The following is a brief history of the Fox Chase - Newtown Line as well as "Rails to Trails"
1876: First steam locomotives haul passengers from Philadelphia to Newtown.
1921: Historic train collision along a narrow cut near Paper Mill Rd. Many fatalities were from families in Southampton. Resulted in national legislation to eliminate wood constructed passenger cars.
1961-1963: Steam locomotives are phased out.
1982: Fatal collision between SEPTA train and tanker at 2nd Street Pike crossing in Southampton.
1983: Passenger service is discontinued in January.
1986: Due to the growing popularity of utilizing abandoned or inactive rail lines, the Rails to Trails Conservancy forms in Washington D.C. and opens regional offices to advocate for converting these rail lines into multi-use trails.
1991: The Newtown Greenway Coalition forms as a non-profit organization with the purpose of utilizing the inactive “Fox Chase-Newtown” Line as a recreational trail and preserved greenway. Attempts to do so were rebuffed because SEPTA was considering reactivating and/or selling the line.
1995-2006: Studies were conducted during this time period illustrating that reactivating the Fox Chase-Newtown Line was not feasible. Upper Southampton Township becomes the first township along this line in Bucks County to conduct it’s own “Rails to Trails” study, which illustrated the many benefits of “Rails to Trails” (click here to download study). However, SEPTA retained reactivation of the line on its long range budget. No further action was taken.
2008: Montgomery County leases a portion of the rail line from SEPTA.
2009: A portion of the “Pennypack Trail” from Robbins Ave. to Huntington Pike opens as the first “Rails to Trails” project along the Fox Chase-Newtown Line.
2010: SEPTA removes the Newtown Line Improvement project and projected funding from its Capital Program and Comprehensive Plan.
2010: Upper Southampton Comprehensive Plan Update includes SEPTA's suggestion to make use of right-of-way for "Rails-to-Trails" project similar to an agreement with Montgomery County. General recommendations included for initiative to occur along the R8 line presented as also recommended in the 2007 Park, Recreation, and Open Space Plan (click here to download complete comprehensive plan).
2013: Montgomery County secures funding to complete Southern portion of trail to Rockledge Park and redecks 1st bridge to North of Lorimer Park in August 2013.
2014: Montgomery County finalizes a lease with SEPTA for the remainder of the line to County Line Rd. in January 2014. The groundbreaking ceremony is held on June 6, 2014 at the old Huntington Valley Station. A completed trail will connect Rockledge Community Park with Mason's Mill Park by Fall of 2015!