South Carolina Railroads - Charleston & Savannah Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Charleston, SC

Savannah, GA

1856 Map
* 1866 - Re-organized as the Savannah & Charleston Railroad.

Originally conceived as a means to stave off commercial isolation in Charleston and Savannah by placing both cities on the shortest trade route between the Northeast and the Gulf Coast, the Charleston & Savannah Railraod was chartered in 1854 by a coalition of lowcountry planters, merchants, and politicians. The first president of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad was Thomas Drayton.

There was little local support for this railroad since neither of its two cities wanted to improve the prospects of the other in their continuing competition to be the major port of the southeast.

Construction was aided by state government funding and completed by crews of slaves just prior to the onset of the U.S. Civil War. Following the Union capture of Port Royal in November of 1861, the railroad’s importance became not only economic but also logistical as a communications line and troop transport for the Confederacy. From November of 1861 to March of 1862, while commanding coastal forces, General Robert E. Lee supervised construction of the line’s fortifications and situated his headquarters near it at Coosawhatchie in the Beaufort District.

The railroad was essential in containing Union attacks on Charleston after the capture of Beaufort. In total the C&S was the objective of eight battles and skirmishes with Union forces—including the Battles of Pocotaligo in May and October of 1862 and the Battle of Honey Hill in November of 1864. It was not until Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army took Savannah in December of 1864 that the Union forces had the strength to mount a successful campaign against the railroad, which it totally destroyed on its march through South Carolina. All that Sherman's troops left was a right-of-way and a roadbed.

Left in financial ruin after the Civil War, the C&S faced a series of bankruptcies before its route’s eventual incorporation into one of the most important commercial transportation arteries on the eastern seaboard. The road was sold at foreclosure in October of 1866, for $30,000 cash to Mr. Joseph H. Taylor representing the bondholders. Renamed to the Savannah & Charleston Railroad, it was totally rebuilt at a cost of $2,238,200 after the war and reopened in the Spring of 1869.

A default in 1873, brought on by the Panic of 1873, led to yet another receivership, after which it was sold in 1880 to Henry B. Plant. He changed the name to the Charleston and Savannah Railway that same year. The railroad became a key property in his Plant System of railway and steamship lines.

Towns on Route (in SC):


Wilkes (1870s)

Johns Island (1857)

Stono (1882) > Johns Island #2 (1903)


New Road (1875)

Logansville (1850s)

Ravenels (1870s)

Meggett (1893)

Younges Island (1888)

Adams Run

Osborne (1878)

Parkers Ferry (1909)

Pon Pon (1892)


Ashepoo (1870)

Green Pond (1859)

White Hall (1872)

Salkehatchie (1876)

Saltketchers Bridge

Yemassee (1868)



Ridgeland (1880s)


Switzerland (1901)


SC/GA State Line

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