The Panic of 1819 created many changes across the burgeoning new country of the United States of America.
In 1819, a financial panic swept across the country. The growth in trade that followed the War of 1812 came to an abrupt halt. Unemployment mounted, banks failed, mortgages were foreclosed, and agricultural prices fell by half. Investment in western lands collapsed.
The panic was frightening in its scope and impact. In New York State, property values fell from $315 million in 1818 to $256 million in 1820. In Richmond, property values fell by half. In Pennsylvania, land values plunged from $150 an acre in 1815 to $35 in 1819. In Philadelphia, 1,808 individuals were committed to debtors' prison. In Boston, the figure was 3,500.
The panic had several causes, including a dramatic decline in cotton prices, a contraction of credit by the Bank of the United States designed to curb inflation, an 1817 congressional order requiring hard-currency payments for land purchases, and the closing of many factories due to foreign competition.
In South Carolina, the impact was difficult on almost everyone, however, the city of Charleston seemed to be the hardest hit, especially since it was still the largest town in South Carolina, as well as the largest port in the state.
By 1823, the economy was gaining once again, but by now the piedmont section of South Carolina started becoming the more prosperous section of the state. Cotton had been a lowland crop for decades, but by now the upcountry was producing this staple in ever increasing amounts. And, it was now fairly expensive to get the crop to market, even with the new canals in the interior of the state. Roads were abominable, and the canals were unreliable.
True to human nature, the upcountry folks started finding ways to get their cotton to market at a cheaper cost - by way of the Savannah River down to the growing port city of Savannah, GA. All they had to do was to haul it via wagon to Augusta and then load it on steamboats bound for the Atlantic - getting it all the way directly to Charleston, SC was at least twice and sometimes three times as costly.
Also true to human nature, the folks of Charleston were not going to sit idly by and watch their port city crumble to dust. As soon as the Panic of 1819 hit, they went on the offensive, and did their best to keep the crops grown in South Carolina out of the hands of the shippers in Savannah, GA.
Their first attempt was to purchase a steamship company located in Savannah - one that now could divert all domestic exports coming down the Savannah River via Charleston. The U.S. Supreme Court intervened and this was quickly stopped.
The next attempt by the native Charlestonians was even more bold. They convinced the South Carolina General Assembly to charter a new town - on the opposite banks of the Savannah River across from Augusta, Georgia - to be named Hamburgh. South Carolinian farmers now had a place within the state to bring their produce, instead of taking it across the river to the Georgians.
In 1821, the state of South Carolina granted a loan of $50,000 secured by a mortgage of the new town without interest, and an additional $25,000 bond with personal security to Henry Shultz, the founder and promoter.
Both the older and well-established town of Augusta and now the new town of Hamburgh were located at the fall line of the Savannah River, which was as far upriver as ships of any size could safely navigate. But, the new town of Hamburgh barely made a dent in the continued trade with Augusta, which was better equipped to handle transportation.
The greatest problem was that there simply were no decent roads between the new town of Hamburgh and anywhere else within South Carolina. So, the Charlestonians had another idea - they proposed the digging of a canal parallel to the coast from the Ashley River to the Savannah River, just above the town of Savannah - to heck with Hamburgh. Luckily, this scheme never got past the talking stage.
The next suggestion was for a railroad, which appeared in the City Gazette on November 22, 1821, signed only by "H." The writer submitted a publication on the "Patent Railway," which suggested a railroad from Charleston to Augusta and a branch to Columbia. He also pointed out the advantage of such a railroad in the transportation of cotton:
"For the City Gazette: Mr. Editor: Having during an excursion to the Eastward seen a specimen of the patent railway, I was led to believe that the plan would be useful in this State. The inclement weather to which our roads are subject must defy all attempts to render them good during some portions of the year. The soil on which they are made and the materials adjacent to some parts renders them liable to constant injury. The following publication may serve to direct public attention to the subject. It was made in relation to a more northern climate and some of the inconveniences stated would not be felt here. The reason for discussing the great subject of Internal Improvements has arrived and this may add to the material."
