Buffalo to Pride

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Bridge collapse and wreck on the BUC. The engine and tender made it across the trestle, but then the rest of the cars fell when the trestle collapsed. No one was hurt. It is not known when or exactly where this wreck occurred. The coal hoppers were most likely destined for the power plant along the Broad River. (Submitted by Tim Mitchell)

The Buffalo Union-Carolina was apparently built in 1900 to deliver supplies for the construction of the textile mill in Buffalo, and then served the mill from an switch-back style interchange with the Southern Railway in Union. The railroad went through Union then paralleled or used trackage rights on the Southern from Monarch Mills to southeast of town. The railroad then diverged to Gregory, a power plant at Neal Shoals on the Broad River, and then down to Pride on the Seaboard Air Line just northeast of Carlisle. This section of the road was apparently built to serve the power plant along the river, and to provide a connection other than with the Southern. The section between Monarch Mills and Pride was abandoned between 1945 and 1959. The section between Union and Buffalo came into possession of Southern, and Southern abandoned it by 1971.

The former ROW can be made out in aerial photos in places between Monarch Mills and Neal Shoals, and some sections have been made into roads. The section between Union and Buffalo is still easily distinguishable. Some sections in Union may be able to be made out.

The pictures on this page were provided by Tim Mitchell of Union. His grandfather, Rueben Mitchell, was an engineer on the BU-C in the 1940s. After his retirement, the company let him come back and make the first diesel run on the line (probably in the 1950s).

Thanks to Tim Mitchell for contributing information about this route.

Switchback in Union was (as late as 2001) and may still be used by NS to deliver covered hoppers loaded with plastic pellets to a plant. I left NS in late 2001 but I remember working train 85 and switching this plant a few times.

david paschal, sr.
lexington, SC
2/1/2009

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We were just up there today. The connection to the NS is still there as is trackage out over Hwy. 176 toward the Miliken. (We didn't get out past 176 and I'm operating from memory where it went.) The mills in Monarch and Union are both gone. I believe one or both burned as old textile mills so often do.

Joe Hinson
Columbia, SC, SC
1/13/2013

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Via Google Earth, you can make out tracks to a Sunoco plant east of Hwy. 176. Imagery from 2006 shows cars at the end of the line for this spur which looks to have been the last customer served by NS. Google Earth shows the rails end near this spot, but you can eventually catch back up with the road bed in some spots out toward Buffalo. Imagery from 1994 shows what appears to the mill in Buffalo, but making out tracks in is hard here. I was a little unsure where Buffalo was and did not have time to drive out further than the next road over from Sunoco.

GE also shows a spur into the Timken facility near Industrial Park Rd. This is between 176 and the Sunoco. Yesterday I spotted a tree or two down on the road bed from Blassingame Road. Erosion is threatening the entire roadbed from here (behind a Food Lion) to the curve to the left which takes it up to 176. This is the only spot where I see Mother Nature winning hands down.

The area near where Union Cotton Mills was is not in great shape, but it could be rehabbed.

This is under Hwy. 18

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/8395915001/in/photostream

The area under N. Pickney has tracks stuck in mud and weeds.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/8396913832/in/photostream

As you go further west, the rails stop and you can make it the road from a little distance before I lost it. This mirrors my luck from a recon mission yesterday. The easiest spot to make out is near Arthur and Lakeside Rd where you can clearly make out a road bed.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/8379224022/in/photostream

It's sad that at some point, the economic development leaders in Union never saw fit to try and save this line that still had rails as a shortline. The area around the Sunoco and Timken still has some industrial spots, but on Industrial Park Road right beside the tracks, they put in a baseball field and named it after Timken. Shortsighted there.

But, of course, it had been a shortline at one point, so maybe they just thought it couldn't be done. With a little work, it could be done now, but they won't. There are no bridges on the line out toward Sunoco and the most work to get the line back up would be just past Blassingame.

The most interesting find yesterday was a switch that is still protected by a lock near the mill location in Union.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/8396848568/in/photostream

Joe Hinson
Columbia, SC
1/20/2013

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I grew up in Union County and it is sad to see today's state of affairs. Joe Hinson's comment about shortsightedness is spot on. I remember discussions back in the 70s where the county leaders were more interested in protecting main street Union than growth for the county. They fought against 4-lane hwy 9 and against an interstate route Gaffney to Columbia because they didn't go through down town. Sad to see what was a vibrant region turning into a ghost town.

jim
Tullahoma, TN
7/1/2013

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