South Carolina Railroads - Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad

Acronym

Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point

CN&L RR

1885

1891

1924*

Laurens, SC

Newberry, SC


*1924 merged into Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

+ 1896 - Merged with the Laurens Railroad.


In 1885, the South Carolina General Assembly issued a charter for the Columbia, Newberry, & Laurens Railroad, and the line was officially christened on Christmas Day, 1885. In 1890, work began on the track, and by July, 1891, the line was complete from Columbia to Dover Junction, 63.5 miles. In 1896, the Laurens Railroad was merged into the CN&L to complete the line to Laurens.

The first locomotive of the CN&L was built in 1887, and sold in 1922. The CN&L ran daily passenger trains that originated from Union Station in Columbia, and traveled up the line to Laurens, SC. These trains were always pulled by steam, until the service was discontinued in 1952. The rail was originally 56 pound rail which was replaced with 80-85 pound rail in 1925. In 1972, the entire line was rebuilt using heavy ribbon rail.

The CN&L's first wreck occurred on September 9, 1899 when a wooden trestle over the Broad River collapsed under the weight of the train, killing the entire crew. On September 5, 1928, a Southern Railway passenger train was detoured on the CN&L from Newberry to Columbia, due to a washout on Southern track. However, a washout had also occurred on the CN&L at the 3-Mile marker, right near the site where Riverbanks Zoo would be located 44 years later. The Southern train was unaware of this, and plunged into the washout. The train crew and the CN&L pilot onboard were all killed.

Despite these wrecks, as well as other derailments over the years, the CN&L was a very safe railroad. Those two wrecks were the only ones that resulted in death.

Because of the CN&L's location and businesses along its route, the CN&L was a very profitable railroad. It was an important connection with the Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, and Southern Railway. In the late 1950s, the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company steam-powered electric generating plant opened up at Lake Murray, providing significant coal traffic on the CN&L.

As an interesting side note, the town of Irmo, SC was built by the railroad as a water and fuel stop along the way. It was incorporated in 1890, and consisted of one square mile of area. It has certainly grown over the years. The name of the town came from the first two letters of the last names of C. J. Iredell, secretary-treasurer of the CN&L, and H.C. Moseley, first president of the CN&L.

The Columbia, Newberry, and Laurens railroad was an important boom to the towns of Irmo, Clinton, Chapin, and others along its route. Known also as the 'Crooked, Noisy, & Late,' the railroad was an independent company throughout its 99 year history, even though it was technically 'owned' by the Atlantic Coast Line since 1924. Its diesel locomotives reflected this controlling interest, as they were in the ACL's purple and silver paint scheme. In 1984, the CN&L was formally merged into CSX Transportation.

Click Here for photos and more info.


Towns on Route:

Laurensville > Laurens (1893)

Clinton

Martins Depot > Goldville (1883) > Joanna (1948)

Kinards Turnout > Kinards (1881)

Dominicks (1888) > Dominick (1891) > Independence (1898)

Gay's Lane

Gary (1890)

Jalappa > Jalapa (1875)

Newberry C.H. > Newberry (1892)

Prosperity

Slighs (1890)

Little Mountain

Chapin

Irmo (1890)

New Brookland > West Columbia (1938)

Columbia



© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved