North Augusta to Greenwood
This abandoned railway line was merged into the Central of Georgia (along with the rest of the Georgia & Florida Railway) in 1971. Investigation of the surrounding areas suggest that clay pits were active near the Savannah River on this line, as well as near its terminus near I-20.
By 1981, the only remaining portions of the line were from Hamburg (at the wye with the Southern Railway) to just north of I-20. This small section was saved because the city set aside some land for an industrial park (even though the tracks were in terrible condition at this point). Despite this, a Southern Railway map from 1980 does not show the spur to the proposed industrial park (whether it was because the track was "impassable" or just not significant is not clear). Naturally, after the industrial park dream died, the tracks were removed, and in the late 80s or early 90s, the city bought the land from Norfolk Southern.
Today, the most visible portion of the former right-of-way is the Greenway walking path, which traverses part of it. There is a dirt path under the I-20 bridge where the old grade is clearly visible. Unfortunately a subdivision was built over the next part of the line, and it disappears for many miles north of the bridge. Part of the grade can be followed to the TTX railcar facility south of town, near where the Norfolk Southern crosses the Savannah River.
Parts of this line are still in use. CSX uses part of the old G&F wye in Greenwood for car storage. Norfolk Southern uses part of the wye in North Augusta for car storage (TTX); the western leg of the wye was incorporated into the golf course as part of the cart path. The easternmost leg of the wye is the active NS mainline from Augusta to Columbia.
Thanks to Frankie Grove for contributing information.
I believe I found some of the old railroad bed in southern Greenwood county, near Kirksey. A friend and I were turkey hunting the other day and found an old railroad bed. It is located between Hwy. 25 and 178, in the Sumter National Forest. When was this railroad taken down? The gravel bed is still in good shape and there are many cross-ties laying about.
The Greenwood Extention, as it was commonly known was completed in 1929. It was the dream of the G&F to tap into new markets and obtain a friendly connection with the SAL and P&N. Unfortunately, construction expenses to finish this line broke the railroad's back and into recievership the G&F went for the second time. The Railroad never fully recovered and struggled until the Southern bought the line.
The segment from near North Augusta to Edgefield was abandoned first. I am not sure exactly when this occured but a concrete Highway bridge near Sweetwater is dated 1963, so it was there at least until then. Operations continued on the portion from Edgefield to Greenwood until 1971. The line lay dormant for 9 years until 1982, when Southern pulled up the remaining section. They also removed the big Trestle at Turkey Creek, north of Edgefield. The Ties were so rotten, there was no use in trying to salvage them and most were left in place. I took Pictures of this part of the line in 1982, just as track removal began. In 1985, I went hiking with a friend north of Edgefield and the Ties were still in place. Yes, that is the G&F grade at Kirskey. The Track from I-20 back to North Augusta was removed in 1987. It is tragic what happened to this line. At one point ACL President Thomas Rice offered to buy the G&F. If ACL had gotten this line, it would probably be in use today as part of CSX, no doubt because it had much better grades than the parallel C&WC mainline which operates today as CSX.
My late grandfather worked for the old Georgia & Florida. Mr.Cain if you have any pictures of the G&F I would gladly pay you for the copy of the pictures. my phone number is 864-200-8822. Please call me if you still have the photos Thank-You.
In 1987, some friends and I rode the old Georgia Florida road bed from Edgefield to Kirksey on ATV's. It was a good ride until we got to where the old trestle was that once crossed Turkey Creek. It was gone, we had to leave the row and take the rough terrain down and cross the creek. We continued on across US 378 and on to Kirksey. We would have gone to Greenwood, but daylight was running out. A steel trestle still stands on the old G&F between North Augusta and Edgefield.I got to see it recently and it is still an awesome site! It stands nearly 100 feet over a creek. It was nearly 500 feet long. The ends of the trestle were destroyed with dynamite in the early 1970's to keep people from trespassing on it.
I moved to a development south of Edgefield near the old rail bed three years ago, and I am actively working to get the old rail bed restored as a bike and pedestrian path. I am in contact with the Greeneway (yes, that's G-r-e-e-n-e after former NA mayor Thomas Greene) Trust and Augusta Transportion Study to extend the Greeneway, hopefully, to Greenwood in the north and Trenton and Aiken to the south. If you have an interest, please let your city/county/state planning and or transportation committees know.
I grew up a few hundred yards from this track in North Augusta after moving there as a small child in 1959. I have vivid memories of trains running on the track during this time and probably into the early 1960's. Can remember putting pennies on the track to be flattened by the trains. Friends used to paint graffiti and hang cloth signs on the trestle over Martintown Rd in our high school days. It's great that North Augusta has made this a walkway.
I would like to update this article. The Greenway Trail in North Augusta has been extended to I-20 and there is a parking area just to the north. This trail now exrends from I-20 all the way to North Augusta and passes through some deep cuts and high fills!!!! The Trestle in Edgefield County had it's ends blown down to keep people off the bridge after a hunter fell to his death in the 1970s. At the time, Southern Railway still owned the ROW. It wasn't until after 1982 that the Turkey Creek Trestle was removed north of Edgefield. We hiked out there in 1985 and evidence could be found to suggest the trestle had recently been taken down. The bridge near Pleasent Lane off Highway 25 is an old Highway bridge.
I have quite a lot of Pictures I would like to share here, or possibly do another article about the construction of this line. It is a very interseting story!!
The Jacob McKie trestle was taken down a few years ago and sold as scrap metal I believe. I had a buddy of mine who had land near it and we would go back there and hangout when we were younger and so he was told was that it was removed. The turkey creek bridge is just and old road bridge. I fell through it in November of 2013 about twenty feet and broke my leg. The wood platform is completely rotten.
News update... The North Augusta Greenway Trail built on the old G&F right of way has been further extended north past the I-20 bridges. It cuts right through the new subdivision and follows the old railroad bed a distance north before ending at a newly built road that is part of the same subdivision. Parking is at the I-20 bridges. Sadly, the Cheves Creek steel trestle north of this location was removed. Satelite images reveal only the concrete supports for the old trestle. The Greenwood Extention was one of the last major rail projects to be constructed and lasted only 35 years. 1929-1964
I was told years ago that the reason the Southern "railbanked" the former G&F between Greenwood and Edgefield was that section was slated to become part of a "Columbia Bypass" for unit coal trains heading to Santee Cooper and Charleston, where coal docks was to be constructed for export. Southern at the time had a lot of grade crossings in Columbia, as well as the crossing of other Southern and SCL lines, that would tie up traffic for unit trains. The Columbia Rail Relocation Project and the Norfolk Southern merger of the early 1980s made the plans moot and the line was taken up.
A section of the G&F in Greenwood was reactivated in the early 1980s as part of Southern's Greenwood Bypass (the line was reused as part of the Greenville-Alston route) This new arrangement would also allow Southern to abandon its own line through downtown Greenwood and also to just south of Honea Path, in favor of trackage rights on the parallel former Piedmont & Northern. After the former P&N was abandoned from just south of Belton, SC in 1990, NS cut back their Greenwood operations and removed the Greenwood Bypass, including the rebuilt section of the former Georgia and Florida ROW by 1992. Recently, sections of the former G&F ROW was turned into a paved walking trail within the last several years.