In 1838 the village of Enon Valley, usually translated to mean “Valley of Many Waters,” was laid out in Little Beaver Township in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Enon Valley became a stop along an established stagecoach line between Beaver, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland, Ohio, and a thriving little settlement flourished at that location. Enon Valley soon became part of Lawrence County when that new entity was created from parts of Beaver and Mercer Counties in March 1849.
The Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad (O&P) was organized in 1848 to link Allegheny City (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, with central Ohio, where it would link up with another line to reach points much further west. By late 1849 the railroad was completed up through Beaver County and the southwest corner of Lawrence County before banking off westward into Ohio.
By November 1851 a stop on the O&P was established south of the existing village of Enon Valley, and a small settlement known as Enon Station (or “New” Enon Valley) quickly sprung up around it. Hotels, homes, churches, and schools were built in the next few years and eventually the “Old” Enon Valley was basically vacated as the “New” Enon Valley came into local prominence. The lobby of the St. Lawrence Hotel actually served as the train station for many years – and was essentially the first ever passenger station opened in Lawrence County. Other stops on the O&P were established at New Brighton, Beaver Falls, Homewood Junction, Darlington, New Galilee, and East Palestine in Ohio.
The O&P was the first railroad in operation in Lawrence County and the Enon Valley stop served as the primary railroad access point for New Castle and surrounding areas until the mid-1860’s. When many of the young men of Lawrence County went off to fight in the Civil War (1861-1865) they boarded trains at Enon Valley.
The area east of Enon Valley was the scene of a terrible train accident at about 4:23pm on January 1, 1856, as a westbound passenger train (totaling five cars carrying 100 people) collided head-on with an eastbound freight train. The snow-covered scene was strewn with burning debris, twisted metal, and injured people. Two men were hastily dispatched to the telegraph office at Enon Valley to call for help, and a train was dispatched from New Brighton to render assistance. Three people died and several dozen were seriously injured.
In July 1856 the O&P and several other railroads were merged to form the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railway (PFW&C), with funding provided by the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). A railroad bridge was also built across the Allegheny River and the line was extended into Pittsburgh proper. The PFW&C was reorganized and greatly expanded and the PRR eventually took over its operations by 1871. For many years this railroad route, essentially linking Pittsburgh to Chicago, was often referred to as the “Fort Wayne Line” of the PRR.
In 1877 a dedicated train station (replacing the lobby of the St. Lawrence Hotel) was finally erected in Enon Valley. That station remained in active operation for the PRR for many decades. A general decline in passenger train service began with the widespread use of the automobile and more economical bus service beginning in the 1920’s. By 1930, as the Great Depression began its stranglehold on the nation, the station at Enon Valley was no longer the hub of activity it once was. The PRR closed the old station, located on modern-day Depot Street, in mid-September 1932. It was razed about two decades later.
This dedicated passenger station was opened in Enon Valley in 1877. Prior to it being built the lobby of the St. Lawrence Hotel was utilized as a train station. (1910)
Another old photo of the Enon Valley train station, which served the local area until it was closed in 1932. (c1908) Full Size
A closeup of the old train station in Enon Valley. The facade on the left side reads “1877.” (Photo courtesy of Patrick Lindner) (c1910) Full Size
In the early 1900’s the PRR operated a small rail yard and maintenance facility just across from the train station in Enon Valley. (Patrick Lindner photo) (c1910) Full Size
In this photo you can see the rail yard on the left and the train station on the right. (c1911) Full Size
The former site of the train station and rail yard in Enon Valley, as seen as you cross the tracks on Route 551 (Main Street). (May 2013) Full Size