Coatesville, PA (COT)
The city rose to fame in the early 19th century through the manufacture of boilerplates. Mills later supplied steel used in naval vessels and landmarks such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2020): 9,186
- Facility Ownership: Amtrak
- Parking Lot Ownership: Amtrak
- Platform Ownership: Amtrak
- Track Ownership: Amtrak
Amtrak passengers at Coatesville use a platform and shelter adjacent to the historic brick depot, which is one of the oldest existing train stations along the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Built in 1868, the two-story brick depot shows characteristics of the Italianate style, such as segmental and flat window hoods, arcaded passageways, ornamental brickwork and a projecting tower. Italianate architecture was popular in the mid-19th century for its associations with idealized country and suburban settings.
Although an important part of Coatesville’s architectural and industrial history as a steel producing center, the building has been abandoned for more than 20 years and was included in Preservation Pennsylvania’s 2003 “Pennsylvania at Risk” report as one of that state’s most endangered historic properties.
For more than a decade, city, regional and state officials have discussed possible redevelopment scenarios for the depot as well as the surrounding neighborhood. Renewed emphasis was placed on redevelopment as part of planning activities associated with the Keystone Corridor Improvement Project, a multiyear program launched in 2004 to upgrade the 104-mile Amtrak-owned rail line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
The goal of the project was to improve the rail corridor in order to allow for all-electric train service, increase top speeds to 110 mph and add train frequencies including express options. As part of these efforts, the electric system to power the trains was replaced and continuous welded rail and concrete ties were installed. Following the completion of work in 2006, ridership subsequently spiked at many stations along the Keystone Corridor, including Coatesville.
In summer 2013, the Chester County Economic Development Council announced the selection of a developer for a project to revitalize the Coatesville station area. Although total costs will be dependent on final design and engineering estimates, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has pledged approximately $20 million to the project, and an additional $700,000 had been made available via the Chester County Community Revitalization Program.
Under the plan, a new universally accessible station with parking would be built just east of the historic depot, along the tracks between Third and Fourth Avenues. The old depot would be rehabilitated and repurposed for another use to be determined by market analysis. To reinforce the connection between the station area and the principal commercial corridor along the Lincoln Highway, Third Avenue would receive new streetscaping to include trees, plantings, sidewalks, lights and other amenities. Ultimately, planners hope that these investments will encourage transit oriented development near the station with residential, commercial and office space within easy walking distance.
Stakeholders involved in the planning process included PennDOT, Amtrak, Chester County, Coatesville, the Coatesville Redevelopment Authority and the Chester County Economic Development Council, as well as local residents. Philadelphia-based Pennoni Associates, partnered with West Chester-based developer EdiS and Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects, began the conceptual design phase in 2013.
Coatesville has a rich railroad history that goes back to the early 19th century, when the nation’s transportation system began to undergo radical expansion that changed how people and goods were moved over long distances. New York State finished the Erie Canal in the 1820s and Maryland could boast of the National Road. Farsighted leaders in Pennsylvania pushed for a similar transportation corridor to link Philadelphia with Pittsburgh. Located at opposite ends of the state, the former was an important Atlantic Ocean port and cultural center, while the latter provided access to the Ohio River and the productive agricultural lands of the Midwest.
Rushing to catch-up, by 1836 Pennsylvania had completed the Main Line of Public Works, a system of railroads and canals that reduced travel time across the state from weeks to four days. In the southeastern part of the state, the Main Line consisted of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which established a depot in the 1830s on the west side of the West Branch of the Brandywine River as it passed through present-day Coatesville.
Maintenance proved expensive, prompting the state to sell the Main Line to the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1857. Originally chartered to run from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, by 1855 the railroad covered the entire distance between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and severely cut into the Main Line’s profit margin. The PRR undertook a program to modernize, straighten and realign the tracks, and cities along its path prospered as points of trade where rural farmers and manufacturers could ship their goods to distant markets. From 1902-1904, the PRR constructed the stone masonry arch High Bridge across the Brandywine; more than a century later, it remains a landmark as one enters downtown Coatesville by car or on foot.
Iron and then steel were important products carried by rail from Coatesville mills to destinations across the East Coast. As early as the 1790s, area mills were producing valuable iron products. The city rose to national and international fame in the early 19th century through the fine boilerplates manufactured by the Brandywine Ironworks. By the next century, the mills had taken the Lukens family name and went on to become major suppliers of steel used in U.S. Navy vessels and landmarks such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Philadelphia’s Walt Whitman Bridge. Due to later acquisitions and mergers, the mills are now part of the ArcelorMittal Steel Company and are known for plate steel.
The town’s manufacturing heritage is recognized at the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum, part of which is housed in the former downtown headquarters of the Luken Steel Company. In addition to learning about how steel is made and the various steel products that came out of Coatesville, visitors may also tour nearby historic homes owned by the extended family that managed the mills throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Although Coatesville suffered economically from the decline of the American steel industry beginning in the 1970s, the city and the region have been undergoing redevelopment as Chester County has become the beneficiary of increasing demands for residential, recreational and retail facilities. Coatesville’s location near Philadelphia as well as its relatively low-cost of living has made it a prime competitor for this expanding market.
Amtrak’s Keystone Service is financed in part through funds made available by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Platform with Shelter
- Quik-Trak kiosks not available
- No ticket sales office
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- Bag storage not available
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- Same-day parking is not available
- Overnight parking is not available
- No restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- No accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- Accessible same-day parking is not available
- Accessible overnight parking is not available
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- No wheelchair lift