Interest was aroused, but nothing of consequence was done for several years. By 1827, the problem of the trade with Augusta was reaching an acute state. In the December 5, 1827 edition of the Charleston Courier appeared this:
"Upon the application of many citizens the Intendent ordered an extra meeting of council yesterday afternoon, when it was unanimously resolved to call a meeting of citizens tomorrow at one o'clock at the City Hall to petition the Legislature to cause the country between Savannah and Savanna [sic] rivers to be surveyed with a view to a canal that will connect them, or a railroad from Augusta to Charleston.
This is a subject that ought to enlist the feelings of every citizen of Charleston. From what we have seen and heard we confidently anticipate one of the largest meetings ever held in this city.
The enterprise is going forward and that, too, we are happy to say, among our most substantial capitalists."
The South Carolina General Assembly was in session at the time, and Alexander Black, then a member of the House of Representatives from Charleston, on December 4, 1827 introduced "a bill to incorporate a company to establish a railway or railways between the City of Charleston and the towns of Hamburgh, Columbia, and Camden." The bill was speedily passed and finally approved on December 19, 1827. It authorized the organization of a corporation under the style of "The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. This new charter was revised in January of 1828, and it was considered "to be the most favorable ever granted a company in South Carolina."
After this charter was secured, public interest seems to have been thoroughly awakened, and every effort was made to promote the new project. Upon the request of a committee of citizens, the city council voted to have a model of a railroad made and exhibited for public inspection, provided the expense did not exceed $500. The following account of the model appeared in the Charleston Courier on March 18, 1828:
"A model of a Rail-Road 200 feet in length is now exhibited in Wentworth Street, opposite the residence of John Hume, Esq. It is on an inclination of 22 feet to the mile. A car bearing 36 bales of cotton.... has been placed upon it which is propelled with ease by only two hands the whole length of each way. It is open to inspection of the citizens, and has been an object of curiosity to many, who, from the exhibition seem satisfied of the practicability of executing the proposed Rail-Road from this model. Those who sincerely doubted before, had their doubts entirely removed on this interesting subject."
Next came two surveys beween Charleston and Hamburgh. These reports were laid before the citizens on March 15, 1828. The results were conclusive - a railroad was definitely preferred to a canal. This was based upon "relative costs, convenience, expedition, liability to interruptions by ordinary casualties, expense of attendance and repairs." The estimated total cost at that point in time was $600,000.
Estimates of projected income were made and it showed - on paper - that a railroad would provide an annual return of 19% - not bad for such an investment, especially since the Panic of 1819 was still stinging to many merchants in Charleston. Here was the remedy for Charleston's commercial troubles. It was under these conditions that the books were opened for the subscription of stock on March 17, 1828 - St. Patrick's Day - in the towns of Charleston, Hamburgh, Columbia, and Camden.
The capital stock was composed of seven thousand (7,000) shares, with the right of increasing this to not more than twenty thousand (20,000) shares. At the closing of the books it was found that no shares were taken at Hamburgh, Columbia, or Camden. At Charleston, however, the total subscribed was $350,000. The conditions of the charter had been satisfied and the stockholders began to organize.
An election of officers was held with the following results: President - William Aiken; Directors - Alexander Black, Thomas Bennett, Joseph Johnson, John Gadsden, A.S. Willington, E.L. Miller, T. Tupper, William Bell, John Robinson, Thomas Napier, Henry S. Faber, and James Holmes. Edwin P. Starr was elected as Secretary.
One of the first official acts of the newly-elected officers was to appoint a "Committe of Inquiry," composed of Thomas Bennett, John Gadsden, Alexander Black, T. Tupper, Thomas Napier, and Joseph Johnson, to gather data and opinions on the following points: the location of the road, the materials of construction, with the probably cost of these, the protection of the work in progress, and at its completion against decay and accidents; the condition on which the land to be occupied would be ceded to the company; and as a preliminary, the sum of talent, which could be called into requisition for surveying, leveling, etc.
This committe reported back on November 11, 1828, after correspondence to the known railroad world of the time - both in New England and in the United Kingdom. In addition, one of the board members, E.L. Miller, visited the United Kingdom to make observations as to railroad and motive power development of the times.
