Wateree to Kings Creek

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(Forwarded from the Ohio River & Charleston Railroad)

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This line was originally built before 1870 as the Camden Branch of the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad. It then became part of the Wilmington, Columbia & Augusta, then came under the control of Southern by 1900 or so.

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.

The Line from Cherry rd. in Rock Hill to the end of line in Tirzah is out of service

Jonathan W. Filion
Palatka, FL
12/28/2008

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As of Dec 2006, the Foxville-Hasskamp section was out of service, as evidenced by the removal of crossing signals from US 378 Sumter Highway. By the fall of 2008 the control boxes had been removed as well but the tracks were still in place. If the connecting track at Foxville had been disconnected as of the mid '90s as Jimmy Summers stated, then there was no access to that section for that long, anyway?

BTW most of this article was actually by Jimmy Summers, I only contributed some info on the SC Railroad portion. I'm working on an update, & also a separate article on the Sumter - Sumter Junction spur mentioned in this article.

Mitch Bailey
Gaston, SC
1/17/2009

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I have learned that a steel fabrication company is thinking about building a new facility along the spur from Newport (on the out-of-service Rock Hill-Tirzah portion of the line) to the Duke Energy nuclear station. If this comes to pass, they would receive shipments of steel via the line. This would result in the reactivation of the line from Rock Hill (Herlong Ave.) to Newport to an area near Campbell Road on the Duke power plant spur.

As another side note, the portion of this line from downtown Rock Hill out to Hollis Lakes Road (near the Ebenener post office) has been mentioned as part of a future trolly line in Rock Hill.

Jimmy Summers
Rock Hill, SC
10/23/2009

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Mitch - regarding the Foxville to Hasskamp section, access was via the Columbia - Sumter CSX line. NS accessed the CSX line on the Columbia side of the river via the spur to the IP paper mill, then crossed the river on the CSX line, then accessed the NS line from Foxville to Hasskamp. The connection from the CSX line to the old NS line in Foxville is seen in the picture above (curving track with abandonment seen beyond that). You can't see it in the picture at the top, but the CSX Columbia - Sumter line crosses the abandonment in the distance... at the "heart" of Foxville. ;) This is what is shown in the picture just above this comment space.

Jimmy Summers
Rock Hill
10/23/2009

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I've been told that the line from Rock Hill to Tirzah is being kept open to a certain degree in case the Catawba nuclear power plant needs rail. Of course, the track looks worse for the wear and a few road crossings have been paved over. In contrast, a section of the track in Lancaster (now owned by the L&C but not used since NS went back to Rock Hill in March, 2001) looks relatively good.

Joe Hinson
Lancaster, SC
9/5/2010

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The crossing at 378 has been totally ripped out and paved over as of September 2010. Not sure what will happen to the line now, most likely rust away or be scrapped eventually. I suppose the sand plant in Horatio could start back up, but doubtful.

Adam P. McDowell
Sumter, SC
1/3/2011

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If you look at goggle maps the rails & ties have been removed inside the Catawba Nuclear Power Plant. So we well see what hapens

Jonathan Filion
Palatka, FL
1/16/2011

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The rails have been paved over to the nuclear station as well on Hwy. 274 and also here and there on the actual SB before the branch. Additionally, the tracks are under so much brush in some areas you can't even see them such as this shot --

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/6148867439/

I have additional photos of the SB Line from Sumter to Washburn (abandoned or not) at this location --

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/sets/72157625993995611/with/6148867439/

If the webmaster wishes to have any of these on his site, please just let me know through e-mail.

Joe Hinson
Columbia, SC
7/29/2012

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Also meant to add that NS no longer operates the SB out of Blacksburg. The line north toward Shelby is unused. CSX apparently operates the portion out of Shelby to the plant at Washburn.

NS also leased the line south of Blacksburg to Kings Creeek to the Carolina Coastal.

Joe Hinson
Columbia, SC
7/29/2012

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