South Carolina Railroads - South Carolina Railroad / Railway


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Charleston, SC Branchville, SC Branchville, SC

Hamburgh, SC Columbia, SC Camden, SC

"Antelope," "Comet," "Dolphin" - Built by M.W. Baldwin 1845 for the South Carolina Railroad
** 1894 - Reorganized as the South Carolina & Georgia Railroad.
+ 1889 - In receivership.
+ 1881 - Reorganized and renamed to the South Carolina Railway, with new owners.
* 1843 - Merger of the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad and the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company. Brought with them were the lines called the Chalreston & Hamburgh Railroad and the Branchville & Columbia Railroad.

South Carolina Railroad - Pass and Ticket

On December 19, 1843, the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Company and the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company were merged, and the new company was named the South Carolina Rail Road Company. Just six years earlier, the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Company had purchased the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad (and the rights to the Branchville & Columbia Railroad, which was under construction) from the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, but it struggled financially due to many influences beyond its control.

When the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad was launched, general economic conditions were relatively good. But, then came the financial Panic of 1837, followed by a period of low prices for cotton. In 1840, this staple was selling for one-half the price which had prevailed four years before. Things only went downhill from there, but the LC&C RR did manage to complete the Branchville & Columbia Railroad by 1842.

The new company formed - the South Carolina Rail Road Company - was confronted with several very definite problems. It was under obligation in its new charter to build a branch road to Camden. It also had to deal with extending the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad into Augusta, GA and to eliminate the existing inclined plane at Aiken. And further, it had to meet the heavy debt which had been incurred by the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Rail Road Company in its futile attempt to build a road all the way to Cincinnati, OH. In additon to these, the stockholders were demanding that the business of the road be stimulated and the expenses of operation curtailed so that a dividend could be realized.

It was around these major problems that the activities of the new company revolved during the first decade and a half of its operations. But, it was immediately brought into the fray with the citizens of the Kershaw District, who had recently approached the South Carolina General Assembly for a new branch line to Camden. The legislature responded favorably by authorizing the South Carolina Rail Road Company to become joint stockholders with the citizens of the section through which the road was to pass.

At the meeting of the company in February of 1845, resolutions were adopted accepting the Act of the legislature and authorizing the board of directors "to subscribe for the Company a number of shares equal to those subscribed by individuals or corporate bodies, provided the right-of-way be first secured, provided a sum sufficient to defray the one-half of the construction of the Road, be first subscribed by the other parties."

The citizens of the Kershaw District fulfilled their obligations in quick order. The route of the road was surveyed and definitely located between the Wateree River and Camden, in accordance with an Act of the legislature, and most of it was put under contract. Heavy T-rail was adopted. Construction was pushed with considerable vigor, and, with the exception of delays due to the four miles of necessary trestle work over the Wateree Swamp and to the flooding of the area, satisfactory results were obtained.

On May 31, 1848, John McRae, the engineer in charge of the work, announced in the Camden Journal that ten miles of the road were open for the transportation of freight and passengers, and that a passenger train ran daily in connection with the other lines of the South Carolina Railroad. By September, the road was opened to Boykin's Turnout, a distance of eight miles from Camden, and finally, on November 1, its completion was again announced by the Camden Journal.

The length of this branch was thiry-eight (38) miles, and the total cost was $606,060.53.

While the Camden branch was under construction, the directors were making efforts to extend the road into Charleston and Augusta. The state legislators wanted the line to go all the way into the city of Charleston to the wharves along the docks. The citizens of Charleston did not want the line even in the city limits. The South Carolina Rail Road Company was stuck in the middle, so it did nothing but to build a new depot in 1850 and a new workshop in 1851.

With respect to Augusta, the company deferred long enough until the legislature finally granted them permission to build their own bridge over the Savannah River "at any point on said river at or near Hamburgh for the purpose of the transporation of freight and passengers on said road." Negotiations with the city of Augusta were soon entered and this resulted in a contract on August 10, 1852, under which the South Carolina Rail Road Company was "authorized to build a railroad bridge from Hamburgh to Augusta, and to extend its tracks up Washington Street about half a mile to a square convenient to the Georgia Rail Road depot, where a yard for interchange of through freight might be established."

The crossing was completed on April 8, 1853. Five years later, a contract was effected with the city of Augusta by which the company was permitted to connect its track with that of the Georgia Railroad. The final accomplishment of this connection was of great benefit to both the company and to the business interest of Charleston. It brought them into direct trade relations with Georgia and Tennessee.

