In early 1902 about 600 acres of property comprising the old village of East Moravia in Taylor Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, was purchased by Pittsburgh-area business John W. Garland. There were about a hundred homes and several large farms on the property, which was situated on the east bank of the Beaver River. The new settlement of West Pittsburg was laid out with hopes of establishing the area as a major manufacturing center. The settlement had an advantage as it was already served by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE) and Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) lines. The expansive railroad yards at New Castle Junction were also just nearby to north.
The P&LE was the most prominent railroad in West Pittsburg and was formed by a group of Pittsburgh businessman back in 1875 to rival the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) 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 1880 the P&LE built a two-story passenger station in nearby Wampum and eventually built stations at other locations such as West Ellwood Junction, Rock Point, and Newport. I believe the P&LE had a small station of some sort at West Pittsburg in the early 1900’s, but in 1907 decided to build a much larger passenger station at that location. This new station opened in about May 1908. This train station, sandwiched in between the tracks of the P&LE and the B&O, was a busy place as West Pittsburg was in the midst of steady growth as many factories and plants sprung up within its confines.
The West Pittsburg station was in use for many years and remained so despite a general decline in railroad passenger service beginning in the 1920’s. Over time the P&LE began shutting some down its passenger stations and did so with the West Pittsburg and Wampum stations in 1964. The West Pittsburg station was sold to a private interest in 1968 and put in use as a storage facility for some time. Over the years the building steadily deteriorated due to general neglect, the harsh weather, and mindless vandals. In September 1992 the P&LE merged into CSX Transportation, a company formed in 1980 by the merger of several railroad entities, and ceased to exist.
In March 2005, the Beaver Valley Junction Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, now known as the Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society (BLRHS), came to the rescue. They purchased the old station with hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Painstaking restoration efforts have been underway for some time with eventual plans to open the station to the general public as a railroad museum. The group already has shown its mettle in similar efforts, such as restoring the old UN Tower from West Pittsburg – which now sits proudly along Cherry Street in Mahoningtown. Hopefully one day the station will once again welcome folks into its once-beautiful interior.
The P&LE’s former train station at West Pittsburg may have long since closed, but daily freight trains of the CSX and Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad (BPRR) still lumber alongside both sides of it as a reminder of the good ole days.
To read about the planned opening of the West Pittsburg station set for May 1908 click on: NEW DEPOT WILL BE READY ARTICLE.
The large P&LE train station opened in about May 1908 to serve West Pittsburg, a growing manufacturing center established (from what was formerly East Moravia) just a few years prior in 1902. (c1910)Full Size
A P&LE trains pulls up alongside the station in West Pittsburg, while a wagon possibly awaits to pick up passengers. This station was in service until it was closed in 1964. (c1913) Full Size
(Aug 2013) Full Size
(Aug 2013) Full Size