Chester Creek Branch

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The Chester Creek Branch was a 7.25-mile (11.67 km) railroad line that operated in southern Delaware County, Pennsylvania, from 1869 to 1972.

Built by the Chester Creek Railroad, it was originally operated and leased by the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad, then by a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and finally, for a few years, by PRR successor Penn Central. It connected the Lamokin Street station in Chester to Lenni station in Middletown Township.

The branch diverged from the Northeast Corridor main line near SEPTA's now-defunct Lamokin Street Station. At Lenni, the branch merged with the West Chester Branch, once a segment of today's SEPTA Media/Elwyn Line.


The rail line was built by the Chester Creek Railroad, which was chartered in 1866 and began service in 1869.[1] Its route paralleled Chester Creek from Lenni (at a junction with the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad (WC&P)) southeast to Upland, where it veered south, ending at Lamokin Street and a junction with the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PW&B). The Chester Creek line was operated and leased by the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad (owner of the WC&P), which owned the locomotives and rolling stock.[2]

In 1916, the Pennsylvania Railroad took control of the line as well as the rest of the P&BC through its subsidiary, the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad (successor to the PW&B).[3] In 1941, the branch had these stations:[4]

Locality Milepost Station Lat/long Notes/Connections
Lenni 0.0 Lenni 39°53′39″N 75°26′55″W / 39.8942°N 75.4486°W / 39.8942; -75.4486 Currently used as a SEPTA training base; has a passing siding. Station demolished.
West Chester & Chester Creek Branches split
Chester Twp. Bridgewater
Upland Upland
Lamokin Run Branch & Chester Creek Branches split
7.25 Lamokin Street 39°50′31″N 75°22′32″W / 39.8420°N 75.3756°W / 39.8420; -75.3756 Closed by SEPTA in 2003
Line abandoned in 1972

The branch became part of Penn Central (PC) in 1968, when the PRR merged with its longtime rival, the New York Central Railroad.

The Chester Creek Branch and the Octoraro Branch were damaged by a flash flood in September 1971, then hit again the following year by Hurricane Agnes. This spelled the end of service on the line, because the PC, which had declared bankruptcy in 1970, chose not to repair it.

When the PC was taken over by Conrail, the defunct line was excluded. In the late 1970s, the line was deeded to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) by a PC holding company named American Premier Underwriters.[5] SEPTA, which took control of all commuter rail services in the Philadelphia area in 1983, chose not to repair the line.

Rail trail[edit]

As of 2009, 90 percent of the line was intact.[5] In 2005, SEPTA leased it for 30 years to Friends of the Chester Creek Branch, a local group that has proposed to convert the line into a rail trail between the dormant Lenni Station and the town of Upland.[6] As of 2010, government grants have been awarded for the first phase of the trail project, and engineering design work is underway.[7]

While SEPTA retains ownership and the right to restore rail service, Byron Comati, the agency’s director of strategic planning and analysis, said in 2010, "SEPTA has no plans, long-range or otherwise, to reclaim the Chester Creek Line right-of-way for public transit use."[5]

Friends of the Chester Creek Branch has received funding and approval for construction of a 2.8 mile segment of a rail trail, with construction expected to begin in mid-2015. The successful construction bidder was announced by March 2015. The trail's first phase opened on December 24, 2016. [8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, William B. (1895). History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates & Co. p. 328. 
  2. ^ Poor, H.V. (1885). Poor's Manual of Railroads. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor. p. 327. 
  3. ^ Poor's Intermediate Manual of Railroads. New York: Poor's Manual Co. 1917. p. 226. 
  4. ^ November 1, 1941 PRR map
  5. ^ a b c Roman, John M. (February 21, 2010). "County's rails-to-trails initiatives started slowly, but are making progress". Delco Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Friends of the Chester Creek Branch. Aston, PA. "Chester Creek Rail Trail." Accessed 2010-12-31
  7. ^ Delaware County Planning Department. Media, PA. (2010)."Bicycle Commuting Route Through Delaware County Upgraded." Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Planning Matters. Issue 14. pp.3-4.
  8. ^ Lou Hufnagle, Delaware County Planning Department

External links[edit]

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