Orangeburg to North, SC

The Orangeburg Railway ran from North, SC to Orangeburg. Not a great deal is known about this line. In downtown Orangeburg, rail were in place as late as the mid-1970s ending behind Edisto Gardens. The crossing over US Route 301 had automated flashers. This is where the Holiday Inn is now. Even finding where the line ran through town is becoming difficult.

Towns on the line from Orangeburg are Jennings, Culler, Robinson, Raymond, Fairview, Wolfton, Sistrunk, and to the SAL mainline at North.

The former bridge over Caw Caw Creek in Orangeburg was located h...
The former bridge over Caw Caw Creek in Orangeburg was located here. Remnants of the approach foundation can still be seen, and pilings are visible at low water. Photo by Whit Whitaker.
The ROW of the Orangeburg Railway ran about where the power pole...
The ROW of the Orangeburg Railway ran about where the power poles are located. The road is Riverbank Drive. Photo by Whit Whitaker.

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I was told that this railroad was built to bring forest products from North to Orangeburg. There were several other stops at the large farms along the way. There was a veneer mill and wood products mill behind where the hotel is now located. There were foundations and walls from this mill there into the early 1970's.

Ned Stribling
Orangeburg, SC

The 1913 soil map of western Orangeburg County shows this railroad line. It shows the line ending on Seaboard Avenue and Orangeburg and not crossing US 301 to the Atlantic Coast Line that also ran through Orangeburg. North Air Force occupies some of the North, SC end of the line.

Pat Blakely
Leesville, SC

According to Carolana, it was completed in 1913 by William C. Wolfe of Orangeburg. Towns/stops included





North (junction to the SAL "Southbound" leg of the S line.)

It went bankrupt twice, the 2nd time in 1920 at which time it was shut down and abandoned.

It seems a bit of a stretch that it would have left visible remnants into the 1970's after 50 yrs out of service, and flashers at US 301 (which didn't exist back then) too.

Could there have been a later spur off the nearby ACL main?

It's interesting that in Orangeburg just parallel to Seaboard street there are rows of intriguing buildings ending at Russell Street that appear to have old platforms and warehouse doors on the inner side as if a spur or team track could have run between them and ended there just southeast of Russell St.

The soil map, however, seems to show the rail line ending further back, perhaps near the present Arts Center and Albergotti Park. At the park, there is a fairly steep roundish bluff with the city water works at the top, and Seaboard St coming down the other side to Russell St., another row of possible platform buildings with team track space parallel to Elmwood St. SW and then a grade toward present US 301. Those seem like pretty steep grades for a train to climb. Perhaps there were trestles and inclines, and the water plant wasn't built until after 1920?

Mitch Bailey
Lexington County, SC

Well lo & behold, found a 1915 Sanford map that does show the O'burg RR running right thru the locations off Seaboard and Elmwood St's where I suspected the buildings were aligned and provided with platforms and boxcar doors to accommodate it (but the map does not depict the buildings being there at the time), crossed Russell, Calhoun (now route of US 301), Glover St, to junction just off the map with the ACL.

The 1922 map does not show any part or remnant of the Orangeburg RR at all.

I suppose a spur turning out from the ACL and crossing Calhoun St. could have been kept to later times, if there was still some demand in that neighborhood, e.g. a lumber mill. The 1922 map doesn't show a spur off the ACL, but it does show the (new since 1915?) "city water and light plant" on Seaboard St by the river.

Mitch Bailey
Lexington County, SC

There was definitely a short spur across Hwy 301 that ended just west of Russell Street. I grew up there, but never knew there was a rail line that extended past this point. There were several warehouses beside the track at its end. The course toward the west by the Arts facility is a mystery to me, because like you said, there is a drop off just past the ball fields. I used to hunt and fish the Caw Caw swamp and Plantation and remember the dirt road past Caw Caw Swamp was arrow straight, which makes sense now.

