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Newtown Square Railroad Museum 8/5/2018

by Chris Guenzler

Robin, Bob, Elizabeth and I left the Rodeway Inn and headed up Interstate 95 to Interstate 395, exiting at Highway 1 and made our way to the town of Newtown Square, where we found our first destination of the day.

Newtown Square Railroad Museum

The Newtown Square Freight station was constructed in 1895, shortly after the railroad line was built. It was located on the west side of Newtown Street Road (Rt. 252) and now Winding Way. This was also the site of the lumber and coal yard, plus a feed and grain store. A corral was located in back of the freight station to hold livestock for shipments to and from the farms in the area. Farmers would bring their horses to E.W. Powell, the veterinarian, and after being tended by him they would be shipped out by stock car. A passenger station was next to the freight station. It housed the post office and telegraph station for many years. The freight station was the end of the line, the last stop from Philadelphia.

Between 1895 and 1908, as many as thirteen trains a day pulled in and out of the Newtown Square station; the milk train, the mail train, and various freight and passenger trains. The passenger train made the trip out in the morning and returned to Philadelphia in the afternoon. The railroad ran its passenger service from 1895 to 1908, but its freight service operated into 1963, in the later years servicing mostly the lumberyard. There were ten stops. Eight of them were flag stops, along with the Llanarch and Newtown Square stations.

The freight station is the last vestige of the Newtown Square branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad freight and passenger line that once rumbled 9.2 miles through the township to Philadelphia.

To make room for the Winding Way by-pass road, the station was moved to its new home on the Drexel Lodge site on West Chester Pike. The Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society was pleased to have the opportunity to move and save this valuable piece of history. The Historical Society will start a complete restoration on May 11, 2000. They plan to use it as a railroad museum, preserving a piece of our history for future generations. In 2006 it was transferred to the Newtown Square Penn Railroad Museum Association.

Newtown Square Pennsylvania Railroad Days

The rail line from Broad Street Station to Newtown Square was completed in 1894. It was 19 miles in length. After it left Philadelphia it traversed Upper Darby, Haverford, Marple, Radnor and Newtown Townships. It spelled the opening of transportation to central Delaware County for both passenger and freight from Philadelphia. Passenger Service ran from 1894 to 1908 while the freight service to Newtown Square lasted until 1965, and to Haverford until 1985. At this time the rail line was abandoned, the track and all the buildings were removed except for a freight station at the end of the line in Newtown Square. In 1999 a group of members of the Newtown Square Historical Society decided to save this pieced of local history. After many problems since it lay in the path of a new highway it was moved to the Drexel Lodge Park. Here it was restored and two tracks were laid 200 feet long alongside the station. Four rail cars were obtained to try to simulate for future generations the legacy of the "Iron Horse" that helped develop our townships and nation. Today the Museum and cars are open. It is the intent to develop a program for school children.

History of the Rail Cars

The Steam Engine: It is a 1920 yard locomotive built by the American Locomotive works. It worked in Syracuse, New York until 1950 then for a short time elsewhere and finally it just and rusted away. The Museum obtained it in 2002 and has restored it to look like an engine of the 1890's. It never actually ran on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The Passenger Car: It was built in 1902 in the West Philadelphia shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad. There were 600 built that year and this is their last remaining one. After service with the Pennsy it was sold to the Canadian National Railway. Finally in 1975, The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit gave it to our museum. We are working on its Restoration.

The Caboose: The Pennsylvania Railroad built this car in 1950. We obtained it from a local group in New Brunswick, New Jersey and have restored it. Today cabooses are no longer used on freight trains due to advancing modern technology.

The Box Car: This care we believe was built in 1907. It is wooden and typical of the kind that was used on our freight line to Newtown Square. This car was given to us by the National Park Service's Railroad Museum called Steamtown located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Our Visit

When we arrived at the park, all the gates were locked so learning from our experience at Crewe, Virginia, we made do with shooting through the fence again. Not the best solution, but the only solution in this case.

The sign for this museum as seen from the highway as we pulled in.

SEPTA "PCC" car 23 built in 1949 by St. Louis Car Company. This is not a true PCC car.

The Newtown Square freight station built in 1895.

Pennsylvania Railroad coach 1444 built in 1902 by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The other side of SEPTA 23.

Solvay Process Works 0-4-0T 45 built by Alco in 1920.

Informational signs about this railroad museum.

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 478131 built in 1951 by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Pennsylvania Railroad boxcar, number unknown, built in 1907.

Museum view. From here we made our way to McDonald's for breakfast then we took US30 which we exited at Coatesville and made our way to the National Steel Museum for a small railroad display.

Florida Paint and Turpentine 0-4-0ST 10 built in 1911 by Porter and is a thirty-six inch gauge engine.

The steel factory train cars.

Two more views of the steam engine. From here we drove to Kinzers to the grounds of the Rough and Tumble Steam Threshers. We looked for a gate but they were all locked when I noticed there was a steam engine in a car barn right along the fence line so we stopped and held our cameras over the fence to get our pictures.

Rough and Tumble 4-4-0 1 is a fifteen inch gauge built in 1958 by Crown Metals. They also own a Shay locomotive but we did not see it, so we felt lucky to see one of their two engines. Next we drove to Strasburg and dropped Bob off so he could enjoy a day at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum and the Strasburg Railroad while Robin, Elizabeth and I drove back to West Chester for our next train ride of the trip.