Meanwhile, the two surveyors had returned with their recommendations on the route. They found that the summit between Charleston and Hamburgh was 375 feet above Hamburgh and 545 feet above Charleston Neck at the Lines. This summit was 123 miles from Charleston by public road and 17 miles from Hamburgh. Obviously, the grade on the Hamburgh side presented serious difficulties. However, Colonel Blanding thought this could be overcome in several ways, depending on the type of power adopted. In case the locomotive was used, an inclined plane with a stationary engine would be necessary; in the case of horse power, this could be dispensed with.
The latter "Committee of Inquiry" gave additional information and suggestions. It stated that the most direct course to Hamburgh "presented numerous and very serious local and geographical obstructions," and recommended a line to the north of it running along the ridge of land "between the Edisto River, and its southern branch, and the Saltcatcher [sic] and its tributary streams, commencing at or near Givhan's Ferry, and terminating in Barnwell District, near Horse Pen Pond. This route, while it increased the distance by a few miles, possessed "such obvious facilities for the construction, the repaird, and the permanency of the work as to entitle it to exclusive consideration." The location of the line between Givhan's Ferry and Charleston would have to be determined after a more thorough examination.
In November, the company engaged Colonel J.B. Petitval to survey the route between Charleston and Givhan's Ferry, with instructions to "take the courses and distances of the most desirable routes, and ascertain the elevations and depressions of the ground over which such preferred routes may pass," and in addition, to furnish a "description of timber....especially the yellow pine, cypress, live-oak and lightwood. Likewise, the nature of the soil, particularly the low ground, whether firm, clay, bottom, or deep, vegetable mould or sand."
At the same time, company president William Aiken made an application to the U.S. War Department for a corps of engineers. Colonel William Howard, assistant engineer, who had recently been engaged by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, together with a suitable number of assistants, was detached for this service.
The report of Colonel Howard was made on August 27, 1829, and that of Colonel Petitval on October 10, 1829. Both confirmed the findings of each other and the final leg of the route was decided upon.
In the summer of 1829, the company employed Horatio Allen as Chief Engineer to begin work in September. In a report to the company on December 17, 1830, he recommended a location to the eastward of the routes surveyed by both Colonel Howard and Colonel Petitval. His proposed route amendment was advantageous on several points. It ran closer to Columbia, presented fewer variations from the regular line of ascent, arrived sooner at the section of the country which was to furnish the requisite materials for construction, secured more favorable concessions from the land-holders on the first five miles, and avoided the expense of crossing the Ashley River.
Within six miles of the river, the route attained the summit of the ridge running parallel with the river and forming the sources of the southern branch of the Edisto River as well as the tributaries of the Savannah River. This ridge was followed until the head waters of Horse Creek were intercepted. From there, the route descended the valleys of Wise's Creek and Big Horse Creek to the Savannah River about one and a half miles below Hamburgh. The highest surface passed over was 513 above sea level, which elevation was attained at various rates of ascent, in a few instances reaching thirty feet per mile. At 114 miles from Charleston, the line began its descent into the valley of the Savannah and proceeded to Hamburgh. The distance from Charleston to Hamburgh was estimated to be about 135 miles, or roughly fourteen miles shorter than the earlier planned route.
When the road was built, even this new plan was changed some. The highest elevation attained was 510 feet above sea level, which was about 119 miles from Charleston and sixteen miles from Hamburgh. From here, the road descended 360 feet to the Augusta bridge. The first 3,800 feet of this descent was extremely abrupt, being approximately 180 feet. The locomotives unaided could not pull trains over such a grade; consequently, it was necessary to build an inclined plane over this entire distance. The plane had three grades of descent, the steepest of which was one in thirteen, and was laid with a double track. At the top was places stationary steam power, which, by means of a cable and a crank raised and lowered the cars over the inclination. Obviously, this was a slow and costly scheme, but it was accepted as the most practicable method available at that time. From the foot of the inclined plane to Hamburgh, the inclination of the road did not exceed eighteen feet per mile.
Along with the location of the route was the tedious problem of securing the right-of-way and the necessary building materials. Every attempt was made to keep the current land owners satisfied with the project, but from the start it was clear that the only folks who really wanted the new railroad were in Charleston. This was evident from the stock subscriptions at the onset of the company.
As a result, even Horatio Allen's new route had many modifications due to uncooperative land owners. He stated that the first five miles had to be changed as soon as land acquistion commenced. The richer lands bordering the rivers were held in large tracts by wealthy proprietors, who had water transportation for their crops to Charleston. At Barnwell, Barney Brown, the leading man of the village as well as a large landholder refused to sell his property, and as a result the route was changed to run through Blackville, ten miles away.
Nevertheless, the evidence is conclusive that most of the land owners were as a whole very accommodating. The small farmers, scattered over the land on the ridges and without facilities for travel and for marketing their produce looked upon the railroad as a great boon, and welcomed it with gifts of land. Many gave the new railroad company the use of their slaves and all the timber they could get from the right-of-way on their lands.
As far as actual track construction is concerned, the "Committee of Inquiry" offered several suggestions. Colonel Blanding recommended that the timbers for rails should be shaped as a wedge, with an upper surface of 2-1/4", a lower surface of nine to ten inches, and the mean horizontal of six inches. The upper edge of the rail should be covered with a plate of iron, thus no surface would be exposed to the weather. Where the ground was soft, he recommended that the transverse timbers be supported by well-driven piles - with the rails to be so far elevated above the ground as to admit a free circulation of air beneath them.
Robert Mills recommended that the piles be driven into the earth at a distance of from eight to ten feet of each other and of such height that the rails would be six to twelve inches above the surface of the ground to prevent premature decay. Horatio Allen recommended that the piling system to provide the foundation of the road, the piles to be driven six feet apart - his recommendation was adopted.
Actual construction began at Line Street on January 8, 1830. Pilings were 6'-6" apart along the line, and six (6) feet apart laterally, caps and ties morticed on the piles 6" x 9", nine feet long, and rails the same size, notched onto these ties and wedged on the inner side. Upon the edge of these wooden rails, iron bars 2-1/2" wide and one-half inch thick were spiked. The rails were placed five feet apart. Horatio Allen wanted to use iron with a flange on the inner edge, but the cost was too great for the entire distance. It was used, however, on curves, which were few and small in extent.
For motive power, the company looked at both the use of horses and at steam engines. Horatio Allen, once again, made the pursuasive argument for steam locomotion. E.L. Miller, on the board of directors, was also a staunch advocate of steam locomotives, and he had visited England to find out the latest breakthroughs in this infant technology. Early in 1830, he proposed to the board that he would construct an engine on his own responsibility equal to the best then in use anywhere, including in England. On March 1, 1830, the company accepted his offer.
The new engine was built during the summer of 1830 at the West Point Foundry, Beach and West Streets, New York City, NY. It was described:
"The Best Friend of Charleston was a four wheel engine, all four wheels drivers. Two inclined cylinders at an angle working down on a double crank, inside of the frame, with the wheel outside the frame, each wheel connecting together outside, with outside rods. The wheels were iron hub, wooden spokes and felloes, with iron tire, and iron web and pin in the wheels to connect the outside rod to.
The boiler was a vertical one, in the form of an old fashioned porter bottle, the furnace at the bottom surrounded with water, and all filled inside full of what we called teats, running out from the sides and top, with alternate stays to support the crown of the furnace; the smoke and gas passing out through the sides at several points, into an outside jacket; which had the chimney on it...... The cylinders were about six inches in the bore, and sixteen inches stroke. Wheels about four and a half feet in diameter. The whole machine weighed about four and a half tons."
It arrived in Charleston on the boat Niagara on October 23, 1830. As no competent machinist was sent with the locomotive, the company secured the services of Dotterer & Eason, local machinists and engineers, to put the machine together and prepare it for the road. For this task, Julius D. Petsch, foreman of the workshops, was selected. He in turn selected as his assistant, Nicholas W. Darrell, who had just completed his apprenticeship in the workshops. These two had the engine ready within a few days and made several experimental runs.
On November 2, 1830, with Darrell in charge, E.L. Miller, accompanied by several other gentlemen, made a trial trips on which it was found that the wheels were too weak for the lateral strains exerted upon them in rounding curves, and they had to be replaced. After this was done, the performance was again tested on December 9th, when it proved satisfactory and was therefore accepted.
On December 14-15, the engine was again tried and proved its power and speed to be double that contracted for; running at the rate of sixteen to twenty-one miles an hour, with forty to fifty passengers in some four or five cars, and without the cars, thirty to thirty-five miles per hour. The formal public debut was made on Christmas Day of 1830, hauling one hundred and forty one (141) passengers. The trip ended at the forks of State and Dorchester roads where the engine was turned around "as nimbly as a maid of sixteen."
On the return, they reached Sans Souci in "quick and double time, stopped to take up a recruiting party - darted forth like a live rocket, scattering sparks and flames on either side - passed over three salt water creeks, hop, step and jump, and landed us all safe at the Lines before any of us had time to determine whether or not it was prudent to be scared."
The first contract for actual construction of the track was let on December 28, 1829 to Messrs. Gifford, Holcomb & Company for four miles - work began on January 9, 1830 at Line Street on the outskirts of Charleston. Only six miles of the road was completed in 1830.
While relatively little construction was finished in 1830, several important phases of the project were being worked out. During that year 2,500 more shares of stock were sold, bringing the total subscriptions to 6,000 shares and bringing in the necessary capital to continue. One thousand and forty (1,040) tons of iron were ordered from Liverpool, and several civil engineers were engaged to finally locate the road, and to prepare specifications for the letting of additional contracts. Moreover, the exact type of construction had been definitely decided upon.
During 1831, the entire line was placed under contract and the work was pushed with all possible speed. The construction force reached 1,300, with more than 100 more employed on building locomotives. The road was actually in operation from Charleston to Woodstock, a distance of fifteen miles, carrying both mail and passengers.
The line was opened to Branchville on November 7, 1832, a distance of sixty-two miles, and three months later, February 7, 1833, to Midway, a distance of seventy-two miles. Nine turnouts, or passing places, had been constructed, and twelve pump or watering plaes were established. On October 3, 1833, the entire distance was finally completed and opened for passengers.
By then, the president of the company was Elias Horry, and he delivered a ceremonial speech on October 2, 1833. The next day, he and Governor Robert Y. Hayne left Charleston at 5:45 am and arrived at Aikenville, one hundred and twenty miles, at 5:00 pm. The car with the Augusta mail and the passengers "was let down the Inclined Plane" and arrived at Hamburgh about 8:00 p.m.
At each of the sixteen turnouts, each an average of six hundred and fifty (650) feet long, were established pumps and wood sheds. Six (6) water tanks, thirteen (13) depositories, and five (5) revolving platforms were erected. Three side tracks were built at the Charleston depository, ranging from four hundred and fifty (450) to six hundred and fifty (650) feet, and one mile of double track was laid at the inclined plane. At completion, the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad was the longest railroad in the world and twice as long as any other railroad in the United States.
Prior to this large-scale construction, there were few resources in America that had any prior "railroad construction" experience, and none within the state of South Carolina or its neighbors to the north or south. Many lessons were learned and many mistakes were made, found, and ultimately corrected. And, these lessons learned were promptly provided to the next round of railroad constructors - the state now had more resources with actual "railroad construction" experience than any other state in the Union.
In spite of all of the difficulties encountered over the course of two and a half (2-1/2) years of actual construction, no accident occurred involving either the loss of life or limbs of any of the workmen employed. Moreover, not a single death had been reported among all the laborers even from the usual diseases or the climate changes. These facts are phenomenal, especially when applied to the times and the state-of-the-art new technology being advanced on a daily basis.
In the semi-annual report of November 1833, John T. Robertson - Secretary, presented a detailed statement of the total expenditures from the beginning through Octover 31, 1833 - a total of $951,148.36. A tad bit more than the original estimate of $600,000 prepared on March 15, 1828.
Financing the project was unique, to say the least. The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company saw little help outside of the city of Charleston, from the outset. The corporate officials decided to approach the United States Congress for assistance in lowering the import duty on iron, and this was secured in a timely fashion. However, this more than irritated those in the state General Assembly, all strongly in favor of "state's rights" issues of the times and not wanting to admit that any form of "federal government" should interfere, even in the building of a privately-held railroad company within its state.
