South Carolina Railroads - Street Railways - Charleston

The following nine (9) known "Street Railways" were operational in the city of Charleston from 1865 to 1938, when the last line ceased operations. As also shown below, three (3) different electric railways were planned from Charleston to Summerville, but none ever materialized.

Click Here to view/download a three-page writeup from the Street Railway Journal of 1894 about the street railways of Charleston and Sullivan's Island.

Charleston City Railway

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1861

1865

1897

18 miles

The Charleston City Railway was incorporated on January 28, 1861, but due to the impending U.S. Civil War nothing happened for over five years. After hostilities ceased, a frantic construction effort was launched and this line opened for business on October 15, 1866. Tracks ran from the foot of Broad Street at the Exchange Building on East Bay Street, west on Broad to Meeting Street, north to Calhoun Street, west to King Street, then north to Shepard Street. A second line left Meeting and Hasell streets running west one block to King Street, north to Calhoun Street, west to Rutledge Avenue and north again to Line Street.

At one point in time, the Charleston City Railway operated up to eighteen (18) miles of track, thirty-nine (39) horsecars, and a stable of 144 horses plus one lone mule. John S. Riggs was the only president and actively served from 1861 to 1897, the entire duration of horsecar service in the city of Charleston.


John S. Riggs - 1894

In 1881, this company's charter was renewed. In 1894, the charter was amended to allow the track to extend six miles out of the city limits. In 1894, the company was authorized to generate electricity for the public.

The Street Railway Journal of November 1885 reported that the Charleston City Railway had 8-1/2 miles of track operational, the president was John S. Riggs, the treasurer was Evan Edwards, the secretary was Frank Whilden, and the Superintendent was John Mohlenhoff.

The Street Railway Journal of 1892 reported that the Charleston City Railway had thirteen (13) miles of track operational, 28 box cars, 11 open cars. Officers included President John S. Riggs, Secretary-Treasurer Frank F. Whilden, and Superintendent John Mohlenhoff.

The Street Railway Journal of 1894 reported that the Charleston City Railway had eighteen (18) miles of track operational, 28 box cars, 11 open cars, and 144 horses. Officers same as 1892. The same journal reported that the Charleston City Railway has recently received permission to equip its line with electric power. The road, it is said, will be sold to a syndicate.

The Street Railway Review of 1895 reported that John B. Hoefgen and Edgar Moxliam, representing a Brooklyn Syndicate, have bought the Charleston City Railway Company and the Enterprise Railroad Company. The lines will be consolidated and equipped for electric traction. Mr. Hoefgen will be permanently located here.

The American Street Railway Investment magazine of 1897 reported that the Charleston City Railway has 14.3 miles of track (horse), 144 horses, and 39 horse cars made by Stephenson. Capital Stock $100,000.

With electrification looming on everyone's mind, it was imperative that the two horse-drawn street railways must merge, and this was completed in early 1897. The Enterprise Street Railway was absorbed into the Charleston City Railway. As shown below, a new company was established in 1896 known as the Charleston Street Railway Company, but within a year, it was re-established with the earlier name simply as the Charleston City Railway Company.

Enterprise Rail Road of Charleston (aka Enterprise Street Railway)

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1870

1874

1897

14 miles

The Enterprise Rail Road Company of Charleston was incorporated on March 1, 1870. By 1885, the company operated over twelve (12) miles of track between King Street and the banks of the Cooper River north of Broad Street. They also operate twenty-seven (27) passenger cars and ten (10) freight cars which were pulled by horses and/or mules. The presidents of the company were: Timothy Hurley, A. Canale, S. B. Pickens, A. F. Ravenel, and Theodore W. Passailaigue.

In 1871, the company was authorized to connect to the South Carolina Railroad and to the Northeastern Railroad, and it was authorized to issue bonds to help fund construction. In 1894, the charter was extended for an additional thirty (30) years, and the company was authorized to increase its capital stock.

The Street Railway Journal of November 1885 reported that the Enterprise Rail Road had twelve (12) miles of track operational, the president was A.F. Ravenel, the Secretary & Treasurer was W.E. Hayne, and the Superintendent was Theodore W. Passailaigue.

The Street Railway Review of January 1891 reported that George Layton is constructing the Five-Mile House extension of the Enterprise Street Railway.

The Street Railway Journal of 1892 reported that the Enterprise Rail Road Company had eleven (11) miles of track operational, 25 passenger cars, and 10 freight cars. Officers include President & General Manager T.W. Passailaigue and Sectetary & Treasurer W.E. Hayne.

The Street Railway Journal of 1893 reported that President Passailaigue, of the Enterprise Street Railway Company, says that the Great Western Electric Company, of Chicago, makes an offer to gain control of the line and electrify. M.K. Jessup, of New York, who now owns control will accede. W. P. Williams, of the Great Western Electric Company, Chicago, closes deal for the Enterprise Street Railway.

The Street Railway Journal of 1894 reported that the Enterprise Rail Road had 13-1/2 miles of track operational, 35 cars, 87 horses, and 16 mules. Officers included President & General Manager T.W. Passailaigue and Secretary-Treasurer P.J. Balaguer.

On January 4, 1894, the Charleston City Railway renewed its charter with the authority to use electric power.

The Street Railway Review of 1895 reported that John B. Hoefgen and Edgar Moxliam, representing a Brooklyn Syndicate, have bought the Charleston City Railway Company and the Enterprise Railroad Company. The lines will be consolidated and equipped for electric traction. Mr. Hoefgen will be permanently located here.

The Street Railway Review of 1896 reported: "The Enterprise Railway Company, Charleston, SC, is making Tuxedo Park popular as a Sunday resort, by carrying all persons free who wish to go to the park between the hours of three and four on Sunday afternoon. An excellent band of music has been secured and sacred concerts are given each Sunday. The park has been greatly improved recently."

The American Street Railway Investment magazine of 1897 reported that the Enterprise Street Railroad was chartered March 1, 1870. The company had 14 miles of track (horse), 104 horses, and 35 horse cars made by Brill, Jones, and Stephenson. Capital Stock authorized $1,000,000, issued $250,000.

With electrification looming on everyone's mind, it was imperative that the two horse-drawn street railways must merge, and this was completed by early 1897. The Enterprise Street Railway was absorbed into the Charleston City Railway. As shown below, a new company was established in 1896 known as the Charleston Street Railway Company, but within a year, it was re-established with the earlier name simply as the Charleston City Railway Company.

Charleston Street Railway Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1896

1897

1897

30 miles

The American Street Railway Investments magazine of 1897 reported: "The Charleston Street Railway Company now controls the entire street railway mileage of Charleston, having purchased in Jan. and Feb., 1897, the entire capital stock and bonds of the Enterprise Street R. R. Co., and the entire capital stock and bonds of the Charleston City Ry. Co. Extensions are being made, and the property is now being equipped by electricity."

This short-lived company was a merger of the earlier Charleston City Railway and the Enterprise Rail Road, and within a year, it was re-chartered with the name of the Charleston City Railway Company.

Charleston City Railway Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1897

1897

1899

30 miles

On June 26, 1897, the first electric streetcars began operations in the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

The American Street Railway Investments magazine of 1898 reported that the Charleston City Railway Company had 30 miles of track (electric), 40 motor cars, and 15 trail cars made by Brille, Jones, and Stephenson. Officers include - President John G. McCullough, Secretary-Treasurer & Purchasing Agent F. D. McEowen, Auditor P. J. Balaguer, and General Superintendent Theodore W. Passailaigue.

This same magazine also reported that the Charleston City Railway Company purchased the Enterprise Street Railroad Company and the Charleston Street Railway Company in 1897. Extensions have been made, and the property has been equipped by electricity.

The Street Railway Journal of January 1898 reported: "Charleston, SC - Sperry, Jones & Company, of Baltimore, have concluded the purchase of the first mortgage bonds of the Charleston City Railway Company. It is understood that R. B. Sperry and Charles R. Spence, vice-president of the Mercantile Trust Company, of Baltimore, will enter the board of directors of the railway company."

The Amercian Street Railways Investments of 1899 reported that this company had 30 miles of track (electric), 40 motor cars, 15 trail cars, and its cars were made by Laclede and American Car Company, when it was merged into the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company in 1899.

Charleston & Seashore Railroad

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1898

1899

1899

10 miles

The Charleston & Seashore Railroad was organized on February 10, 1898. As the company began to lay out its route through Mount Pleasant, it purchased the Middle Street Sullivan's Island Railway. Electrification of the line started immediately. When completed, tracks ran from the ferry landing on Hog Island through the town of Mount Pleasant, across a trestle and swing bridge to Sullivan's Island, then down Middle Street and across the inlet to the Isle of Palms and northward to the amusement park along the shore near the middle of Isle of Palms island.

The Charleston & Seashore Railroad employed Jackson & Sharp passenger cars, both motorized and trail cars, exclusively.

The Street Railway Journal of December 1898 reported: "Mr. L. D. Mathes, who was formerly connected with the Norfolk & Ocean View Railway, of Norfolk, Va., has recently been appointed manager of the Charleston & Seashore Railroad, of Charleston, SC. Mr. Mathes made an excellent record at Norfolk, and the Charleston & Seashore Railroad is to be congratulated upon having secured his services."

Click Here to view/download an Adobe PDF file containing an 1899 pamphlet about the Charleston & Seashore Railroad and associated attractions.

The Amercian Street Railways Investments of 1899 reported that this company had 10 miles of track (electric) when it was merged into the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company in 1899.

1899, merged with the Charleston City Railway to become the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company. However, the line retained the name of the Charleston & Seashore Railroad (aka Charleston & Sea Shore Rail Road) until it was sold to the Charleston-Isle of Palms Railroad in 1913.

Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electic Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1899

1899

1910

43 miles


From the American Street Railways Investments magazine of 1899 (page 52)

The Amercian Street Railways Investments of 1899 reported on page 52: "Chartered in 1899, for the purpose of effecting a consolidation of the Charleston City Ry. Co., and the Charleston & Sea Shore R. R. Co. It is stated this consolidation has been accomplished." Capital Stock $1,500,000.

The same magazine added in their addenda (page 294): "This company is a consolidation of the Charleston City Ry. Co., Charleston & Sea Shore R. R. Co., The Charleston Edison Light & Power Co., and the Charleston Gaslight Co. Officers — Pres. Dr. J. F. Lawrence, V. Pres. Francis K. Carey (Baltimore, Md.), Sec. & Treas. J. Bannister Hall (Baltimore, Md.), Aud'r P. J. Balaguer, Gen. Man. Nicholas S. Hill, Supt. Theodore W. Passailaigue. Date of information, May 29, 1899."

At the time of the merger the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had a total of forty-one (41) miles of track. Cars ran essentially north-south on Rutledge Avenue, King Street, Meeting Street, and East Bay Street, and cross town (east-west) on Broad Street, Calhoun Street and Shepard Street. The Belt Line was created to encircle the city in 1899, and it ran along Broad Street to East Bay Street, uptown to St. John Street, west to King Street, north to Shepard Street, west to Rutledge Avenue, then south on Rutledge Avenue back to Broad Street.

The American Street Railways Investments magazine of 1900 reported on pages 52-53: "This company is a consolidation, Feb. 1899, of the Charleston City Ry. Co. and the Charleston & Seashore R. R. Co., and controls the entire street railway system of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms, and is also the owner of the Charleston Gas Light Co., the Charleston-Edison Light & Power Co., the Mt. Pleasant St Sullivan's Island Ferry Co. and the Middle Street, Sullivan's Island R. R. Co." The company operates 34.25 miles of track (electric), 53 motor cars and 35 trail cars - Jackson & Sharp, Laclede and American cars. Officers include - President Francis K. Carey, Vice-President P.H. Gadsden, Secretary & Treasurer J. Bannister Hall, and General Manager Nicholas S. Hill, Jr. Offices at 141 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC.

The American Street Railways Investments magazine of 1902 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had 36 miles of track (electric) and 61 motor cars and 30 trail cars made by Jackson & Sharp, Laclede, and American Cars. Capital stock $1,500,000.

The Street and Electric Railways Census of December 1902 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company owned and operated 34.42 miles of track and had $1,500,000 in capital stock.

From 1901 to 1902, the city of Charleston hosted the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, a regional trade expo. Click Here to view/download an article provided in the Street Railway Review of 1902 describing how Charleston employed street railways to help manage this exposition.


South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition - Charleston Street Railways Map of 1902

As described below, the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company set up a separate corporation for this exposition.

The American Street Railway Investments magazine of 1903 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had 34 miles of track (electric) and 61 motor cars and 16 trail cars - Jackson & Sharp, Laclede, and American cars. Officers include - President P. H. Gadsden, Managing Director S. H. Wilson, and Secretary & Auditor P. J. Balaguer. Offices at 141 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC. Information as of March 1903.

The American Street Railway Investments magazines of 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1910 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had 41 miles of track (electric) and 61 motor cars and 16 trail cars - Jackson & Sharp, Laclede, American, and Brill (1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910) cars. Officers and location of offices same as 1903 except in 1909 the Secretary & Auditor was C. J. Bendt. Information as of May 1904, April 1905, May 1906, May 1907, May 1908, May 1909, and April 1910.

The Street & Electric Railways Census of 1907 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had 36.23 miles of track in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms, with $1,500,000 in capital stock.

The Street Railway Journal of November 1907 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company had 41 miles of track and 77 cars.

In 1910, the leased Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company operated forty-three (43) miles of track, with eighty-four (84) motorized cars, eight (8) trailers, three (3) freight cars, one (1) work car, and four (4) flat cars. Four years later, the company operated thirty-five (35) miles of track, with sixty-three (63) motorized cars, six (6) trailers, one (1) freight car, and one (1) work car.

The Electric Traction Weekly magazine of February 12, 1910 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company has secured the permission of the city council to extend its line from the junction of Heriot Street and the right-of-way of the Southern Railway, thence westward to Rutledge Avenue, down Rutledge Avenue to Spring Street, thence westward on Spring Street to President Street, down President Street to Doughty Street, thence on Doughty Street eastward to Lucas Street, thence down Lucas Street to Calhoun Street, thence eastward on Calhoun Street to connection with its tracks on Rutledge Avenue, so that the company may operate a line over the route down into the center of the city. According to the ordinance some of the route must be double track, and the work must be begun within two months. The company is also required to finish double tracking its Navy Yard line from the city limits to the Five-Mile house within two years, and to make certain other extensions."

The Electric Railway Journal of October 28, 1911 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, Charleston, SC — This company has placed in operation its extension from Magnolia Cemetery to the Country Club, near Charleston."

The Poor's Manual of Public Utilities and Street Railways of 1915 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company operated 34.34 miles of track, and on Jan. 1, 1910, the company was leased for ninety-nine (99) years to the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company.

Exposition Traction Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1901

1901

1902

3 miles
The Exposition grounds covering 250 acres were about three miles from the hotel and business center. To reach the grounds a new double track line had to be built from the center of the city, and for doing this work it was thought best to organize a separate company known as the Exposition Traction Co. It was at first proposed to charge an additional 5-cent fare on this new line, but as there was some fear expressed that the double fare would injure the prospects of the Exposition, the company elected to accept the loss and abolish the additional fare, giving a straight 5-cent rate from any part of the city to the grounds. The Exposition line was built with second-hand 60-lb. T-rails, as only a portion of it will be required after the Exposition closes.

Charleston, Suburban & Summerville Railway

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1901

Never

Never

0 miles

The Street Railway Review of 1901 reported: "The Charleston, Suburban & Summerville Railway Co. has been chartered with a capital stock of $600,000 to build a 28-mile standard gauge electric railway connecting Charleston and Summerville. The capital stock will later be increased to $1,000,000. The incorporators are: J. J. O'Connell, B. P. Evans, J. W. Simons and Jonathan Lucas, all of Charleston."

This railway was never constructed nor operational.

Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1905

Never

Never

0 miles

The Street Railway Review of April 15, 1905 reported: "The Charleston & Summerville Railway Co., Charleston, SC. Capital $100,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $1,000,000. President Ogden Edwards, Troy. OH; Vice-President and General Manager Robert J. Smith, Summerville, SC; Secretary and Treasurer E. P. Guerard, Charleston. SC."

The American Street Railway Investments magazines of 1906 and 1907 reported that the Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway was incorporated in February 1905 and currently has 25 miles of track under construction. Capital Stock $500,000. Information as of May 1906, and January 1907.

