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History

Over 160 years ago when most people in this country had never seen or heard of a Railroad, the businessmen and community leaders of West Chester, PA. chartered the "West Chester Railroad Company." It became one of the nation's earliest railroads through an act in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1831. A quarter century later, West Chester got its second railroad, the "West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad," which opened on November 11, 1858. Both became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system by 1881, when they were known as the "Frazer branch" and "Media branch," respectively.


For the next eighty-nine years, the Market Street station was West Chester's gateway to the world. Generations of Borough residents and businesses sent their produce to market, their sons to war, and their fathers and mothers to work and shop in the "big stores" in Philadelphia. In return, the railroad brought students to the State College, lumber to the wagon wheel works, merchandise to the stores and ordinary people to the County Seat to conduct business at the Court House. At its height, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated 24 passenger trains to West Chester each day, plus three scheduled freights and additional special trains as required.

Although the Market Street station was demolished in 1968, Penn Central and SEPTA continued to carry passengers until 1986. For a nearly decade, the line remained unused until a group of railroad enthusiasts approached the Borough of West Chester about restoring service. Today the new West Chester Railroad Company is owned and operated by 4 States Railway Service Inc., a Railroad management, maintenance and operations company which is dedicated to preserving the "Media branch" of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Thanks to their efforts, one of the nation's oldest "Fallen Flags" now flies again, bringing rail service back to West Chester!


1864 West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad Pass
Courtesy of Fred Heilich
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