Johns Island to Albermarle Point

The Croghans Branch

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(Forwarded from the Charleston & Savannah Railroad)

This once formed part of the eastern end of the original mainline of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad. This particular abandoned segment runs from Johns Island Station on the former Atlantic Coast Line/Seaboard Coast Line (CSX today) to the west bank of the Ashley River at Albemarle Point.

Today, it forms the West Ashley Greenway rail-trail.

Thanks to Dave Jones for contributing information about this route.

Until the late 1940's there was a siding for a grist mill which I believe was torn down in the late 1940's. I remember "being the man" even tho' only 6 or 7 years old and carrying 5 lb. bags of grits that my mother purchased there. This was located between Stinson Dr. and Wappoo Rd. About 300/400 ft. away was a box making facility - to call it a plant would be far too elegant. This also had a siding on which CofG box cars were spotted regularly during the packing season. Loaded I suppose with wood shook. Access to the facility was right on Wappoo Rd.

Located where Palmetto Ford is located today was a small packing shed for Harrison's farm. During cabbage season this small shed shipped many ventilated box and reefer cars of cabbage. The smell of cabbage in the field is still with me today. Proceeding further east where Mr. Arthur Ravenel had his farm was another short siding which if memory serves me correct often saw box cars of lumber for the building boom that took place West of the Ashley in the 1950's/1960's.

Further along toward Albemarle was an insulation business but I cannot recall whether or not it had a siding tho' I believe it did. At the Albemarle Point end of the branch was Concrete Products. I know it received hopper cars of aggregate, but I don't ever recall seeing a covered hopper for cement on the branch. Also locating there in the 1960's was National Biscuit Co. but I know nothing of their business by rail.

Finally, Prestress Concrete had a plant at the very end. During construction of the second Cooper River bridge I watched 2 GP-7's and an FP-7 back (right - back) a train of 63 open hoppers down that 65-70 lb. rail. You should have heard the noise.

Dave Jones
Charleston, SC
10/20/2010

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The Croghans branch saw a train Monday thru Friday and on rare occasions, Saturday also. There were always two units on the train and a caboose. The train came down the branch caboose first and the rear flagman flagged each street as best I know from Wappoo down to the end. During the ACL years I don't think they flagged each and every street but the last TT I have for the "St. Andrews Branch" has those TT instructions.

These units from approx. 1950 to the arrival of the U-18B's was always two GP-7's. From the mid-70's U-18B's were frequently seen. I believe (but do not know) that Croghans was served by a local freight (#593 in SCL years) that ran from Walterboro, gained the main line at Green Pond and before terminating At Bennett yard in North Charleston, served the Croghans branch industries.

I do know that at various times I saw lone F-7's and once a GP-30 idling at the Johns Island station while the train was on the branch.

Dave Jones
Charleston, SC
10/25/2010

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I have a few memories of this rail being I was very young when the rail was taken out. I rember when I went to school down town and the bus I rode went to the Dupont area. I can remember the train would catch us somtimes crossing the track over and over. I remember seeing a highnose pushing a hugh pipe on a flat and was pulling a box car also. I do remember a sidig at Shell point that ran around were ST. Andrews boat club is now. There was ALC box cars parked all the way around the turn.

Willis B Ford JR
Johns Iland , SC
10/25/2010

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The Charleston and Savannah was a storied line. Completed on the very eve of the outbreak of the Civil War, it is credited (or blamed, depending on your point of view) for helping both Savannah and Charleston hold out against Federal incursions and attacks until the arrival of Sherman. Numerous raids were launched by Federals from along the coast, which long failed to cut or capture the line. . A temporary bridge reportedly was built across the Ashley from Albemarle Point into peninsular Charleston for the duration of the war.

Troops could be shuttled back and forth between the two cities and points in between as needed. It is noteworthy that Beaufort-Port Royal and surrounding lands, seized and held relatively early in the war by the Federals, lay where the C&S curved inland to Yemasee some 30 miles away

(A drill cadence reportedly chanted by recruits at the Parris Island Marine Training Depot and other Marine and Navy training facilities, went "Beaufort Beaufort by the sea / Twenty-nine miles from Yemasee")

The C&S was acquired by the Plant system in 1880, & was subsequently absorbed into the ACL when the Walters group purchased the Plant System. During this period, a cutoff named the Ashley River Railroad was built either by the C&S or by Plant, which turned out at Rantowles to proceed northeast across the Ashley River to connect to the southern end of the North Eastern Railroad of SC, a Walters ACL group mainline running to Florence where it connected to other ACL mainlines. The remaining former C&S ROW east of the junction at Rantowles to Croghans and Albemarle Point became the Croghans Branch.