The Electric Railway Review of November 1906 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway — Contracts have been let for the construction and equipment of this road which will be built from Charleston to Summerville, SC, 27 miles. The power house is to be located about 9 miles outside of Charleston. The overhead construction will be of the catenary type, with 120- foot span, of No. 000 hard drawn copper wire."

The Electric Railway Review of December 1906 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway — About 150 men have started work at both ends on the grading of this line, which will connect Charleston and Summerville, SC, 27 miles. Complete contracts for the construction and electrical equipment have been let. D. E. Baxter & Co., of New York, has the general contract for the electrical equipment. The power house, which will be located about nine miles out of Chaileston, will be equipped with Snow gas engines and 6,600-volt. single-phase current will be used. The overhead work is of the catenary type. Seventy-pound rails will be laid."

The Electric Railway Review of December 14, 1907 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway, Charleston, SC — Announcement is made that W. O. Spriggs of New York City has been elected president of this company, which is building a 22-mile interurban railway between Charleston and Summerville, SC. The company‘s recent application for an extension of time in which to complete the road has been granted. Considerable construction already has been done and it is stated that the new management will resume the work in the near future. F. S. Wright, New York City; Julian Grimke, Charleston, SC; and George Tupper, Summerville, are also interested. D. E. Baxter & Co. of New York are the contractors."

The American Street Railway Investments magazine of 1908 reported that the Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway had 25 miles of track (electric) still under construction. Officers include - President F. S. Wright, Secretary & Treasurer George Tupper, and Chief Engineer W. A. Carlisle. Information as of June 1908.

The Electric Railway Review of January 4, 1908 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway, Charleston, SC — This company, which has completed considerable grading on its proposed line from Charleston to Summerville. SC, 27 miles, has been re-organized with the following officers: President, Julius G. Hocke, 15 Whitehall Street, New York; Secretary and Treasurer, George Tupper, Summerville; General Counsel, St. Julien Grimke, Charleston."

The Electric Railway Review of February 1, 1908 reported: "Summerville, SC — A 39-year franchise has been granted to the Charleston & Summerville Electric Railway Company for the operation of its cars through the principal streets of Summerville, SC. The company proposes to build a 27-mile interurban line between Charleston and Summerville and considerable grading has been done. Julius G. Hocke, 15 Whitehall Street, New York City, president; George Tupper, Summerville, secretary and treasurer; St. Julien Grimke, Charleston, general counsel."

The Electric Railway Journal of August 17, 1912 reported: "The Charleston-Summerville Electric Railway has received the indorsement of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce for the construction of its line in Charleston. The company has asked the Council for a franchise in Charleston. This line will connect Charleston and Summerville."

This railway was never constructed and was re-organized as the Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway on October 5, 1912. See below.

Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1910

1910

1927

43 miles

The Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company was chartered on May 10, 1910 with the intentions of operating street railways in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Moultriesville, another electric railway through Mount Pleasant to Moultrieville on to Isle of Palms, and a ferry to connect Charleston with Mount Pleasant. Additionally, a line was planned to the U.S. Navy Yard in North Charleston.

This company leased the assets of the existing Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company on June 21, 1910, and immediately assumed operations of the street railway lines of Charleston and the line from Mount Pleasant to Isle of Palms. Six (6) lines totaled forty-three (43) miles of track - five (5) in the city limits of Charleston and one (1) to the Navy Yard in North Charleston. Initially, thirty-one (31) cars were used on these six (6) lines.

The Electric Traction Weekly magazine of May 28, 1910 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway Lighting Company has been incorporated with a capital of $2,000,000. This company will lease for a period of 99 years the property and franchises of the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company and will guarantee dividends on its stock. P. H. Gadsden will continue as president of the company."

The McGraw Electric Railway Manual of 1911 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company was incorporated on April 19, 1910 and on June 1, 1910 leased the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company for 99 years. The company operated 41 miles of track (electric) and 61 motor cars and 16 trail cars.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 7, 1911 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company ordered four (4) semi-convertible cars and four (4) open interurban cars from the J.G. Brill company of Philadelphia, PA.

Click Here to view / download a single-page write-up about the transportation facilities in Charleston, SC, as found in the Electric Railway Journal of February 25, 1911.

The Electric Railway Journal of August 5, 1911 reported: "Charleston (SC) Railway & Lighting Company has ordered six single-truck car bodies from the Cincinnati Car Company. They will be mounted on Brill 21-E trucks."

The McGraw Electric Railway Manual of 1912 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company operated 41 miles of track (electric), 61 motor cars, and 16 trail cars. Officers include - President P. H. Gadsden and Secretary C. J. Bendt. Offices at 141 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC.

The Electric Railway Journal of August 17, 1912 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company has ordered five cars from the Cincinnati Car Company. They will be equipped with Brill 21-E trucks.

The Electric Railway Journal of October 26, 1912 reported: "James Sottile is reported to have arranged to take over the Seashore division of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company between Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms, including all wharf properties and ferryboats, together with its equipment and the power house on Sullivan's Island. Mr. Sottile and his associates contemplate building a railway from Mount Pleasant to McClellanville."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 2, 1912 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC — It is reported that James Sottile has purchased the seashore division of this company and that an extension will be built from Mount Pleasant to McClellanville, a distance of 40 miles."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 23, 1912 reported: "James Sottile and his associates have concluded negotiations to take over the Seashore Division of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company between Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Pines, including all wharf property and ferryboats, together with the power house on Sullivan's Island, and have organized the Charleston-Isle of Palms Traction Company, which has elected James Sottile president and W. W. Fuller general superintendent and chief engineer."

