkland Ave in an east ward direction, the road make a 90 degree left hand turn. Straight ahead of you will be a large private residence. In the mid 1980's as a kid I did some yard work at this man's property occasionally and there were remains of the roadbed in place. I do remember some ties, but that was long ago. One more thing to add, if you look on Google maps at Ravine Rd in Frazer, Pa. Follow Ravine Rd north from King Rd and directly across from the stadium you'll see that Ravine Rd makes a sharp almost "S" bend in the road. That is where the bridge was. Its hard to see on Google because of the trees but you can faintly make out where the road bed was in the adjoining property south of that. Hope this helps, I'd like to explore that area again myself.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
1/28/2014

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Jeff/George,it might interest you to check out PennPilot[if you havent already}.I followed the line from West chester to Frazer going back to the 30s.Check it out its very interesting.

jbb
reading , PA
1/28/2014

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thanks,jbb.will do.

george oakley
reading, PA
1/29/2014

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jeff,as to what you said about the bridges,some of them do show up on the map,some do not.the only true way to make sure they are there is to physically see them which i plan on doing.thanks again for the info and keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
1/29/2014

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The overpass on Ravine Road is there..you can't stop and get a picture anywhere. You are next to a "cliff," or like a sheer rock face to your right, and private property to your left, coming from King Rd. When you drive Ravine Rd., its sort of a tunnel you go through, a rock tunnel, with a sharp dangerous curve. You used to have to honk your horn to warn approaching drivers on the other side. It can get foggy there and if you are unfamiliar with the road and driving too fast you'd smash right into a solid rock cliff. I drove this road to and from high school every day.

Further on down Ravine Road, as you approach Rt. 30, you go under two more railroad overpasses, tunneling underneath solid rock. My brother in law crashed into it one icy morning in the late 90s..

R Stephens
Frazer, PA
2/3/2014

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R Stephens, the Ravine Rd you are referencing is another Ravine Rd altogether and on a whole separate branch line altogether.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
2/3/2014

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You guys aren't talking about Ravine Rd. that runs adjacent to Immaculata College, from King Road to Phoenixville Pike and then Rt. 30? My bad.

R Stephens
Frazer
2/3/2014

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thanks guys for the info about the bridges.i will make sure to be careful and not crash into any of them when in the vicinity.keep in touch,.

george oakley
reading, PA
2/4/2014

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I went back to my old neighbor, Ashbridge Rd area where the line crossed. If you search Richard C Cloud Park on Google you can see the embankment where the line was. I was surprised to find that so much of the road bed was still there. Ballast and quite a few ties, although they are almost gone. Found some coal and slag.

Jeff Lisowski
San Diego, CA
4/23/2014

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thanks jeff.so what you are saying is basically nothing is left.oh well.so much for going there.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
4/24/2014

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This WC&P was the proposed first leg of the West Chester and Phoenixville RR, chartered in 1870. The West Chester and Philly ran east towards the Wawa Junction

James Price
West Chester then Phoenixville, PA
12/31/2014

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