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College Hill P&LE Train Station - Beaver Falls PA

The P&LE was formed by a group of Pittsburgh businessman in 1875 to rival the Pennsylvania Railroad system in western Pennsylvania. The line ran from Pittsburgh east to Connellsville and also north via New Castle to the Youngstown area. When the P&LE began operations in 1879 it was minor player in the freight hauling business, but its proximity to the coal, coke, iron ore, steel, and limestone industries in the region quickly elevated its status. Before long it was a great success and became known as the “Little Giant.” The P&LE eventually laid a double track along its mainline up the west bank of the Beaver River and all the way to Youngstown.

The P&LE was primarily a freight hauler but the company also instituted passenger service as well. In the early 1880’s the P&LE built a two-story passenger station near the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge at the extreme southern end of Beaver Falls. This station served travelers from both Beaver Falls and neighboring New Brighton. Similar passenger stations in the region were also opened to include those at West Ellwood Junction, Rock Point, Wampum, Newport, West Pittsburg, New Castle Junction, New Castle, Covert’s Crossing, and Edinburg. The P&LE also built a rail yard, which included a small roundhouse, in Beaver Falls in the vicinity of Eleventh Street along the Beaver River.

Beginning in about August 1905 the P&LE began constructing a new rail yard in the Borough of College Hill. College Hill was established in 1892 from the growing neighborhood around Geneva College. The college was founded in Northwood, Ohio, in 1848, but had relocated to Beaver County in 1880 after property was donated by the Harmony Society. The new rail facility, costing $50,000 and known as the College Yard, featured an eight-stall roundhouse with a seventy-foot turntable, a water plant, a coaling station, and storage facilities. Steam locomotives of the P&LE would stop at the siding there and load up with coal and water or be sent to the roundhouse if repairs were needed.

In 1910 the P&LE opened another passenger station adjoining the rail yard at College Hill. It was designed by Pittsburgh-based architect Joseph Ladd Neal and sat just north of the old Eastvale Bridge. The College Hill station was in use for many years, utilized by Geneva College students and area residents, and remained so despite a general decline in railroad passenger service beginning in the 1920’s. The area of College Hill continued to grow and was officially annexed to become the northern part of Beaver Falls in January 1930. About two years later the B&O leased trackage rights on the P&LE stretch from New Castle Junction to McKeesport and possibly made stops at the College Hill passenger station as well.

Over time the P&LE began shutting some down its passenger stations and did so with the New Brighton-Beaver Falls station – probably in the early 1960’s. Most of the other passenger stations in the region, and the rail facility at College Hill, were all closed within the coming decade. The P&LE, concentrating on freight operations, continued to run but slowly died along with the once-vibrant steel industry it served.

The College Hill station remained open as the last remaining passenger station on the entire P&LE line, providing daily service to and from Pittsburgh. The station was finally closed on Friday, July 12, 1985, as the P&LE ran the last passenger train over its tracks from College Hill to the Pittsburgh station at Smithfield Street (now Station Square). In September 1992 the P&LE was merged into CSX Transportation, a company formed in 1980 by the merger of several railroad entities, and ceased to exist.

The College Hill station was shuttered and simply abandoned. Over the years the building, seemingly hidden in a secluded area near the Merriman Athletic Complex, has steadily deteriorated due to general neglect, harsh weather, and vandalism. The adjoining roundhouse, yard facilities, and track sidings were dismantled some time ago. Large storage buildings sit on the site of the former roundhouse and the old siding is slated to become an extension of the Beaver River Trail, a “Rails to Trails” project opened in April 2006. The passenger depot has been spared demolition unlike so many other similar stations, but has not been as fortunate as the West Pittsburg station – which was purchased by a historical group in 2005 and is currently undergoing restoration. The future of the College Hill station is a big question mark. If something isn’t done soon it will be lost to the ravages of time.


In 1910 the P&LE opened this passenger station adjoining its rail yard at College Hill. The College Hill station was in use for many years, utilized by Geneva College students and area residents, and remained so despite a general decline in railroad passenger service beginning in the 1920’s. The station remained open as the last remaining passenger station on the entire P&LE line, providing daily service to and from Pittsburgh. It was finally closed on Friday, July 12, 1985, as the P&LE ran the last passenger train over its tracks from College Hill to the Pittsburgh station at Smithfield Street (now Station Square). The station currently sits abandoned. (c1915) Full Size


A great photo showing the P&LE station at College Hill (dark building) next to the old Eastvale Bridge. At the upper right corner you can see the small roundhouse that was part of the P&LE railyard next to the station. At the top you can see part of the Armstrong Cork plant, which was closed in 1973 and later became part of the sports complex at Geneva College. (Photo courtesy of Bill Cwynar) (c1958) Full Size


In 1910 the P&LE opened this passenger station next to the existing rail yard at College Hill. It was designed by Pittsburgh-based architect Joseph Ladd Neal and sat just north of the Eastvale Bridge. (c1930) Full Size


A postcard showing the small railyard and roundhouse facility next to the P&LE train station at College Hill. The Old Main building on the Geneva College campus is visible in upper left. (c1905) Full Size


A PL&E train rolls by the rail yard at College Hill. (1925) Full Size


A view of the small round house at College Hill. (1925) Full Size


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Comment

  1. Who owns this?

    Maria · 07/29/2014 12:11 PM · #

  2. Doesn’t someone have a desire to restore this building to it’s original beauty ?

    I belong to the Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society and we own the P&LE West Pittsburg Passenger Station. We are currently restoring our Station. We have a long way to go but we are making progress. Our website is blrhs.org. We would like to have any new members who can help either physically or financially. Also any old postcards or pictures of these fine, old Stations would be appreciated.

    Carl Kinkade · 09/17/2014 06:50 AM · #

  3. does anyone have old old photos of e north st in new castle pa

    ernie · 04/30/2015 10:21 AM · #

  4. Here are some more pictures of the train station I took a few weeks ago.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/80840114@N07/albums/72157664368341840

    Brandon Taylor · 03/01/2016 09:30 AM · #

  5. Here are some more pictures of the train station I took a few weeks ago.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/80840114@N07/albums/72157664368341840

    Brandon · 03/01/2016 09:30 AM · #

  6. Unfortunately, College Station burned down on 6/19/2017. It was a suspicious fire, but I highly doubt anyone is going to ruffle any feathers over an abandoned building. Sad to see it go.

    Jeffrey Snedden · 06/22/2017 08:39 PM · #