This railroad line was built from Marion, NC, to Camden, SC, between 1886 and 1889 by the Charleston, Cincinatti and Chicago Railroad (the Triple C). The Triple C was formed to develop a connection between the Ohio River at Cincinatti and the Atlantic Ocean at Charleston. The original plan was for the line to extend from Camden through Sumter to Charleston. In 1890, a major investor in the railroad failed and the road went into receivership. In 1893, the Triple C was sold and became the Ohio River & Charleston Railroad. The new company was still having trouble, and in 1898, the segment from Marion, NC, to Camden, SC was sold to the Southern Railway. Only one section of the Ohio River & Charleston remained in the company's hands, from Johnson City, TN down into North Carolina. This segment soon became part of the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio (the Clinchfield), and this entire line is still operated by CSX.
The section of railroad between Camden and Wateree was the oldest section. It was built in 1848 as the Camden Branch of the South Carolina Railroad. In 1854 the Wilmington & Manchester (later the Wilmington, Columbia & Augusta) joined it with a wye at Wateree Junction where the SCRR curved west to cross the Wateree River.
In April 1865, Union Gen. Edward E. Potter's forces discovered nine locomotives and 200 units of rolling stock belonging to both railroads parked near the junction, which they thoroughly destroyed. The explosions scattered all sorts of artifacts, from cannonballs to buttons, into the woods and swamps. These are still being found to this day.
In about 1872, the WC&A abandoned and took up some of the rail on the segment of the old W&M from Wateree Junction. Remnants (mostly pilings) of the old wye and W&M trackage can still be seen near the former junction. The WC&A used the salvaged rail to build the line from Sumter to Columbia (later ACL, now CSX).
At some point, apparently after the Camden Branch came under the control of Southern in 1899 and definitely before 1907, the line to Sumter was rebuilt. It was then abandoned for good by 1940. This former ROW can only be made out in a few places where it has been used for dirt roads, mostly around Manchester (just outside of today's Poinsett State Park).
Southern/Norfolk-Southern began to abandon segments of this line in the 1980s. The line was first severed between Camden and Westville (16 miles) around 1980. The section between York and Kings Creek (18.3 miles) was abandoned in the mid-1980s. The segments from Westville to Kershaw (7.4 miles) and from York to Tirzah (4.7 miles) were abandoned in the mid to late 1980s. As for the old Camden Branch, the segment from Hasskamp to Camden (14 miles) was abandoned in the late 1980s, and the section from Foxville to Wateree was abandoned in the mid-1990s. On March 21, 2001, the section between the Lancaster side of the Catawba River and Kershaw was leased (actually a purchase-lease deal) to the Lancaster & Chester Railroad as part of a NS restructuring effort to sell or abandon over 3000 miles of railroad. In South Carolina, NS still operates the segments from the NC state line through Blacksburg to Kings Creek, from Tirzah (the Suburban Propane storage facility there) through Rock Hill to the Catawba River (Bowater), from Kingville to Wateree, and from Foxville to Hasskamp. NS uses trackage rights over the CSX Columbia-Sumter branch to reach this last section. In most places, the abandoned right of way is still very easy to make out.
Thanks to Mitch Bailey for contributing information about this route.