In early July of 1850, a contract was let to finally eliminate the "inclined plane" at Aiken. A new route was established that circumvented the area completely, and it was completed in May of 1852, with a total cost of $124,963.94.

A final major improvement which the company found necessary to undertake during the period of 1844 to 1860 was the replacement of all of the light rail with heavier T-rail on the old Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad. The light rail could not stand the traffic of the heavier newer trains and locomotives and the higher speed which the increased business rendered indispensable. This work was begun in 1847 and continued gradually until it was completed in 1852. Total cost - more than $500,000.

The company finally began to improve financially, slowly but surely, as did the overall economy of the state. One factor was the growth in population, another was increased production of cotton. But, the new branch to Camden contributed greatly, as did the new connection across the Savannah River in Augusta, GA. Furthermore, new railroads across other sections of the state began to become operational, thereby increasing the freight tonnage into and out of Charleston and Columbia - the company's largest centers. Charleston was finally realizing the dream it had launched in the 1820s, when times were certainly tough. And, it was finally becoming the the wholesale center for the inland towns along the route of its tracks.

When the company first began in 1843, it had in service twenty-one (21) locomotives, fifteen (15) passenger and baggage cars, and two hundred and thirty (230) freight cars, for a total estimated value of about $135,200. In 1850, locomotives numbered thirty-six (36), passenger and baggage cars numbered twenty-three (23), and there were three hundred and forty-three (343) freight cars, for a total estimated value of about $390,414. In 1860, the number of locomotives had been increased to sixty-two (62), passenger and baggage cars to sixty-one (61), and freight cars to seven hundred and eighteen (718), with a total estimated value of $1,036,999.

The four and six-wheel locomotives were displaced by the eight and ten-wheel type. The eight-wheel engine was introduced on the road in 1845 by company President James Gadsden, who ordered three of this pattern from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The first, which was the first one of this design built by Baldwin, was delivered in December.

The ten-wheel type, used to draw the heavier freight trains, was introduced on the road about 1858.

Similarly, the four-wheel freight and passenger cars were displaced by those with eight wheels. By 1850, all of the freight cars in service were of this constrution; a number of the passenger cars had twelve and sixteen wheels.

Perhaps of equal importance with the improvements in the rolling stock was the increase in the speed of the trains. In 1838, it required 10-12 hours to travel from Charleston to Hamburgh. In 1851, the distance was made in 7-8 hours, and in six hours by the express train.

Of special interest was the establishment in 1856 of night accommodations between Charleston and Columbia. In making the announcement on April 22nd, the Daily Carolina Times of Columbia stated that the cars would be fitted up expressly for the accommodation of night travelers, and further comments that "this will be a very desirable acquisition to the road, as it is extremely irksome to persons in delicate health to sit up all night, and even those more robust feel the effects of a night trip to Charleston, on the following day." Night service was also established between Charleston and Augusta, and between Augusta and Kingsville by way of Branchville.

Passenger rates during the period ranged from three to five cents per mile. In 1847, the fare was five cents a mile. Three years later it was four cents, and in 1853 it was back down to three cents. However, by 1857, it was increased back up to four cents, where it remained.

John Gadsden remained as President of the company until 1850, when H.W. Connor was elected to succeed him. Connor served until June of 1853, at which time he resigned. His successor, John Caldwell, remained in service until October 20, 1862. W.J. Magrath succeeded him after he resigned.

The outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in the spring of 1861 and its final culmination four years later brought to the railroad, along with every other industry in South Carolina, disorganization and disaster.

Things did not start out too badly, however. There were necessarily heavy movements of troops and materiel of war, and in addition, private travel was stimulated. As prosperous as things seemed, the condition was not real. The receipts were expressed in Confederate currency, which decreased in value with each succeeding month of the war. And, the added strain of the war effort meant that the locomotives and the cars had been subjected to a strain which they could not endure, and maintenance costs were sky-rocketing.

In spite of the many difficulties, the trains continued to run until February of 1865. It was at that point in time that the military forces under Union General William Tecumseh Sherman invaded the state and with characteristic thoroughness wrecked the property of the South Carolina Rail Road Company. So complete was the destruction that when the directors of the company resumed control on June 19, 1865, the transporation facilities were reduced to four locomotives, five passenger and baggage cars, and thirty-six freight cars. All of these required repair before they could be useful again.