Bill Kea
Spartanburg, SC

"There was definitely a short spur across Hwy 301 that ended just west of Russell Street. ..."

Bill Kea, that's interesting. I'd not visited Orangeburg until pretty recently, but I went to that area of town to see what I could find. I went by there again last Sunday to look around, esp toward the CSX (former ACL) line.

I'm thinking the high knoll on which the water plant sits might be partly artificial, raised when the water plant was built apparently after 1920. The land level probably needed to be built up to allow the settling basins and other plant apparatus to be raised above the probable flood of the river, so maybe it wasn't as high and steep when the RR was intact?

I see vague traces that might be where the tracks crossed Langston St. going by the old buildings' SW ends between Elmwood and Maple St, though it might have been drainage work, and the probable route across the open field on the other side of Langston going down to Calhoun Dr (US 301/601).

The motel and shopping center construction across 301 would have probably obliterated the route there although an aerial view seems to reveal traces of possible ROW passing the motel property just to the west, then crossing Glover. Just between Glover & the CSX line is a swamp thru which Stonewall Jackson Blvd crosses.

I see on the aerial view, and possibly when I passed by at the CSX RR crossing on Stonewall Jackson Blvd, the remnants of a ROW and graded fill curving around SW at the edge of the swamp to approach the CSX line that well might have been a rail spur 40+ yrs ago. It looks like the turnout from the CSX mainline would have been very close to the Jackson Blvd crossing.

It would make perfect sense to me if there were still customers near Russell, Elmwood, and Langston streets into the 1960's they'd be served by a spur off the ACL that was the remnant of the Orangeburg RR. Unfortunately, I haven't found any maps from that period.

Mitch Bailey
Lexington County, SC

My grandfather owned one of those buildings on Langston Avenue that was served by rail. He had his own siding and purchased carloads of western lumber in the 1940-60's and carloads of finished millwork from 1950's to 60's. Line came off main line near where bypass crosses today and ran right into a large lumber mill and up to Langston and Russell. In early 60' line still went across Russell street to Orangeburg Building Supply (now upper parking lot for Gardens) Site was later the Putt Putt and A&W Root Beer. Today it is motel. Had no knowledge this spur was part of line proceeding further to North until informed by Ned Stribling (see post above) several years ago. Very interesting site, thanks to all for sharing.

James M Green
Orangeburg, SC

What I have found out that the railroad did cross 301 up until the early 70's. The power plant for Orangeburg was I where the gardens are now. The railroad ran through the power plant to the other in railroad Orangeburg. This is so they could bring coal to the plant.

My dad knew a man who had rode on it once. He said the engine was about the size of a tractor. It didn't have a turn around so it pulled in and pushed out.

Jamie Hallman
Orangeburg , SC

I grew up in Orangeburg and my next door neighbor owned the Putt Putt A&W on 301. His daughter baby sat my brother and I and we went there from time to time. From what I remember the line crossed 301 near here and I actually saw cars being switched at a business one night. This would be the late 60's early 70's. I think it was called Palmetto Sash and Door, which may be the millwork business mentioned earlier. I can remember the tracks went along a line of warehouse buildings along Seaboard St probably into the early 70's. One of these buildings was the original station. The Russell Street crossing was just protected by cross bucks and the 301 crossing had automatic flashers. The Department of Public Utilities has a power line right of way that uses the old right of way. It parallels Riverbank Drive until it dead ends into Lake Edisto Rd. The power lines cross Lake Edisto and continue towards North.

Whit Whitaker
Concord , NC

I worked at Palmetto Sash & Door in the summer of 1968 after my freshman year in college. The railroad ran beside the building and I helped unload box cars. The railroad extended across Russell Street. It connected with the Atlantic Coast Line RR near Stonewall Jackson Blvd behind the Southern Methodist College Campus. I heard stories about it extending in the other direction towards Wolfton. A lot of the area near the shopping center and the Wal-Mart grocery was landfill back then and was undeveloped.

Columbia, SC