The McGraw Electric Railway Manual of 1913 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company operated 43.1 miles of track (electric), 84 motor cars, 8 trail cars, 3 freight cars, 1 work car, and 4 flat cars. Officers include - President P. H. Gadsden and Secretary C. J. Bendt. Offiices at 141 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 4, 1913 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company ordered five (5) semi-convertible cars from Cincinnati Cars in 1912.

The Electric Railway Journal of May 10, 1913 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, S. C., has addressed a letter as follows to the Mayor and members of the Charleston City Council suggesting the passage of an ordinance to permit the company to stop its cars on the near side of the street: 'The increase in the number of automobiles using the streets of the city has correspondingly increased the liability of collisions between automobiles and the cars of this company. We find, upon investigation, that this situation has been met in other cities by requiring the street cars to stop on the near side, instead of the off side, as now required by the ordinances of the city of Charleston. We believe that such a change in the operation of our cars would add considerably to the safety of the passengers carried by us and of the public generally. We are, therefore, inclosing here with a suggested form of ordinance providing for the near side stop as a substitute for that portion of Section 720 requiring the stop on the off side, and we ask your favorable consideration of the same.' ”

The Electric Railway Journal of July 19, 1913 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, has ordered one single-truck, semi-convertible motor car from the Cincinnati Car Company."

The McGraw Electric Railway Manual of 1914 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company operated 35.6 miles of track (electric), 63 motor cars, 6 trail cars, 1 freight car, and 1 work car. Capital stock $3,000,000. Officers include - Presiendt P. H. Gadsden and Secretary C. J. Bendt. Offices at 141 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC.

The Electric Railway Journal of June 20, 1914 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Lighting Company has asked the Council for a franchise for a right-of-way through Chicora Park, North Charleston."

Poor's Manual of Public Utilities and Street Railways of 1915 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company operated 34.34 miles of track, and on Jan. 1, 1910, the company was leased for ninety-nine (99) years to the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company.

The Electric Railway Journal of May 8, 1915 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC — The new interurban line between Charleston and North Charleston has been placed in operation."

The Electric Railway Journal of December 2, 1916 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC — This company will double-track its line from Five-Mile House to the Navy Yard, 1-1/2 miles."

The Electric Railway Journal of March 10, 1917 reported: "Work has been begun by the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company on the double-tracking of its line from the Five-Mile House to the Navy Yard, and it is expected that the line will be completed in the early spring."

The Electric Railway Journal of March 17, 1917 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, Charleston, SC — Work has been begun by this company on the construction of a double-track line on Clements Ferry Road."

The Electric Railway Journal of September 15, 1917 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, is reported to have ordered six double-truck cars."

The Electric Railway Journal of December 22, 1917 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, contemplates purchasing two double-truck motor cars and two double-truck trailers and also five single-truck cars during 1918."

The Electric Railway Journal of May 18, 1918 reported: "Skip Stop in Preparation at Charleston, SC — Preliminary to inaugurating the skip stop on all its lines, the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, has painted its poles with broad white bands. These poles are spaced as recommended by the Fuel Administration — eight to the mile in the city and six in the suburbs. This means that the suburban practice is practically unchanged, while city stops are cut two or more to the mile. During the winter the company met the request to save fuel by curtailing service, six, eight, nine and ten-minute headways being increased to twelve. This meant five single-truck cars less in city service. The curtailment, however, probably cost the company more than it saved owing to the rapid increase of the riding population in consequence of war activities."

The same magazine later reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, has placed a contract with the Cincinnati Car Company for sixteen double-truck cars, six with motors and ten to be trailers. Also ten smaller cars of thirty-five-passenger capacity."


Charleston's Center-Entrance Cars of 1918

Click Here to view / download the Electric Railway Journal of July 13, 1918 three-page write-up about Charleston's newest cars for the Navy Yard (above).

The Electric Railway Journal of May 31, 1919 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC — The Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company is reconstructing its track on the east side of the Meeting Street road from the plant of the Tuxbury Lumber Company to the Five Mile House."

The Electric Railway Journal of December 20, 1919 reported: "The City Council of Charleston, SC, has ratified an ordinance granting the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company the right to charge 7-cent cash fares. The higher rate went into effect on Nov. 12. Four tickets are sold for 25 cents. Transfers continue to be given free."

The Electric Railway Journal of January 3, 1920 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company ordered seven (7) 40'-0" passenger cars and rebuilt 1.90 miles of track in 1919.

Click Here to view / download a three-page article in the January 10, 1920 Electric Railway Journal about the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company and its President P. H. Gadsden - and how this company provided excellent service to its customers.

The Electric Railway Journal of May 29, 1920 reported that as of May 25, 1920 the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company has ordered ten (10) new one-man safety cars for its line.

The Electric Railway Journal of August 7, 1920 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, advises it will purchase ten new 41 ft., double-end, center-entrance, 2-motor, double-truck, steel passenger cars, equipped with Westinghouse 514-A motors and H. L. control. Pantasote curtains, Keystone illuminated signs, Hale & Kilburn seats, Johnson fare boxes, Pittsburgh drop brake handle and hand brake, O. B. air sanders and Ideal trolley catchers will be installed."


Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company Two-Car Train for Navy Yard - 1921

Click Here to view / download a two-page article provided in the Electric Railway Journal of April 29, 1922 about the state of affairs with the street railway system in Charleston, SC, including the impacts caused by the automobile and the new jitneys operating in the city.

By 1922, the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company operated thirty-nine (39) miles of track and sixty-nine (69) motorized streetcars.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 6, 1923 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company abandoned 0.47 miles of track and rebuilt 1.17 miles of track in the city of Charleston, SC during 1922.