Only two sections of the road were left sufficiently intact for trains to operate. The first was from about two miles below Orangeburg to Charleston. This segment was held and operated by the Federal army until military control was withdrawn. The other segment was about twenty miles on the Augusta division, lying between the 116th milepost and Augusta. This segment, the company's agents were allowed to continue undisturbed in the management of operations.

At the end of the war, the total loss reached a staggering sum of $5,242,059, being almost equal to the capital stock at that time. The company simply rolled up their sleeves and immediately made preparations to re-establish train service and to rebuild all that had been destroyed. However, their biggest challenge was finding a labor supply, now that slavery had been abolished, and many of the returning troops were simply not fit to work.

The company's first order of business was to restore the lines around Columbia such that a connection could be made with the Charlotte & Columbia Railroad, to recover as quickly as possible the rolling stock that had been stored upon that road and not destroyed by the Federals. The actual work of rebuilding began on July 3rd at the seventy-ninth mile, and by October 11th, Lewisville was reached and the trains ran through to Adam's Cut, within fifteen miles of Columbia. Three days later, the line was operational to Hopkins, and on January 16, 1866, Columbia was regained.

On the Augusta division, work was begun at the Edisto River on October 15th, and on December 1st, the Charleston Daily Courier stated that the repairs were completed as far as Midway, ten miles above Branchville, and that the passenger and freight trains would begin to run regularly on December 6th. The work was pushed with all speed possible, until Augusta was reached on April 5, 1866.

No progress was made on the Camden line until December of 1866. It was then that the company was in a decent enough condition to enable it to purhcase new rails. Work was begun in February of 1867, and it was completed on May 25, 1867.

The rebuilding of depots, platforms, water tanks, agents' homes, and similar properties were less important than repairing the track. Only structures absolutely necessary for the maintenance of service were rebuilt. It was not until January of 1870 that the superintendent was able to state that the accommodations in this department were "reasonably satisfactory."

The company hired seven (7) locomotives and thirty-eight (38) cars from the Charleston & Savannah Railroad Company in the fall of 1865. Locomotives and cars which had been disabled were repaired in-house and rebuilt with remarkable speed. By February of 1867, it was reported that with the addition of nine (9) locomotives secured by purchase, the rolling stock of the company was in good order, and "quite sufficient for any probable demand for service."

Of peculiar interest and certainly of more than passing significance was the fact that in the midst of the destruction and losses suffered as a result of th war, the idea of railroad connections between Charleston and the Ohio River, which had prevailed so strongly in 1836-1839, was revived again. Perhaps such thoughts indicated more ambition than judgment, but assuredly it demonstrated the indomitable spirit of the South Carolina Rail Road Company.

While many were dreaming, competition rose up and began building a new railroad between Columbia and Augusta. The dreamers soon woke up and the company protested this new railroad as an infringement of their charter. The question was carried to the courts and it precipitated one of the liveliest railroad wars of the period.

The case was argued in June of 1867 before Chancellor Carroll, who reserved his decision. In the meantime, the Columbia & Augusta Railroad continued their construction. But, when at Columbia they attempted to build a track across that of the South Carolina Railroad, the latter filed another bill asking that they be prohibited from doing so. This bill was summarily dismissed. The South Carolina Railroad Company ignored the court's decision and attempted to prevent the progress of the work by placing a locomotive and a train of cars across the street (Rice Street) where the competitor's road was to pass. On the grounds that the train was obstructing a public street, the mayor ordered it removed without delay. This order too was ignored. Whereupon, the police were called, and under its direction, the order of the mayor was carried out.

Then, the Columbia & Augusta Railroad crews completed their track. However, two days later a force from the South Carolina Railroad Company tore up the track and dug up the embankment on both sides where it crossed the Branchville & Columbia Railroad line. They were promptly arrested and fined in the Mayor's Court - the agent $20 and three other employees each $19.50. For several days after this a locomotive "steamed up" and was kept near the crossing for the purpose of interfering in case rebuilding should be attempted.

Finally, In December of 1867, Chancellor Carroll rendered his decision, which was against the South Carolina Railroad Company. Thus, this company lost in its first attempt to reduce competition.

The company then took a totally new tact. They opened up a steamship line, without much fanfare. Then, they increased the amount of stock they had already acquired in the Macon & Augusta Railroad Company, and this gave them controlling interest. A few months later, heavy investments were made in the Greenville & Columbia Railroad Company, which was operated for several years thereafter substantially as a part of the South Carolina Railroad Company's "new system." The former gave cheap approach to the heart of a prosperous and growing section of Georgia, and that of the latter gave direct access to the cotton producing areas of the piedmont section of South Carolina.