The corporate officials went so far as to really press these buttons by actually requesting that the United States Congress provide assistance financing in the construction of this railroad, but those who had been approached simply let the matter die without taking any overt action against the "state's rights" gentlemen from the Hotspur State.
The "movers and shakers" within Charleston at that time stepped up to the bar and quickly offered whatever financing was necessary - they immediately realized that their future was in their own hands, to heck with the rest of the state and the federal government. However, several Charleston subscribers failed to make their payments, some from death, some from other misfortunes. The Charleston newspapers remained on top of the financial issues and kept the locals informed when new subscriptions were needed to keep things rolling.
Although the "Best Friend" had proved a tremendous success, it had scarcely been put in operation before a second engine, the "West Point," was ordered from the same foundry in the fall of 1830. It was completed early in 1831 and arrived at Charleston on the ship LaFayette on Monday, February 28th.
The "West Point" had the same size of engine, frame, wheels, and cranks, as the "Best Friend," but had a horizontal tubular boiler. The tubes were 2-1/2" in diameter and about six (6) feet long. It was given its first trial five days after its arrival.
"On Saturday afternoon, March 5, 1831, the locomotive "West Point" underwent a trial of speed, with a barrier car and four cars for passengers...."
The barrier car was a car upon which six square bales of cotton were strapped by means of a hoop of iron. It was run with every passenger train, and was placed between the locomotive and passenger cars as a means of protection from steam or hot water should an accident occur.
The "West Point" was not completely satisfactory to the new owners. However, it was put to regular work on July 15, 1831 and remained in service until June 4, 1833, when it was taken off for the purpose of introducing an outside arrangement of its machinery.
Horatio Allen busied himself during these months by improving the "West Point." He also came up with many ideas for the manufacturer to consider when designing the next version that he wanted to put into service. Allen's biggest concerns were weight distribution and power output. He recommended that the next engine be placed on six or eight wheels such that the weight be limited to one and a half tons per axle.
Allen had to do a "hard sell" to the corporate officers - for his ideas were going to cost more, but in the end they agreed with him. He left Charleston in the early summer and went north to meet with the West Point Foundry. They were instantly on board with his ideas and they agreed to a contract.
The first one built in this configuration was the "South Carolina." It arrived in Charleston in January of 1832, and was put to work on February 24th. But, it did not prove very successful. Much trouble and delay were caused from the breakage of pipes, and the cast iron and wooden wheels had to be replaced with cast iron wheels with wrought iron tires. The axles broke several times. Finally, the boiler failed on December 27, 1832. It was put back on the road the following April, but then it was found necessary to construct new frames which had always been too weak, and to alter the boiler somewhat.
The fourth engine was the "Charleston," which was received in March of 1833, but due to the fact that the boiler required additional work it was not put to work until September. Some difficulty was had with the draught, which was supposed to have been caused by the smallness of the flues, but which was in fact due to imperfections of the smoke stack and discharge pipes. Much trouble was experienced from the inadequate strength of the valve gearing.
Two other engines, the "Barnwell" and the "Edisto," were put into operations before the whole length of the road was completed. Like the two preceding, both of these had eight wheels. The first was put into operation in June of 1833, and the second, in September. The only difficulties experienced with the "Barnwell" was the valve gearing and the pump. The "Edisto" performed satisfactorily.
In addition to the locomotives above, the company had by November of 1833, accumulated eight (8) passenger cars, fifty-six (56) freight cars, fourteen (14) tender cars, eleven (11) lumber cars, one (1) fire light, and numerous sets of wheels and springs.
Once the entire line was fully operational, the company could now begin to assess just how much things were going to cost with respect to "operations and maintenance." Estimates were developed by just about everyone associated with the construction of the railroad, and everyone did their best to be conservative. And, every one of them were soon proven quite wrong.
The pile system of construction had definite advantages, but it was the first "item" to be altogether inadequate in the real world. The timbers decayed rapidly at the surface of the ground, which necessitated continuous and expensive repairs. Further, the fact that the road was elevated made accidents in the case of derailment much more serious. These conditions led the board of directors to abandon the plan in favor of embankments and trestles.
