Shoals Junction to Ware Shoals

The Ware Shoals Railroad

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This is where the railroad entered Ware Shoals. There was a bridge at this location until the tracks were taken up. It was then filled and paved. Photo by Byron Knight, May 2009.

Here is information from Peter Stabovitz on this line:

I had seen years ago some articles and pictures about it. It's prime purpose was for coal and other goods to and from the textile mill in Ware Shoals. I had seen a picture of one steam engine they had. I don't remember what articles or where the pictures were. But after the mill closed down, they were looking for a use for the railroad, but I don't think they found it. All of this is from memory. It must have been in the 60s or early 70s when it shut down. I have a 1956 atlas that shows railroads, and it shows it there. It shows it connecting to the P&N at Shoals Junction, which is about 1/2 way between Greenwood and Belton. I don't think it connected with the Southern which was also close by Shoals Junction. By the map, Shoals Junction is just a few miles Southeast of Donalds. I don't know exactly when the road was built, but it was at the same time as the Mill, which was probably in the early 1900s, after when the P&N built through there.

The following is information from the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor web site:

On the northern border of the county another textile center developed at Saluda River shoals. Nathaniel Dial of Laurens County and six other investors began construction of a textile mill to be operated by a hydroelectric power station, but they soon encountered financial difficulties. They persuaded Benjamin Riegel of New York to invest in the project. Riegel moved to South Carolina, completed the mill, and built the model town of Ware Shoals for his operatives.

The following is from an EPA Brownfield's web site:

WARE SHOALS, SC Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot $200,000

Ware Shoals' goal is to resurrect the heart of the Ware Shoals community by capitalizing on the natural beauty of the nearby Saluda River. The Pilot will target the 27-acre former Riegel Textile Corporation Mill site and provide the resources to perform environmental site assessments, encourage public involvement and stakeholder participation, and develop an ongoing monitoring plan.

The railroad was apparently finally abandoned in 1985.

Lived in Ware Shoals from 1959 to 1963. (High School) Was, still am, a train nut. Befriended local railroaders, actually took a ride on the WSRR in the caboose (no cupola) from W.S. to Shoals Junction and back when I was around 16.

Might have some B&W pictures, will have to look.

James E. Smith
Leesburg, FL
11/14/2013

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I would love to see you pictures

jgraves1776@gmail.com

Jack Graves
Ware Shoals, SC
11/15/2013

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While living in Charleston, SC, in 1992 I drove upstate to see what was left of the WSRR. The mill was still there and the track was gone but the right-of-way was still very visible. Oddly enough, I noticed there was still a coal hopper car inside the mill grounds that, for whatever reason, had been left behind. Unfortunately I could only see if from outside the plant grounds and could not read what, if any, roadname was on it. Most likely it was scrapped on site when mill was demolished. I recall hearing at the time that the old brick structure was being dismantled so its bricks could be re-used elsewhere.

In that same year I found the WSRR's caboose, seen here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/n303wr/5500591211/

It appeared that someone had recovered it from the abandoned WSRR and placed it on a CSX industrial spur on Hutchison Island, located in the river next to downtown Savannah, GA. By that point it had been there a while and vegetation was starting to crawl over it. I climbed the stairs and noticed the tender wooden planks on the end platform, rotting away, were sinking under my weight (and I wasn't fat) so I stepped back before I could fall through the floor. The tracks were abandoned and lifted not many years later and quite likely the decrepit caboose was demolished by that time.

The little GE 44-ton centercab locomotive may still exist. I believe it survived the line's demise but I'll have to check to see where it went from there.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
2/26/2015

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The Ware Shoals only diesel, a GE 44 Tonner, was originally built for the Chattanooga Traction Company. It was acquired by the WS in 1955, hence the road number, and painted in a Southern Railway-based paint scheme of green with off-white (aluminum). About 1979, the 1955 was sold to Greenville, SC-based Republic Locomotive Works, which overhauled the unit, repainted it in a blue & white scheme, then leased it back to the Ware Shoals (FWIW The large white "ZD" painted on the cab stood for "Zero Defects." After the line shut down, the 1955 went back to Republic Locomotive. Years ago, I've seen photos of it at a locomotive dealer in South Greenville, minus either one set or both sets of trucks. A sad sight to see.

As for the reason why the Ware Shoals shut down, a little background is needed. In the last few years of the railroad's existence, inbound coal for the mill was the only major traffic source, with occasional other loads (mainly inbound cotton) shipped as well. When the Southern abandoned their Greenwood-Honea Path line in favor of trackage rights on the parallel former Piedmont and Northern, then operated by CSX, the WS took over serving a pulpwood yard at Shoals Junction formerly serviced by SOU for a period of time. Trains were down from once (sometimes twice a day) to "on a as-needed basis."

The final blow was when the mill converted their boilers over to natural gas delivered by pipeline in 1985, it ended the coal shipments and the need for the railroad. The mill would close by 1990 and burn down in 1994.

Robyn

Robyn Watkins
Asheville , NC
11/5/2016

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