South Carolina Railroads - Street Railways - Rock Hill

The following two (2) known "Street Railways" were operational in the town of Rock Hill from 1901 to 1918, when the last line ceased operations.

Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1889

1901

1911

1.5 miles

The Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company was chartered on December 24, 1889 by the South Carolina Legislature. W. L. Roddey, William C. Whitner, William H. Stewart and W. B. Wilson, Jr. were named as incorporators in the legislative Act. The original charter authorized $5,000 in capital stock and authorized the company thirty (30) years to operate.


Rock Hill Street Railway c.1901

According to Mr. Thomas Fetters in his book entitled "Palmetto Traction - Electric Railways of South Carolina" (1978), the company quickly built and began to operated the local water works and electrical distribution system. By 1901, if not earlier, the company also operated one a half miles of standard gauge trackage using four horse cars. The city of Rock Hill took over the assets of the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company in February of 1911 and sold the street railway assets to the Carolina Traction Company, which converted the line from horse cars to modern storage battery electric cars.

The Street and Electric Railways Census of December 1902 reported that the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company owned and operated 1.31 miles of track (horse) and had $100,000 of capital stock.

The American Street Railway Investments magazine of 1905 reported that the Rock Hill Street Railway Company [name double checked - Author thinks this is an error] had 1.5 miles of track (horse) and four (4) horse cars. Officers include - President W. B. Wilson, Vice-President R. T. Ferrell, Secretary-Treasurer J. M. Cherry, and Superindendent R. S. McConnell. Information as of April 1905.

The American Street Railway Investments magazines of 1906 and 1907 reported that the Rock Hill Street Railway Company's [name double checked - Author still thinks this is an error] 1905 information was still correct except the Superintendent is Thomas Roseborough in 1906 (not named in 1907). Information as of May 1906, and May 1907.

The Street & Electric Railways Census of 1907 reported that the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company had 1.5 miles of track and $5,000 in capital stock.

The Street Railway Journal of November 1907 reported that the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company had 1.5 miles of track (horse) and 4 cars.

The American Street Railway Investments magazines of 1908, 1909, and 1910 reported that the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company had 1.5 miles of track (horse) and four (4) horse cars. Officers include - President W. B. Wilson, Vice-President R. T. Ferrell, Secretary & Treasurer J. M. Cherry, and Superintendent W. H. Gladden. The company contemplates changing to an electric system. Dates of information - October 1907, May 1909, and May 1910.

The Electric Railway Journal of March 4, 1911 reported: "The city of Rock Hill has arranged to take over and operate the property of the Rock Hill Water Supply, Electric Light & Street Railway Company, which includes 1.5 miles of horse railway."

The McGraw Electric Railway Manual of 1911 reported that the Rock Hill Street Railway Company [name double checked - Author thinks this is an error] had 1.5 miles of track (horse) and four (4) horse cars.

Carolina Traction Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1910

1912

1918

3.0 miles

The Carolina Traction Company was chartered on January 8, 1910 by the South Carolina Secretary of State, and led by J. M. Cherry of Rock Hill, SC, William S. Lee of Charlotte, NC, and George Stevens of Charlotte, NC. The original plan was to operate a street railway in Rock Hill, then to extend the line from Rock Hill through the towns of Ebenezer and Fort Mill to a point on the SC/NC State Line, and ultimately on into the city of Charlotte, NC. A second line was to run from Rock Hill through the towns of Catawba, Lewisville, and Landsford to connect to the Seaboard Air Line.

According to Mr. Thomas Fetters in his book entitled "Palmetto Traction - Electric Railways of South Carolina" (1978), the new company decided to electrify the street railway and adoptyed a storage battery electric system. This system was "a transient fad" for use by smaller companies who wanted to avoid the expense of constructing an overhead electrical system. Two (2) cars were ordered in 1911, followed by a third car in 1912. Two additional cars were acquired, probably second hand.

Operation of the battery cars began on February 24, 1912 over 2.7 miles of single track. The first car left at 6:30 a.m. and returned at 7:10 a.m. The batteries were then charged for twenty (20) minutes and the care resumed hourly service at 7:30 a.m, 8:30 a.m., etc. Each car was capable of operating between 75 and 90 miles each day. By June of 1912, the Carolina Traction Company reached its ultimate length - 3 miles. Two years later, the company received a franchise for an extension along Elm, Park, and Crawford streets in Rock Hill, but this line was not built.

The Electric Traction Weekly magazine of January 23, 1910 reported: "The Carolina Traction Company has been chartered with a capital stock of $150,000 to build an electric railway from Rock Hill to Charlotte, NC. The road will pass through York and Chester counties in South Carolina and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. The charter also covers the right to operate a line in Rock Hill. The officers of the company are: J. M. Cherry, president: W. S. Lee, vice-president; James S. White, secretary; and J. M. Cherry, treasurer."

The Electric Railway Journal of September 28, 1912 reported: "The Carolina Traction Company, Rock Hill, SC, operates 3 miles of track in a town of 7,900 people. It purchased two cars in February, 1912, and a third car in April. 1912. These cars run from 75 miles to 100 miles a day, averaging 271 passengers per car a day. The energy consumption averages 536 watt-hours per car mile and 74 watt-hours per ton mile, based on readings of the battery output at the motor brushes. The maximum grade is 3-1/2 per cent. The company pays the Hydro-Electric Power Company 1 cent per kw-hr., and its operating and maintenance expense is estimated at 10 cents per car mile. A peculiar feature is that a large percentage of the gross earnings comes from chartered-car parties which are run during off-hours without conflicting with the regular service." [the entire article was about the Federal Storage Battery Co. of Silver Lake, NJ]

The Electric Railway Journal of February 22, 1913 reported: "Carolina Traction Company, Rock Hill, SC — During the year this company plans to build 8 miles of track."

The McGraw Electric Review Manual of 1914 reported that the Carolina Traction Company operated 3 miles of track and 3 storage battery cars. Officers include - President J. M. Cherry and Secretary James S. White.

The Electric Railway Journal of June 6, 1914 reported: "Carolina Traction Company, Rock Hill, SC — During the next six weeks this company will award contracts to build 2 miles of new track in Rock Hill."

Poor's Manual of Public Utilities and Street Railways of 1915 reported that the Carolina Traction Company operated 3 miles of single track and 3 Beach-Edison storage battery cars.

The Electric Railway Journal of January 4, 1919 reported that the Carolina Traction Company has abandoned 3.00 miles of track. It was further noted that the company's three storage-battery cars have been sold, but the tracks and the charging plant have yet to be removed.

Carolina Traction Company abandoned its entire line in 1918. Three battery cars were sold to an Indiana traction company by 1919, but the track and charging plant remained in place as late as January of 1919. James S. White, secretary of the company, later wrote that the line failed because of the prohibitive prices of materials and supplies.



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