In the meantime, smaller investments were made in the securities of other railroad companies, notably the Spartanburg & Union Railroad, the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad, and the North Carolina Railroad. But after 1874, the finances of the road were in such condition that the stockholders called a halt on such use of the company's funds.

Two other factors were suddenly introduced - the Panic of 1873, which caused unprecendented prostration of trade and industry; and perhaps of equal influence - the political disorganization of the state. After the regime of radical reconstructionists was thrown out in 1876, considerable hope was entertained by the company. But, the condition of the road was not improved and the "assured prosperity" was not quickly realized.

The failure of the company to substantially increase its receipts and the enormous increase in the fixed charges resulting from the creation of the heavy bonded debt inevitably resulted in the finances becoming more and more desperate with each passing year. In the fall of 1876, Samuel Sloan, a large stockholder from New York, wrote to President Magrath that "unless some proper arrangement is made with your competitors the road will go into bankruptcy." But, no proper arrangements could be made. (continues below)

Engine Number 29 - 1880

Engine Number 44 - 1881

Engine Number 15 - 1886 - Converted to Coal in 1890

In 1878, the company was forced into receivership, and John H. Fisher assumed management of the road on October 1, 1878. The case continued in court during the next two years, but the only solution possible was to sell the road, and this was advertised on July 28, 1881.

The sale was held in Charleston as scheduled, under the direction of John H. Fisher, special master. True to prediction, there were only two bidders - W.H. Brawley, representing the purchasing committee of New York, and Samuel Lord, representing the group of directors in Charleston. After several bids and pauses, the master announced that the new owners were J.S. Barnes, Samuel Sloan, J.J. Higginson, F.A. Stout, W.H. Brawley, trustees for themselves and others.

After some delay occasioned by two minor appeals, the sale was finally confirmed by the United States Circuit Court at Baltimore on November 19, 1881. Thus, the South Carolina Railroad definitely passed from under the control of Charleston capitalists who had financed and directed it for more than fifty years.

The new owners immediately proceeded to reorganize the company - on October 17, 1881, they filed in the office of the Secretary of State of South Carolina a certificate of incorporation, dated October 12, 1881, which provided that the name and style of the corporation should be the "South Carolina Railway Company," and that it was formed for the purpose of "owning, possessing, maintaining and operating the railroad first above mentioned, and of succeeding to all the powers, rights, immunities, privileges, and franchises of the the said South Carolina Rail Road Company."

When the new company was formed, John S. Barnes was elected president. He resigned on December 20, 1881 and was succeeded by John H. Fisher, who held office only a few months, retiring on April 5, 1882. Henry P. Talmadge was elected to succeed him and remained in office during the remaining life of the company.

With the completion of the reorganization and the making of provisions for the prior liens on the property, the officers directed their efforts towards increasing the business of the road. The first definitive step taken was in securing adequate terminal facilities at Charleston and water connections with the traffic of Eastern cities. They soon controlled a new corporation known as the New York & Charleston Warehouse and Steam Navigation Company. During 1882 and 1883, the new company constructed on the Cooper River approximately one thousand feet of wharf, warehouses for fertilizer and general merchandise, freight sheds, and slips for lighters and timber vessels.

Further, the company came into possession of Accommodation Wharf, and the South Carolina General Assembly amended the charter so as to authorize the construction of a line along and across the streets of Charleston from the main depot to this wharf.

Efforts were also underway to get control of connecting lines of the railroad. In 1882, the Barnwell Railway Company consummated an old plan and completed a line nine miles long from Barnwell to Blackville. The South Carolina Railway Company acquired controlling interest and began operating it as a proprietary line. However, the receipts were disappointing and in 1887 the road was resold to local interests.

During 1883, three miles of track were laid from the main line at Ten Mile Hill to the mines of the Charleston Mining Company at Lamb's, on the Ashley River. Phosphate was the objective. At the same time, a traffic contract was entered into with the Carolina, Cumberland Gap & Chicago Railroad Company, owners of the twenty-three (23) miles of road from Aiken to Edgefield, for a certain rebate from the receipts realized from joint business. In 1886, this contract was extended for a period of ten years.