The Electric Railway Journal of June 2, 1923 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company has employed the Beeler organization of New York City to make a study and report on the street railway conditions in the city of Charleston, SC, with a view to determining, if possible, some solution of the present serious financial difficulties with which the company is confronted."

"This company says that its railway revenues for the first four months of 1923 were practically $40,000 less than for the first four months of the previous year, while the cost of operation has not fallen in anything like this proportion, with the result that the company is experiencing substantial losses every month. The revenue for the first four months of 1923 has failed by $13,749 to meet actual operating expenses, exclusive of depreciation and interest on the value of the street railway properties, it is stated."

"Just what changes will be made are at present problematical, and it is likely that no changes will be made until the Beeler organization has completed its investigation and made its report. The company already uses the one-man car and is attempting to apply other operating economies. The use of the automobile, the reduction of the force of men at the Charleston Navy Yard, the loss to Charleston of the destroyer fleet during the winter and other similar influences have brought about a shrinking of traffic with a consequent reduction of revenues, amounting to more than the savings effected by the economies."

The Electric Railway Journal of September 8, 1923 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, will soon start work on putting in a single track on King Street between Line and Cleveland, taking the place of the present double track. The old rails will be taken up and new ones laid."

The Electric Railway Journal of October 6, 1923 reported: "The Beeler organization has completed the survey of the electric railway situation in Charleston, SC. The report has been in preparation since early in May, when the Beeler organization, at the request of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, undertook to make a traffic survey of the situation and offer recommendations which it believed would help toward bringing the company back on a good financial basis."

"One of the first recommendations, as suggested by the experts, calls for an adjustment in fares, which it considers necessary in solving the problem in that city. It points out that the average rate of fare of eighty-one railways for the first four months of 1923 was 7.13 cents, and the average rate of fare charged in the city of Charleston was 6.02 cents."

"In addition to the fare increase recommended, the organization further suggested a modification in the routing of lines, with a few excepted. It recommended the abandonment of certain small portions of the railway system which do not contribute a sufficient amount of revenue to justify their operation. It recommends, further, the complete relief to the company from the cost of paving between the tracks, except where such paving is damaged by the railway in its operations. Faster schedules are recommended on all lines, that the patrons may be given prompt and efficient service. It suggests that, if necessary, relief be granted in the matter of taxation, as has been done in some cities. It brought out the fact that while the number of passengers in 1922 was about the same as the number carried in 1912, the taxes of 1922 had more than quintupled during the last ten years."

"Other minor recommendations were made, looking toward the solution of the traffic problem. The report states that substantial savings would be effected in operating costs by the adoption of these changes. It is indicated further that it would be impossible to put the operation of the railway upon a sound financial basis until such time as a substantial increase in the traffic carried could be experienced. It was the hopeful opinion of the engineers who made the report that Charleston was to experience, in its industrial and business conditions, a great improvement, which would be helped along by the changes in car routing and service recommendations."

The Electric Railway Journal of December 1, 1923 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway Gas & Electric Company, Charleston, SC, is replacing the double track on King Street with a single-line track."


Charleston, SC Street Railways - Present Route vs. Proposed Route - 1923

Click Here for a seven-page article from the Electric Railways Journal of December 29, 1923 about traffic problems in Charleston, SC.


Charleston, SC 1924

The Electric Railway Journal of June 14, 1924 reported: "The topographical situation of Charleston, SC, which somewhat resembles that of Manhattan Island, complicates the electric railway problem there. Cooper River on the north of the city and Ashley River on the south join in the harbor, just off the Battery. The principal business streets are King and Meeting, which run more or less parallel to the rivers. Unfortunately for the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, most of the city lies within comparatively easy walking distance of the business center. Only North Charleston and the new Hampton Park district are really outside of the 10-minute walk area. Railway traffic is heaviest on Saturday, which is pay day, and decreases day by day (Sunday excepted, when riding is almost zero) until the low mark of the week is reached on Friday. Although the population of the city is about 67,000 only some 30,000 are white. The colored people have money enough to ride only on Saturday, and some few on Monday also. For the rest of the week they walk. The problem therefore is to provide railway service for about 30,000 people, and to make it pay."

"The city lines of the railway are operated on a 10-minute headway all day and during the rush hours. The cars are never crowded. Shorter headways were tried as a means of increasing traffic but failed to produce satisfactory results. Birney cars and rebuilt single-truck cars equipped with safety devices constitute the greater part of the rolling stock, with a few double-truck cars operated on a suburban line. Recent rerouting has reduced operating cost considerably, and although the total number of revenue passengers is less, the revenue per car-mile is greater. Thus, although no large increase in traffic appears likely, the railway has introduced many economies in its shops and operation and by this means expects to get back on a firm foundation in the near future."

The McGraw Electric Railway Directory of 1924 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company operated 39.44 miles of track, sixty-one (61) box passenger cars, nine (9) trail cars, three (3) service cars, and one (1) wrecking car. Officers include - President P. H. Gadsden and General Manager Stuart Cooper.

The Electric Railway Journal of November 29, 1924 reported: "In four years the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company has reduced its operating expenses per car-mile 35 per cent, while its gross earnings decreased approximately 30 per cent. To meet this situation the railway has had to curtail its expenses heavily. This has been done by the inauguration of one-man operation, reducing the number of men employed in the shops, and by reducing the number of car-miles operated. An important saving has also been made in the amount paid for damage claims. In 1923 the percentage of one-man cars operated to total cars was 51.3, while in 1924 the percentage of one-man cars was 91.3 of the whole. This has made it possible to reduce the number of trainmen from 140 to 90. At the same time radical revisions have been made in the supervisory force and the personnel of the mechanical department."

