South Carolina Railroads - Northeastern Railroad

Acronym

Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point

NE RR

1851

1856

1898*

Florence

Charleston
* 1898 - Acquired by the Atlantic Coast Line of South Carolina.
+ 1882 - Considered to be part of the Atlantic Coast Line, per the 4th Annual Report of the SC Railroad Commission.

The Northeastern Railroad was chartered in December of 1851 and opened in 1856 from Charleston north to link up with the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad at Florence, a distance of 102 miles. The road ran through a sparsely settled countryside and its financial success was doubtful from the start. It was financed largely by the city of Charleston and the banks of that city.

With the exception of the traffic which it received from the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad, it was wholly dependent on local traffic originating in a thinly populated agricultural region of the state. It had competition in this field, for it crossed the Santee Canal, which connected the Santee River and the city of Charleston, thus giving water transportation to a large part of the territory which would otherwise have been compelled to ship over lines of the railroad.

On February 15, 1865 with Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army in large numbers near Orangeburg and concerned that the Northeastern Railroad leading from Charleston to Florence and Cheraw would be cut, General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered Lt. General William J. Hardee to evacuate Charleston. Lt. General Hardee being temporarily ill, the responsibility for evacuating what was left of the Confederate army from Charleston fell to Major General Lafayette McLaws. He ordered the troops from James Island to move out by Ashleys Ferry and follow the Northeastern Railroad, to be followed in turn by all the troops in the city.

It was during the last phases of the evacuation of the Confederate Army from Charleston that a terrible tragedy befell the civilian population. Lt. Moses Lipscomb Wood, of Company F, the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment, “The Thicketty Rifles,” reported in his “War Record“ - “I was in Charleston on the night before and the morning it was evacuated, and was put in charge of a detail of about 75 men to load what cars [of the Northeastern Railroad] we could ahead of us. We had not been out of the depot long before the women and children rushed in to see what they could get. The depot was filled with powder and explosives and caught on fire and was blown up—causing the most pitiful sight I saw during the war. Women and children, about 250, were killed and wounded, and some were carried out by where [we] were in line on the streets, with their clothing burned off and badly mutilated.”

Major General McLaws’ troops took the cars of the Northeastern Railroad as far as Florence, and arrived at Cheraw the following day. The trains carrying Major General McLaws’ troops were crowded to overflowing, and some of the men from Kershaw’s old brigade “spent a miserable night riding on top of the cars in a driving rain.”

The Northeastern Railroad suffered great damage to its property during the U.S. Civil War, and it was forced to spend over $215,000 on reconstruction. It suffered also because of the total destruction of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad and its delayed reconstruction after the war. This interfered greatly with the Northeastern Railroad's rail travel from southern points northward since traffic was diverted before it reached the Northeastern Railroad.

The road could not get away from the fact that it was very unfortunately located to maintain a separate existence. However, later it would be deemed very valuable in a larger system, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

In a June 8, 1886 article from the New York Times:

CHARLESTON, S. C., June. 7.--The northward bound passenger train on the Northeastern Railroad which, left here at 12 o'clock to-day, plunged through the Santee River trestle, midway between St. Stephens Station and Santee River bridge, smashing up the coaches and killing six passengers. The killed are John L. Cole, Dr. G.G. Kinloch, Charles Inglesby Jr., and Miss Melver of Charleston; Miss C.E. McWhite, of Marion, and Miss Hannah Wilson, residence not known. Conductor B.G. Mazyck and Mail Agent F.W. Renneker were badly injured. The cause of the accident is not yet known, but it is supposed to have resulted from the insecure fastenings of a rail on changing gauge. As soon as the news of the accident reached this city a special train was dispatched, in charge of Superintendent Royall, with Dr. Ancrum for the relief of the wounded, and to bring back the dead. The extent of the damage to the property of the company is not yet ascertained. The wreck is so serious that no northern-bound train will be sent out to-night. The train with the dead and wounded will arrive here this evening. 

Click Here for a photo of the destroyed station in Charleston at the end of the Civil War. The title says Northwestern Railroad (incorrect), but the text has it right under the photo.

From the Fourth Annual Report of the South Carolina Railroad Commissioners issued in 1882, the following stations were named for the Northeastern Railroad:

Station................................................ Distance between Stations

Charleston.......................................................... 0 miles
Magnolia ........................................................... 2.0 miles
Charleston & Savannah Junction ........................ 5.0 miles
8-Mile Turnout .................................................. 1.0 mile
Otranto ............................................................. 7.0 miles
Mt. Holly .......................................................... 5.0 miles
Oakley .............................................................. 4.0 miles
Moncks Corner ................................................. 7.0 miles
Bonneau's .......................................................... 8.0 miles
St. Stephen's ...................................................... 7.0 miles
Gourdin's ........................................................... 6.0 miles
Lane's ................................................................ 3.0 miles
Salter's ............................................................... 5.0 miles
Kingstree ............................................................ 5.0 miles
Cade's ................................................................ 8.0 miles
Graham's ............................................................ 6.0 miles
Scranton ............................................................. 3.0 miles
Coward's ............................................................ 4.0 miles
Effingham ............................................................ 7.0 miles
Willoughby's ........................................................ 5.0 miles
Florence .............................................................. 4.0 miles

Towns on Route:

Florence

Howe (aka Willoughby Station) (1883) > Bannockburn

Effingham > Effingham Station (1857) > Effingham

Cowards (1874)

Hinson (1883) > Coward (1900)

Leesville

Grahams

Myersville (1857) > Scranton (1878)

Lynch's Lake > Lake City (1883)

Camp Ridge > Cades (1895)

Kingstree

Salters Depot (1860s)

Lane (1875)

Gourdine Station (1871) > Gourdin (1894)

Santee River (1890s)

Pineville > St. Stephen's Depot (1866) > St. Stephen

Black Oak > Bonneaus Depot (1866) > Bonneau

Macbeth (1886)

Moncks Corner

Oakley Depot (1869) > Oakley (1942)

Strawberry (1879)

Mount Holly (1853)

Cantrell (1902) > Goose Creek (1909)

Porcher (1880s)

Saxon (1890s)

Eight-Mile Station (1870s)

Ashley Junction (1890s)

Mappus (1900)

Charleston



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