The work associated with making this change was begun in early 1834, and by the end of 1835 it was stated that there were seventy-seven (77) miles of surface road, and three (3) miles filled up between three (3) and four (4) feet. The finances of the company forced them to tackle the entire line slowly, and it was not completely redone in the embankment fashion until the first part of 1839, at a total cost of an additional $463,132.58.
The iron bars also proved unsatisfactory. In 1835, it was reported that "great activity and vigilance are required to keep the surface of the Road in order, the iron rail being too light and elastic, to be properly secured, and being much embedded in the wooden rail." The subject was taken up at the directors' meeting on January 21, 1836, and it was decided that new iron rails were necessary and they spelled out the dimensions. By July of 1837, the new rail had been laid on fifty-four (54) miles of the road. One year later, ninety-one (91) miles had been laid, and the following year the entire road had new rails.
Another source of concern was the "Inclined Plan" and the stationary engine at Aiken. Several changes were made, primarily in replacing the stationary engine with a steam locomotive, which effected the passing of trains over the plane by "taking the end of a rope opposite the train to be passed over, coming up when the train is let down, and descending when the train is brought up." The owners seriously looked into eliminating the inclined plane altogether, but by 1843 it was still operational.
The Barrel Car was constructed for both passengers and freight. It was made with staves grooved and dove-tailed together and supported by six iron hoops, two inches wide, by a half inch thick, doors at both ends. The passenger car was thirty (30) feet long with a portico at each end, two and one-half feet long. The diameter in the center was nine feet, and at the ends eight feet. The staves were 1-1/4" boards, five to six inches wide, extending the whole length of the car. There were twenty (20) windows on each side 15" x 30", glazed - the sash passing up over head.
The freight cars were at first constructed twenty-one (21) feet long, but were soon changed to thirty (30) feet with a capacity of forty (40) to forty-five (45) bales of cotton or fifteen thousand (15,000) pounds of other goods. It was thought that these cars would be invaluable to the company "being much lighter, cheaper and more durable than the square form."
In the amended 1828 charter, passenger rates were fixed at five (5) cents per mile, but soon after the railroad became operational it was determined that this was too cheap. The company had to petition the Legislature for a rate increase, which was finally granted in December of 1838. Freight rates were increased during this timeframe also, but in 1841 the company had to reduce rates to attract new customers.
Railroad fever hit the entire nation soon after the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad was operational. Ideas floated from the ridiculous to the sublime, but the one taking the most urgent form was to connect Charleston to the Ohio River Valley.
Apparently, the first suggestion was made in 1827 or 1828 by E.S. Thomas, then of Cincinnati and formerly of Charleston. He advanced the idea of a railroad from Cincinnati across the mountains to connect with the recently chartered Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad.
The directors and agents of the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company gave encouragement to this idea. The directors saw such an idea not only in increased profits for their railroad, but the probable establishment of Charleston as one of the chief Atlantic cities for the imports and exports of the "Great West."
Company president Elias Horry attended a convention at Estilville, VA in June of 1831 to discuss the most useful route "to connect the trade of the Ohio River with the great valley of the Tennessee, and with the Southern States."
He went into some detail to show that railroad connections with the West was highly desirable to avoid the dangerous and expensive navigation of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, and that Charleston was better situated for extensive commerce than any other city on the sea coast from New York to New Orleans.
The Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad was chartered in 1835, but when the state of Kentucky got involved it made several demands that necessitated a change in this charter. On December 21, 1836 it was rechartered as the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad, which was quickly organized and soon thereafter rolling.
The first order of business after organizing was to go obtain a decent arrangement with the existing railroad within the state of South Carolina - the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad - owned by the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. To make a long story short, the latter offered to sell all of its stock to the new Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Company, and they quickly accepted the offer. This was formally executed on December 28, 1837 - and the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad company now had an operational line - the Charleston & Hamburgh Railroad, which retained its line name.
Payment was made one-third in immediate cash, one-third at the end of one year, and the remaining third a the end of two years, with interest from date of transfer, secured by mortgage of the property. The new company was to assume all of the railroad-related obligations of the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company. The company continued to operate the Santee Canal, which was in its original charter. But for now, it was out of the railroad business.
Excerpted with edits from "Centennial History of South Carolina Railroad" by Samuel Melanchthon Derrick, 1930.