Click Here to view / download a half-page article in the Electric Railway Journal of December 27, 1924 about "Giving the Riders Somewhere to Go" in Charleston, SC.

The Electric Railway Journal of February 14, 1925 reported: "Because receipts on Sundays fell far below the cost of operation, the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, recently started the Sunday pass, as an experiment for 10 Sundays. The passes are sold for 25 cents each."

The Electric Railway Journal of January 2, 1926 reported that the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company rebuilt 1.31 miles of track in 1925. The company also abandoned 0.33 miles of track in 1925.

The Electric Railway Journal of October 23, 1926 reported: "The Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, Charleston, SC, was temporarily "bought" by Kerrison's Department Store on Sept. 25, for one hour and turned over to the public for free rides. This idea was conceived by the officials of one of the city's oldest firms in appreciation of the patronage the shoppers had given in connection with the 95th anniversary sale held in the store during that week. The watchword of the hour on Sept. 25 was 'the rides are on Kerrison's, jump aboard.' "

The Electric Railway Journal of November 27, 1926 reported: "The merging of the companies controlling the railway, lighting and gas facilities at Charleston, SC, was agreed upon at a meeting of the directors of the companies on Nov. 16. The four companies, merged into one, will be known as the South Carolina Power Company. The purpose is to clear the way for the Southeastern Power & Light Company to take over the properties. A meeting of the stockholders of the four companies has been called for Dec. 17, when the sale of the properties will be ratified."

"At the meeting on Nov. 16, Philip H. Gadsden, president of the four companies, resigned. Stuart Cooper was elected president of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Light Company. B. A. Hagood was elected president of the three other companies. They are the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, the Charleston Gas Light Company founded in 1846, and the Charleston-Edison Light & Power Company."

The Electric Railway Journal of January 8, 1927 reported: "The stockholders of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, the Charleston-Edison Light & Power Company and the Charleston Gas Light Company have approved the consolidation of these properties into the South Carolina Power Company. This last-named company acquires all the rights and powers of the aforesaid four companies, the stock of which, by agreement, is to be exchanged for stock in the new company. It is part of the plan for control of the South Carolina Power Company to pass to the Southeastern Power & Light Company."

The Electric Railway Journal of April 23, 1927 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, now a subsidiary of of the South Carolina Power Company, Charleston, SC, will add nine new Birney safety cars to its equipment, according to a newspaper statement by Stuart M. Cooper, vice-president and general manager. Some of the cars have already been shipped and will probably be delivered shortly, it was stated."

Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1912

Never

Never

0 miles

The Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway was chartered on October 5, 1912 by the South Carolina Secretary of State.

The Electric Railway Journal of October 19, 1912 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway, Charleston, SC — Chartered in South Carolina to build a 20-mile electric railway between Charleston and Summerville and several miles of track in Charleston. Right-of-way has been secured and construction will be begun as soon as financial backing has been obtained. Capital stock, $500,000 to $1,000,000. Officers: J. L. David, president; E. W. Hughes, secretary; M. M. David, treasurer, and J. A. Hertz, J. D. Harby, J. L. David, E. W. Hughes and M. M. David, board of directors."

The Electric Railway Journal of February 8, 1913 reported: "The Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway has received a six months' extension of time in which to begin the construction of its 20-mile line between Charleston and Summerville. J. L. David, president."

The Electric Railway Journal of June 7, 1913 reported: "Financial arrangements are being made for the completion of work on this 22-mile line. Surveys have been made between Charleston and Summerville, 22 miles, and grading has been completed for 15 miles."

The Electric Railway Journal of August 30, 1913 reported: "Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway, Charleston, SC — Plans are being made by this company to begin the construction of its line about Oct. 1 in order to meet the requirements of its franchise. This 22-mile line will connect Charleston and Summerville."

The Electric Railway Journal of April 11, 1914 reported: "The Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway has received an extension of time on its franchise from April 1 to Aug. 1, 1914. This 22-mile line will connect Charleston and Summerville."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 4, 1916 reported: "It is reported that the Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway has filed deeds to right-of-way preliminary to resuming work on its proposed line between Charleston and Summerville, about 22 miles."

The Electric Railway Journal of May 18, 1918 reported: "The City Council of Charleston has granted the Charleston & Summerville Interurban Railway, which proposes to construct a line between Charleston and Summerville, about 22 miles, a one year's extension of time on its franchise in which to make the necessary arrangements to begin construction."

This railway was never constructed nor operational.

South Carolina Power Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1926

1927

1938

43 miles

The South Carolina Power Company was incorporated in December of 1926, led by B. A. Hagood and Stuart Cooper. The new company remodeled several of the old cars to one-man operation, purchased some new and improved Birney Safety Cars, added some reconditioned double-truck cars, and retired many of the older cars to reduce operating and maintenance costs. The previous standard car colors were changed to a bright orange - the first car painted was run for three days on each of the five (5) city lines to promote the new image.

The Electric Railway Journal of November 27, 1926 reported: "The merging of the companies controlling the railway, lighting and gas facilities at Charleston, SC, was agreed upon at a meeting of the directors of the companies on Nov. 16. The four companies, merged into one, will be known as the South Carolina Power Company. The purpose is to clear the way for the Southeastern Power & Light Company to take over the properties. A meeting of the stockholders of the four companies has been called for Dec. 17, when the sale of the properties will be ratified."