Business improved, but profits were still unsatisfactory. Competition was getting fiercer and rates were going down instead of up. More hurdles had to be overcome. In 1886, the company was pretty much forced to change the gauge of its tracks from 5'-0" to 4'-8-1/2", which by now was the true "standard" across the Eastern seaboard, and to not do so would prove disastrous since all of the competition was making the switch. Of course, all the locomotives had to be modified or new ones obtained.

The second "event" of 1886 was the earthquake on the night of August 31st. A report from the company shows that as a result of the earthquake, the roadway was seriously injured by the displacement of banks, the destruction of culverts, and the bending of rails. Three trains were wrecked, the first near Ten Mile Hill, the second between Graniteville and Langley, and the third between Bath and Horse Creek. There were two fatalities.

Under these conditions - stationary receipts, heavy interest payments, increasing cost of maintenance and operation, and the resultant growing deficit - the company was forced to succumb to the inevitable. On January 2, 1889, it defaulted in interest on its second mortgage bonds. On October 7, 1889, Daniel H. Chamberlain, a native of Massachusetts and a former reconstruction governor of South Carolina, was appointed as receiver.

Chamberlain assumed control of the railroad on November 1, 1889 and immediately went to work to increase receipts. On May 20, 1890, he leased the Aiken-Edgefied line from the Carolina, Cumberland Gap & Chicago Railway Company for a term to expire with the receivership. On August 1, 1890, he began operation of the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad extending from Columbia forty-three (43) miles to Newberry. In addition, the rolling stock was greatly augmented, and the track and roadbed were considerably improved. But, receipts did not go up as planned.

On November 23, 1892, the United States Circuit Court handed down a foreclosure decree for the sale of the road free of all encumbrances. Because of several appeals, the sale was postponed until April 12, 1894. It was held under the portico of the general offices of the company at the corner of King and Ann Streets with Chamberlain, special master, in charge. The only bid made was for $1,000,000 by W.H. Peckham, and hence the "knocked down" to him for this amount. He represented Henry W. Smith, Gustave Kissel, and Peter Geddes, who in turn represented the first consolidated bondholder of the road. By two deeds, one dated May 1 and another dated May 9, 1894, the purchasers were vested with title to all property of the now-defunct South Carolina Railway Company.

Excerpted with edits from "Centennial History of South Carolina Railroad" by Samuel Melanchthon Derrick, 1930.

Towns on Route:

Line #1 - Charleston to Hamburgh:


North Augusta (1900)

Clearwater (1901)

Bath (1852)

Marshes (1850s)

Langley (1871)

Warrenville (1898)

Graniteville (1848)


Roseland (1890)

Woodward (1853) > Johnson (1860) > Mont Morenci

Oakwood (1893)

110 Mile Turnout (1850s)

Windsor (1856)

White Pond (1880)


96 Mile Turnout (1850s)

Mims (1857) > Elko (1871)


Lees Station (1873) > Lees Turnout > Lees


Denmark (1892)

Lowery (1850) > Bamberg (1854)


Edisto Turnout (1893) > Edisto

Embree (1913)


58 Mile Turnout (1850s)

Badham (1901)

Reevesville (1854)

St. George

Byrds (1888)

41 Mile Turnout (1850s)

Rumph's Bridge (1856) > Rumphtown > Pregnalls

Ross Station (1850s) > Dorchester (1903)

Latimer (1850s)

Timothy Creek > Ridgeville (1844)

26 Mile Turnout (1850s)

Jedburgh (1852)


Lincolnville (1883)

Ladsons (1850s) > Anneville > Ladsons

Ashley Phosphate (1889) > Midland Park (1909)

Sineaths (1850s)

Ten Mille Hill (1879) > Tenmile > The Farms (1913)

7 Mile Pump (1850s)

Horse Pond (1916)

Myers (1894)


Line #2 - Branchville to Columbia:


Hamptons (1850s)

Woodlands (1850s)


Hopkins Turnout (1849)

Weston (1887)


Kingsville (1855)

Fort Mott (1847)

Lewisville Depot (1841) > St. Matthews (1842)

Jamison (1854)

Stilton (1898)


Felderville (1878)

Rowe's Pump (1855) > Rowesville (1876)

Sixty-Six Mile (1850s) > Sixty Six


Line #3 - Camden to Branchville:


Boykins Depot (1849) > Boykin (1886)

Sanders (1880s)

Hagood (1880)

Horatio (1900)

Claremont (1840s)

Camden Junction (1890s)

Sumter Junction (1900s)

Middleton (1840s)

Wateree Junction (1840s) > Wateree (1852)

Clarksons (1870s)

Kingsville (1855)

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