Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Railway Stations in South Carolina – Saved and Hopeful!

Our recent trip over to Charleston South Carolina included a plan to find and photograph as many railway stations as we could find along our route.  Our route to Charleston was primarily via the Interstate System.  However, a couple of times, we did get off I-26 to follow along local highways to see if we could find any depots. 

We had a listing that showed where a number of depots used to be in South Carolina…but we struck out in Clinton, Chapin and Ridgeville.

However, we did score in the town of Prosperity.  This is the depot originally built by the Columbia, Newberry and Laurens Railroad.  The building has seen better days…but it’s also seen worse!  The Palmetto Trust and the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society have initiated plans to move and preserve this old depot.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a matching grant to help get the project started.  At this point, the building has been stabilized and its surroundings have been cleaned up.

To check on the progress of this project and to see the condition of the building and the site before this preservation effort started, just go to:

In the larger cities, it’s hard to locate the old, unused or modified railway depots and other facilities.  We did find one in Charleston… This former South Carolina Railroad freight depot was built in 1856 and it’s been repurposed as the Visitor’s Center for the City. 

The interior has been gutted, but the exterior still appears as it did…except for the skylights!
I wish that I’d done additional research on Charleston’s Railway facilities.  I had 7 listed and I hoped that they’d be easy to locate.  Wrong!  I missed ACL freight stations; the SCL/Amtrak station in North Charleston; the Railway Express Agency baggage facility; the Charleston trolley barn; the SAL Freight Station, (that is now been converted to a Harris-Teeter Grocery Store); the Southern Passenger Station, (now converted to offices); the SC Port Engine House; the 1851 Railroad Car Shop; the 1850 SCRR ‘Castle Depot’, (Now the Charleston Music Hall); 2 former SCRR warehouses, and: a former SCRR Passenger Depot.  Check it out at
The good news is that we sure will have lots of research to do and many old facilities to find during our next visit to Charleston!

This sad looking, mostly boarded up structure in Yemassee South Carolina is the passenger depot built by the Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad back in 1955.  It’s almost embarrassing to report that this is an active AmTrak Passenger Station.  During operating hours, the restrooms are open…other than that, all that's available to passengers, is the covered platform.

I pulled this photo from an Amtrak related website.  It shows passengers about to board a train at the Yemassee Depot.  There are 4 trains each day that stop at Yemassee… The northbound train is the ‘Palmetto’ and it stops here at 9:08 AM and at 8:52 PM.  The southbound train is the ‘Silver Meteor’.  It stops at Yemassee at 5:56 AM and at 8:04 PM.

Yemassee and this station used to be the Marine Corps ‘Gateway’ to the Parris Island Base about 20 miles south of town.  Between 1914 and 1964, 500,000 Marine Corps recruits passed through this station and its predecessor.
The good news is that the Yemassee Revitalization Corporation, a non-profit operation, purchased the station from CSX in September of 2010.  They have cleaned up the site and they’re in the process of raising funds to remodel/update the station.  They hope to restore the depot to an early 20th-century look, with a pitched roof and board-and-batten siding.   Local goals also include revitalizing part of the downtown.  There is another effort underway to convert a building that had been used as an overnight barracks for new Marine recruits, into a museum.
The back roads of South Carolina were quite fruitful…many more depots to come!  

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