Ravenel to Yonges Island
— User Comments —
To the best of my knowledge and frequent road trips to Yonges Island in the 1950's I had the impression that the ACL abandoned piecemeal much of what l call farm branches during the 1950's. I do know that old ACL TT's that I read referred to the end-of-track in Meggetts, S.C. as "Drainage." Unforunately I no longer have or can find the relevant TTs.
According to _ACL Railroad Album_ by Albert Langley, Jr, the following branches were abandoned in 1952:
Meggetts-Yonges Is. 2.12 mi
Toogoodoo Spur 4.45 mi
Hollywood Spur 11.41 mi
The Hollywood spur more-or-less followed the SAL EC mainline to the west to Barrelville, crossing and recrossing the EC until just past Barrelville it crossed Toogoodoo Creek and went some distance southwards roughly following today's hwy SC 174 as far as a place called "Puck." Where SC 174 (the Edisto Island highway) crosses Toogoodoo Creek just south of Barrelville, probable remnants of the Hollywood Spur crossing just upstream/west can be seen.
Barrelville used to be home to a large cooperage concern that manufactured barrels from local wood used to haul produce on both the ACL & the SAL.
Thomas Fetters, in his history of SC logging railroads, has quite a bit of info on these spurs, including some maps. They were used primarily to serve intensive produce farming - this area and further west to the outskirts of Beaufort was once called the "Cabbage Capital of the World," - and a number of logging and timber concerns.
The Ravenel to Yonges Island branch and spur network was one of the more interesting and little documented railroad operatons that tapped into the truck farm area south of Charleston. The branch was initially constructed by the Plant System in the 1880s and 90s and taken over and expanded when the ACL acquired that road. In its heyday during the late teens and early 20s, the railroad operated just under 25 miles of branch and spurs (Hollywood, Toogoodoo, Blitches, and Magwood). Prior to the arrival of the SAL EC Line, the ACL Branch network generated over 6000 car loads of produce. Just about every type of crop was planted but the primary crops were cabbage and potatos.
Depots were located at Ravenel, Meggett, and Yonges Island. Yonges Island also had a wharf where barrels and crates of produce grown on the adjacent sea islands were transferred from boats and barges into reefers and ventilated boxcars. During the early teens and 20s, the ACL operated an icing platform on the Meggett side of the ACL-SAL crossing. In later years, icing reefers took place at the former brick ice house in Drainage (Hollywood SC).
Standard operation during the produce rush was to station three Copperhead 4-6-0s at Meggett to work the branch and spurs. Once enough cars were loaded to make a train two of the locomotives would forward the train to Ravenel - one on front and one pushing on the rear. The extra engine was needed to help the train make it up the 1.0%+ grade out of Mellichamp Swamp. There were also three Meggett Extras each day that shuttled empties/loads between Bennett Yard in North Charleston and Ravenel.
The end came in 1951 when the Yonges Island wharf and potatoe washer were destroyed by fire. The ACL had been losing money and attempted to abandon the entire branch back to Ravenel. As part of the negotiated agreement between the railroad, ICC, and public, the ACL was allowed to abandon the Meggett-Yonges Island portion of the branch and the Hollywood and Toogoodoo Spurs. The railroad was forced to keep the Ravenel - Meggett and Toogoodoo-Magwood Spurs. The line was cut back to Hollwood (formerly Drainage) around 1970-71. The line was further cut back to Ravenel in 1976. All that remains is the south leg of the wye which now serves as a siding for a fertilizer bagging operation.
I'm preparing an article for the ACL&SALRRHS that will summarize all the above with station maps, track profiles, railroad telegrams, photos, etc.
Love this article and the info in it. I have heard many storys about the tracks in Meggett and about the old potato sheds and packing houses. I have found nobody who has pictures of though. I have herd storys from locals like Donald Postell and Jessie Magratie about the old Cabbage farms and where the tracks us to run. Would love to find if some people have storys or pics would be great.