We’ve all been under this railroad trestle if we live in Chester County. It’s is the one over 322. It’s a smidge west of Bradford Avenue in Downingtown. It’s a suicide bridge. It’s tall, dangerous, rotting, and owned by Norfolk Southern. (see neat photo array here: https://thesilentcamera.com/blog/2013/03/10/downingtowns-trestle-bridge// )
I thought it was supposed to become part of a trail. But I am guessing time, politics, COVID and money have put a lot of things like this on hold. The irony is Norfolk Southern makes LOTS of money. Surely they could donate this money to turn it into a trail? No I am not nuts, in the 3rd quarter of 2021 alone they reported a significant increase in revenue.
Now this is a historic trestle. It was built in the early 20th century – around 1903 I think. The Downingtown Historical Society has a page on their website devoted to the history complete with photos – really interesting. The Library of Congress designates it as a historic resource. But it’s just trouble waiting to happen to me. It hasn’t been used since the late 1980s.
It’s dangerous. Crap falls off it like a Philadelphia highway bridge, and it is a suicide place. Life is precious. We need more mental health resources, which is why Brandywine Hospital closing in 10 days is so devastating for our county. But this bridge? Norfolk Southern needs to step up and help be part of a solution.
Why this post? Something that stopped me in my proverbial tracks today on NextDoor:
Here is the petition: https://www.change.org/p/do-something-abouttrestle-bridge
Here is the narrative from the petition:
On May 24, 2021, we lost another young member of our community to suicide. This abandoned bridge presents a dangerous opportunity for our children in crisis. Ever since I moved to West Bradford township, I’ve driven under the Trestle Bridge and think about my own kids going up there to explore when they get older. There have now been two suicides and several attempts that I know of. Locals tell me there are many more that weren’t reported in the media.
This bridge is DANGEROUS. My husband grew up in West Bradford and tells me stories of kids (including himself) going up there all the time. I’ve spoken with local teens who have confirmed that it is still a place they visit, and they regularly document it on social media.
We cannot sit by and allow this bridge to decay any further. The netting underneath has collected a large amount of debris and heavy rocks. I’m afraid someone driving underneath the bridge after a heavy rainstorm will be its next victim.
Trestle Bridge either needs to be removed entirely or updated and used as a routinely monitored space in our community. One option that has been discussed in the past is a bike trail. Adding a bike path with high rails and security cameras will make Trestle Bridge a safer place.
While we can’t always prevent how a person ends their life, the community of Downingtown does not want history to continually repeat itself. It’s been trending on Google how to access the bridge due the the most recent tragedy. Trestle Bridge can no longer be a tempting and dangerous place for our children…….
JAN 21, 2022 —
Dear Community Members,
I’ve spoken with two local officials now and they have assured me that acquiring the bridge and creating a bike trail is the plan. I am not going to give up on this until we get something in writing. Norfolk Southern owns the bridge and ultimately needs to sign off. If you have a personal experience that documents the danger of Trestle Bridge, please email me your story at
Keep sharing the petition please. Our community has spoken and we are being heard!
May 24, 2021. I wrote about that tragic teen suicide. And it is not the only one from that location. There have been too many. There should not be access to this thing except for when railroad personnel need to get up there. And again, not active, but Norfolk Southern has responsibility for it. Is it technically orphaned when you know who owns it? When it comes to railroad bridges and trestle that seems to be a constant query.
Here is a video from 2012:
OI think signing the petition is a great idea. I also think contacting Norfolk Southern is another great idea. They have a media relations email: email@example.com and I found this one too: ATLNOCSID@nscorp.com and firstname.lastname@example.org .
They have a new CEO come May. He is currently President. I do not know if this email works but I found:
If they made this part of a trail with proper safety precautions, that would be terrific. But at a minimum, Norfolk Southern needs to cut public access off. They can at least do that. Their executives make buckets of money. The company is profitable even when they whine.
Railroads in general climb on my nerves. They make money, we need them. But needing them doesn’t mean we should put up with all of their orphaned and obsolete trestles, bridges, buildings and whatever other UNSAFE structures exist as ghostly reminders of their past and history from coast to coast.
I commend Caitlin whom I do not know, for trying to do something positive and proactive. So now let’s try to see what can happen. Sign the petition, contact Norfolk Southern and also contact elected officials additionally for better mental health resources and even school boards for better services for kids.
But for the Grace of God go we.
Thank you for this post, and for linking your past related posts. I know Caitlin, so I sent her the link so she can see the impact her Next Door post is having!