A Brief History of the Southampton Railroad Station
The inaguration of the train line between Philadelphia and Newtown in 1878 was a decisive moment in the history of the Upper Southampton Township. Local farmers abandoned traditional crops for dairy farming now that they had quick access to markets tin the city. The village of Southampton, previously little more than a crossroads with a store and post office, developed rapidly. Local residents began to commute to jobs in the city: city dwellers came to the "country" to stay in a nearby hotel ("The While Hotel") or board with local families. Not surprisingly, the passenger station, constructed in 1892 was a focal point in this community.
The station is a wood-frame building with decorative shingles, similar to the other stations on the former Reading Railroad. The design most closely resembles that of the Churchville station, the next stop on the Newtown line. The first floor consisted of a waiting room with benches and a ticket office. The second floor, also two rooms, provided living quarters for the station-master.
THe upstairs living quarters were used until ca. 1960 by a retired Reading Railroad employee. The ground floor continued to be used as a waiting room until service ended on the line in 1983. Since then, the building has suffered from vandalism and lack of maintenance. However, a recent inspection, performed by the township's Historical Advisory Board, code enforcement officals and representatives of SEPTA found the building to be structurally sound.
Although the freight station and outhouses which once formed part of the same complex no longer exist, the Southampton train station remains essentially intact, retaining features such as the ticket window and benches in the waiting room and decorative shingles on the exterior.
It is from this station that local residents embarked on the morning of December 5, 1921, for an anticipated uneventful trip to the city. A collision with an oncoming train north of Bryn Athyn resulted in 30 deaths, largely through fire in the wooden coaches. The disaster touched virtually every family in the community and provided the impetus for a national ban on wooden railway passenger cars.