Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania
700 Station Avenue Station Avenue and Railroad Avenue Cornwells Heights, PA 19020
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Parking Lot Ownership||Amtrak|
|200 Long Term Parking Spaces||300 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Payphones|
|Accessible Platform||Dedicated Parking||Wheelchair Lift|
- Keystone Service
- Northeast Regional
(202) 906-3918 (ph)
Local Community Links:
Passengers board and alight at Cornwells Heights at platforms with several open shelters shared with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). SEPTA leases the station and serves the area with the Trenton Line rail and transit buses and maintains its own enclosed wooden building on the platform that seats approximately 15 with a ticket office and restrooms. The station also serves Eddington, Penn., and is located directly next to Interstate 95 and Bristol Pike. It has the largest commuter parking lot in the SEPTA system.
Bensalem Township, which encompasses Cornwells Heights and several other suburban Philadelphia communities, was formed in 1692 in Bucks County, only 11 years after England’s King Charles II granted the land charter to William Penn that would later become Pennsylvania. The richly wooded area on the banks of the Delaware River, with other abundant nearby water features, provided an attractive place for settlement and resources for both farming and industry. On the other side of today’s Interstate 95 runs the Bristol Pike, which has existed since it was established in 1685 as a major coach road between Philadelphia and New York City.
Cornwells Heights, which began as “Cornwells,” is thought to take its name from Thomas Cornwell, who owned or worked the land at the time of his death in 1839. A community developed on the hill above the rail line, and thus both the station and the village came to be known as Cornwells Heights. The community saw some of the first rail line in the United States open when the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad began operating from Philadelphia to Trenton in 1834. This historic line, which is now part of the Northeast Corridor, was operated by the Camden and Amboy Railroad, and in 1871, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR).
The land that the present station stands upon once belonged to Katherine Drexel, the only American-born Catholic saint. Mother Katherine began as an heiress to the Drexel banking and railroad fortune, and yet dedicated her life to charitable works even before taking vows as a nun in 1889. By the time she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and purchased property in Cornwell Heights for the order’s motherhouse, the PRR had built a station there. Mother Katherine and her siblings had grown up nearby, and her sister, Elizabeth, had founded an industrial school for orphans in nearby Eddington, thus making the choice of Cornwells Heights reasonable as a staging place for a missionary order, which also operated many schools—including one at the convent in Cornwell’s Heights at one time. Mother Katherine named the convent Saint Elizabeth’s in her sister’s honor. By 1942, her order had founded schools in 13 states; established 40 mission centers, 23 rural schools, 50 Indian missions; and founded Xavier University in New Orleans, the first U.S. university for African-Americans. Mother Katherine passed away in 1955 and was canonized in 2000. Her domed shrine where she rests upon a hill, can be seen from the station. Although it was closed by the building of Interstate 95, the remnants of the road to the station can still be seen—the route that Mother Katherine’s nuns took to go out into the world to do their good works.
Between 1952 and 1958, Levitt and Sons built the nearby planned community, Levittown, which lies to the northeast of Cornwells Heights, one of the first such modern suburbs, and when SEPTA formed in 1963, it provided most of the necessary commuter service to the station, as Cornwells Heights draws from a large region. While the Clocker trains ran past the community from 1971 to 2005, Amtrak service to Cornwells Heights began in October 1997 with the Keystone Service.
The unstaffed Cornwells Heights station does not provide ticketing or baggage handling and is served by four daily trains.