Sumter to Bishopville

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Seaboard Air Line Railway in Sumter, from 1924. This view is thought to be where Manning Avenue and Main Street crossed. The depot is possibly located on the right-hand side of the tracks. Thanks to Mayor Bubba for the picture.

This line was built after 1907 and was one of the branches that the Seaboard Air Line had in the Pee Dee area of the South Carolina in the area between the "S-Line" from Hamlet to Columbia and the line between Hamlet and Charleston. For much of this line's existence, it was the only non-ACL rail connection to Sumter, as Southern Railway pulled out of Sumter before 1940.

This line entered Sumter from the north along US 15 and terminated in a small yard along what is now Lafayette Boulevard near Liberty Street. A small exchange track was put in at some point so that SAL could exchange some cars with the ACL. The line ran through "towns" like Manville and Ashwood, but there was really not much else to ship between Sumter and Bishopville other than agricultural products. In the 1960s, the line saw service 3 times a week. After the merger of ACL and SAL, the line saw less service.

The line between Sumter and Bishopville was abandoned in 1982, and the track was pulled up by 1984. The large overhead bridge on which US 15 crossed this line near Ashwood was removed in the late 1980s. The bridge carrying the US 76/378 bypass over this line remains in place. It is still possible to make out the right-of-way in most areas, and a trail has been installed over the ROW near the B-D Plant north of Sumter. The I-20 bridge over this line was left in place also, and the former ROW experienced a rebirth for several miles here in 1999. The South Carolina Central Railroad (SCRF) installed new rail and reactivated this line from Bishopville to a mile south of I-20 at the landfill there (the purpose was to serve the landfill). The SCRF operates the remaining former SAL branch from Bishopville to Hartsville, and then former ACL trackage from Hartsville through Darlington to Florence.

Jimmy Summers reports last seeing a full-size freight train on this line in 1974, heading north out of Sumter along Lafayette Boulevard.

Was Williams Furniture perchance a major customer after its old plant burned c. 1933, & the new one was built near the end of the SAL branch?

Mitch Bailey
Lexington County, SC
10/30/2011

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Re date of construction; Found some Sanborn maps of Sumter online.

It was not shown on the 1912 map, but on the 1915 map a branch of the Carolina, Atlantic, & Western Rwy is indicated. CA&W was an SAL predecessor that owned branch lines that became the later SAL branches around McBee, Hartsville, & Florence.

Mitch Bailey
Lexington County, SC
12/27/2011

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With all due respect to former Mayor 'Bubba', either the caption or the photo showing the "Seaboard Air Line Railway in Sumter, from 1924" is totally wrong.

The SAL trackage ended at the corner of East Hampton Avenue and Green Street, which is over 1/2 mile from where Manning Avenue and Main Street 'cross'.

I guess what I'm saying, basically, is that if the photo is of the SAL, it's not at Manning and Main, and if it is at Manning and Main, it's not SAL track but ACL.

Ron Stafford
Edinboro, PA
7/11/2012

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Ron Stafford is correct. The photo purporting to be of "The Seaboard Air Line Railway, From 1924" is actually of the main rail yard in Sumter, to which this line did not connect until many years later. Seaboard Air Line had it's own depot, which was demolished sometime in the 1970s. This site is presently the location of a Piggly Wiggly grocery store facing on Calhoun St. The tracks were abandoned years ago, and later removed.

Bentley Fishburne
Sumter, SC
1/1/2013

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I have to say I think you are both correct Ron and Bentley. When Mayor Bubba gave me the picture and relayed where he thought it was from (and that it was the SAL), I didn't question it.

Jimmy Summers
Rock Hill, SC
5/1/2013

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Here is the Sanborn Maps Link

http://library.sc.edu/digital/collections/sanborn.html

Charles
Sumter, SC
9/22/2014

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