Saturday, November 11, 2017

South Carolina Canal and Rail Road

Just as Baltimore decided in 1827 that it had to build a railroad, the B&O, into the hinterlands so that it could compete as a port with cities such as New York and Washington that had built a canal into the hinterlands; Charleston, SC also decided it needed a railroad to remain competitive as a port city. That railroad was the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road (SCC&RR).
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)

On December 25, 1830, it ran the first train in America with paying passengers. 141 people loaded that train at the Camden Depot. Although I doubt they were throwing luggage up as depicted in this "Wheels A-Rolling" pageant at the  Chicago 1948 Railroad Fair.

By 1833, The SCC&RR had reached its destination of Hamburg (now North Augusta, SC), which was 136 route-miles away. At that time it was the longest railroad in the world. To put 136 miles into perspective, the B&O, which would eventually reach Chicago and St. Louis, was still just 13 miles long. The strap-iron tracks were soon replaced with T-rail in the 1840s. (Until after the Civil War, America had to import all of its rails from England.) But their first locomotive, the Best Friend Of Charleston, was made in America.

After several corporate name changes, it was acquired by the Southern Railway in 1899 and became part of its Piedmont Division. Most of the route is now abandoned.


Not only did this railroad run the first scheduled passenger service, it was the first to carry the U.S. Mail. [About]

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