Schuylkill River Trail: Shawmont–MontCo Open Again, Better Than Ever

 

Opening remarks at the Shawmont to Montgomery County portion of the Schuylkill River Trail; L-R: Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Michael Nutter, State Representative Pamela DeLissio, City Councilman Curtis Jones | Photo: Mike Szilagyi

Opening remarks at the Shawmont to Montgomery County portion of the Schuylkill River Trail; L-R: Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Michael Nutter, State Representative Pamela DeLissio, City Councilman Curtis Jones | Photo: Mike Szilagyi

A ribbon-cutting Thursday morning formally opened a one-mile stretch of Schuylkill River Trail, between Shawmont and the Montgomery County line.

Funded with federal stimulus dollars, the $1.4 million project widened an older section of trail from a narrow 8 feet to a much more suitable 12 feet, and opened a new segment of trail between Port Royal Avenue and Shawmont Avenue.

Councilman Curtis Jones was instrumental in negotiating with property owners, some of whom had extended their back yards onto the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad track-bed now owned by Philadelphia Electric Company. The compromise that was hammered out allows adjacent property owners to continue to use half the track-bed, with the trail placed on the other half. A new 10-foot high privacy fence divides public from private space.

Constructed in 1883, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Schuylkill Division was abandoned in the 1970s. A study now being conducted will determine the feasibility of extending the trail east from Shawmont Avenue one and one-half miles. This would connect to the Ivy Ridge Trail and on to the Cynwyd Heritage Trail now being constructed across the iconic Manayunk Bridge.

The trail that opened today and its projected extensions will form key links in The Circuit, the region’s emerging network of multi-use trails.

A Pennsylvania Railroad train passes through what is now (with slightly cleaner air) the Schuylkill River Trail between Spring Mill and Shawmont

A Pennsylvania Railroad train passes through what is now (with slightly cleaner air) the Schuylkill River Trail between Spring Mill and Shawmont

About the author

Mike Szilagyi was born in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia, and raised in both Logan and what was the far edge of suburbia near Valley Forge. He found himself deeply intrigued by both the built landscape and by the natural “lay of the land.” Where things really get interesting is the fluid, intricate, multi-layered interface between the two.

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5 Comments


  1. Good thing Nutter spent millions in city money to demolished the historic pumping station at the end of the trail in Shawmont two years ago.

  2. Not money well spent, for sure. If you are riding from the tow path or from Shawmont Ave. the small section of Nixon St. you use, to get onto the SRT, is pretty easy, a quiet street, with not much traffic at all. It has created a dangerous intersection, I’ve already seen a number of riders come down off the new trail, blind to the cross traffic and pedal through the small stop sign. Close the ramp. Complete the trail along the old rail line, to Manayunk. Sorry to see the money wasted on that entrance/exit ramp. How about repaint the bike lanes along Umbria St. Clean overgrowth off of the bike lanes. At least maintain what we have.

  3. “eminent danger of collapse” of course, the byline developers and officials use whenever they want to demolish an old building. BS. Despite being built in the 1860s and abandoned for 50 years those old stone walls didn’t have a single buckle in them. The station was even part of the nationally registered Shawmont Historic District.

    Truthfully it seems the city was afraid of liability and also they floated the idea of dumping mud from dredging on the sites concrete foundation until locals protested and they dropped it.

    More history lost for nothing. They were beautiful old ruins, a real shame.

  4. Those interested in the potential for a new multi-use trail on the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Division (extending west from the high Manayunk Bridge) are invited to attend a public meeting at North Light Community Center on Monday night April 22, 2013 between 7 p.m and 9 p.m. Address is 175 Green Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19127.

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