When the ACL acquired the Plant System, it decided to route its A Line along the former Northeastern and Ashley River railroads, and the C&S ROW west of Rantowles, to Savannah. The A Line remains an important CSX route.

Mitch Bailey
Lexington Co., SC
11/14/2010

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In 1958 we moved to the Rotherwood subdivision so that I could attend Stono Parl Elementary School. My grandfather, George J. Fritz, was with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for many years, and at that point in time, was the conductor on the ACL train that ran on this line. We would see him often on the train as Brotherhood was on the line. In fact, at the crossing on Wappoo Rd., I can recall that while the train was working a siding there, my mom put eye drops in for him as he had glaucoma. I think the line went through Hollywood as well because after my grandmother died, he married the Postmistress for Hollywood, Marguerite Carr.

On another subject, I used to go to the Piggly Wiggly at DuPont Crossing with my parents. I can recall very vividly seeing the north bound SAL freights going through DuPont Crossing at high speed with a string of FGE cars. Forty-five years later I an still trying to learn all about it.

Wayne C. Fritz
Charleston, SC
11/19/2010

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I happened to find this site while looking for info on Dupont Crossing. I was born in 1950, and I remember the train passing behind my home in Windermere going to and from Albermarle. In the 1930's and 1940's, by uncle Luther Bootle and his family had a grocery and lunch room on the corner of Atlantic Coastal Hwy. (now Savannah Hwy.) and aforementioned bus turning onto Wappoo Rd. heading towards St. Andrew's High School. Corbett's Package Co. and Albert Whaley's first Gulf Station are visible. You can also see the tracks crossing the hwy. Bus service to that area began in 1940. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the train. My uncle's wife later married a man named George Long who was a produce buyer and auctioneer for the farmer's market.

Ina L. Bootle
Charleston, SC
2/20/2011

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To Ina Bootle,

I remember the restaurant located on Hwy 17 very well. It is there that I first learned about Bar-B-Que as that seemed to be a specialty. It was a restaurant and had wings on each side for car parking/curbside. I also remeber Whaleys Gulf Service Station on the corner of Betsy Rd.and Hwy 17. I learned to drive (age 14) on Harrison Ave. when it was nothing but a dirt road that accessed the Harrison Farm and crossed over the ACL railroad tracks.

Wayne Fritz
Charleston/Columbia, SC
12/12/2011

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I lived west of the Ashley from early 1978 until August 1980. During that time, if memory serves, the Walterboro train was a M-Sat operation, with a run up the branch generally on M-W-F. Agree with previous posters as to power - generally GP7s or U18Bs, with a few GP30s and B23-7s mixed in occasionally - and generally one or two units, though on one occasion 4 units made the run. I didn't catch the quartet on the branch, but got a so-so photo as they approached the Ashley bridge. I have a few photos of the branch during my late-'70s era and will be glad to share.

David Harris
Dover, AR
12/21/2011

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Memories galore..... found this site by pure chance. I grew-up right beside the RR tracks, just West of Barrineau's Piggly Wiggly in DuPont Crossing, during the 1950s. Neighborhood kids used the 'front tracks' (SCL ones),as they were known, and the ACL ones (back tracks) as trails to the woods located by Air Harbor and on towards Johns Island. Bet they're all subdivisions now! I remember that blackberry vines thrived next to railbed, and we'd always score a bucketfull on our hikes in the Spring.

Funny thing: I was raised by railroad tracks (abandoned even before I left Charleston in the mid 70's), currently live in a town that's a major hub for the CN (Canadian Nat'l RR), and am in the process of moving to a town in Western Canada that's the major Pacific hub for both the CN and Canadian Pacific RRs. Just how life's worked out. Mebbe subconciously a plan, eh?

Anyway, I still love to go to sleep to the sound of a distant trail whistle.

Bruce Doar
Stevens Point, WI
12/6/2012

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