"At the meeting on Nov. 16, Philip H. Gadsden, president of the four companies, resigned. Stuart Cooper was elected president of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Light Company. B. A. Hagood was elected president of the three other companies. They are the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, the Charleston Gas Light Company founded in 1846, and the Charleston-Edison Light & Power Company."

The Electric Railway Journal of January 8, 1927 reported: "The stockholders of the Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company, the Charleston-Edison Light & Power Company and the Charleston Gas Light Company have approved the consolidation of these properties into the South Carolina Power Company. This last-named company acquires all the rights and powers of the aforesaid four companies, the stock of which, by agreement, is to be exchanged for stock in the new company. It is part of the plan for control of the South Carolina Power Company to pass to the Southeastern Power & Light Company."

The Electric Railway Journal of February 19, 1927 included a letter from Superintendent H. Bigelow of the South Carolina Power Company:

Charleston, S. C, Jan. 22, 1927

To the Editor:
An extensive program of improvement and modernization
has been mapped out for the railway department
of the South Carolina Power Company. This includes
track renewals, the substitution of improved rolling
stock for worn-out or obsolete equipment, and an advertising
campaign to "sell rides" in connection with the
improvements.

It has been recommended that all cars in regular service
be equipped with comfortable, upholstered seats, and
with floor covering. All cars will be painted in our new
standard color, a bright orange, and instead of being
lettered will carry a distinctive insignia emblematic of
the company.

It is our opinion that by furnishing the public economical,
safe and dependable service, and keeping that
picture prominently before their eyes, we can increase
our gross revenue to such an extent that with the attendant
economies in operation, we can finally pull a
mighty sick patient out of the hospital.

H. Bigelow
Superintendent of Railway

The Electric Railway Journal of April 23, 1927 reported: "Charleston Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company, now a subsidiary of of the South Carolina Power Company, Charleston, SC, will add nine new Birney safety cars to its equipment, according to a newspaper statement by Stuart M. Cooper, vice-president and general manager. Some of the cars have already been shipped and will probably be delivered shortly, it was stated."

The same magazine also reported: "South Carolina Power Company, Charleston, SC, is reported as spending $100,000 for new rails on several of its lines. Work is now being done on Meeting Street. Later operations will extend to King Street in Charleston."


Birney Single-Truck Safety Car - Charleston, SC - 1927

The Electric Railway Journal of September 17, 1927 reported: "An example of what can be done to solve the problem of reducing operating costs is aflforded in the experience of the railway system of the South Carolina Power Company at Charleston. In this city of 70,000 population there is no mass movement or peak load of importance on its urban lines. Distances are short. The city is level. The streets are well paved. Three years ago there were five types of cars in regular service on the system. These were: (1) Birney cars; (2) semi-convertible, wooden, single-truck cars rebuilt for one-man operation; (3) one-man, double-truck (maximum traction) steel cars; (4) wooden two-man, double-truck cars, and (5) steel, center-entrance, two-man cars with multiple-unit control. With this equipment the average energy consumption was 2.18 kw.-hr. per car-mile and the average maintenance cost 2.65 cents per car-mile. For the year 1923 the system showed a ratio of operating cost, including taxes, to gross revenue of 107 per cent, with a consequent loss of many thousand dollars. The edict then went out that the railway department had to be self-supporting if it were to continue operation."

"Accordingly, the railway commenced a thorough rehabilitation program. All city operations were placed on a one-man basis. This necessitated the changing over of many of the old cars. During the three ensuing years, although the gross receipts fell off $150,000, there was a decrease in operating expenses of $220,000 and an improvement of 15 per cent in the operating ratio."

"The cars converted were seventeen years old on the average, weighed 14 tons each and were equipped with two 40-hp. motors. By 1927 more than half of them had been placed in storage because of the need for extensive repairs. The railway was thus faced with the necessity of adding to its equipment. As the city was just starting a four-year repaving program, with which the company's track rehabilitation had to be co-ordinated, it was deemed inadvisable to purchase new cars at that time. Accordingly, used single-truck, improved Birney-type safety cars, averaging five years old but in good operating condition, were purchased for the same cost as the repairs necessary on the converted cars. These cars weigh 8-1/4 tons each and are equipped with two 25-hp. motors. It was estimated that they would save 2/3 kw.-hr. per car-mile in energy and 1/2 cent per car-mile in maintenance over the converted cars. Actually, they are saving 9/10 kw.-hr. per car-mile in energy consumption instead of 2/3 kw.-hr. per car-mile as estimated, and it is believed maintenance figures when obtained will bear the same relation to the estimated figure. The total annual saving per car from this substitution, considering only energy and equipment costs and neglecting maintenance of track and roadway, should amount to $600. Substantial increase in the proportion of single-truck cars on the property has made it possible to produce operating economies that have prevented further cutting of schedules to meet depleted revenues."


1927 Streetcar Routes in Charleston, SC

Click Here for a four-page article entitled "Saving a Small System," provided in the Electric Railway Journal of December 24, 1927 written by Horatio Bigelow, Superintendent of Railway at South Carolina Power Company in Charleston, SC.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 14, 1928 reported that the South Carolina Power Company rebuilt 2.27 miles of track during 1927.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 12, 1929 reported that the South Carolina Power Company rebuilt 2.34 miles of track during 1928.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 1931 reported that the South Carolina Power Company rebuilt 0.45 miles of track during 1930.

The city of Charleston avoided the use of buses to supplement streetcars until January 20, 1934, when the long line to the U.S. Navy Yard was abandoned and bus service was substituted. All other lines were eventually abandoned, and the last streetcar in the city of Charleston entered the car barn at Meeting Street and Romney Street for the last time at 5:00 pm on February 10, 1938.



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