SR Abandonments in Wagener, Perry, and Salley, S.C. : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

When I was a youngster in the 1960's visiting my grandparents on their farm outside of Wagener, S.C., my father & I used to drive up SC 39 to follow the SR line. Occasionally, we'd be rewarded with actually seeing a train!

Unfortunately, time, family, career, etc., kept me from driving that route myself until a couple of weeks ago. While the SR in Wagener was pulled up in the 1930's (according to my mother who grew up there -The freight platform remains as a town pavilion), we noticed that the SR was gone from Perry & Salley as well. In Perry, Railroad Avenue remains, although I seem to recall the station burning some years ago. In Salley, the station has been moved from its former location, and is now the town hall. It's easy to follow the route from Perry to Salley: The grade was quite noticeable.

Any info on when these lines were abandoned and the operations they saw would be appreciated.

Thank you.

John Pinckney

-- John F. Pinckney (, June 20, 2000


I'm not an expert on railroads or the history of these, but I'll take a stab at it...

I never lived in Wagener, but I had family connections there since about 1970. I did live temporarily in the countryside not far from Seivern during the summer of 1988. I would go to work in Columbia by way of Pelion and Fish Hatchery road; the Southern line, that once passed through Perry and Salley, through Pelion to Cayce, was still "officially" open at least to Pelion, and possibly all the way to Barnwell, as of that time, but I don't recall once seeing a train there that year. By 1990 it was abandoned, at least at Pelion, all the way back toward Columbia at Edmund community, where the stub end of that line still serves the sand mines between Edmund and South Congaree. The tracks were taken up back to Edmund by 1994.

I had the impression that road mostly served a few light industries, commodities wholesalers (such as fuel oil jobbers), and agriculture, after passenger service ended. Hence, I strongly suspect by the 1970's it wasn't justifying its maintenance as trucks hauled more and more of that freight in that region. Actual trains, west of the sand mines of South Congaree, became quite rare. Possibly (strictly IMHO, you understand, a not-so-educated guess) a "moment of truth" arrived when large bridges, such as the one crossing the North Fork Edisto at Thor, needed major maintenance or else condemnation, as steel bridges eventually do.

I had developed some interest in finding out about those railroads in recent years. When I first saw downtown Wagener as a boy, I could tell instantly that a railroad had once run through it. The town was in fact named after the man, of a family prominent in the German-derived communities of southern South Carolina, who supposedly arranged for the Greenwood, Anderson, & Western road to pass through that town about 1895. On its way from about Barnwell or Allendale, it crossed and followed the North Fork Edisto River / Chinquapin Creek to Batesburg, where it connected with the Columbia and Augusta railroad.

What little other history I have consulted so far indicates that about that time the road was reorganized as the Seivern and Knoxville. (such ambition! Already went bankrupt once, never reached Greenwood or Anderson, much less Knoxville) (TN?!) It seems that by 1899 the S&K was operated by the Southern Railway, and by 1900 the Carolina Midlands Railroad had come out west from Cayce, creating Pelion and other whistle-stops along the way, joining the old S&K line at Perry. By about the turn of the century, it was operated as a line of Southern Railways. The CMRR was said to have extended the old GA&W line all the way south to Hardeeville, where it presumably could connect with (or form a transfer point to, railroad guages here in those days being notorious for varying randomly) the old Charleston and Savannah line, which CSX still operates. A 1974 highway map shows the old CMRR line (indicated as Southern) still as of that time extending past Barnwell as far as the village of Furman.

It crossed the main Southern line between Charleston and Augusta, the same route as the old Charleston and Hamburg line on which the "Best Friend of Charleston" operated, in Blackville. Had there been turnouts in Blackville, the old CMRR might have formed an alternate route connecting Columbia, Augusta/Aiken, Charleston, Barnwell, and Savannah. That Southern line between Branchville and the outskirts of Aiken was also abandoned in the 1980's.

Based on the fact that the corporate minutes of the S&K end in 1933 (Virginia Tech U. railroad archives), and that a 1940 highway map of the Batesburg area shows no sign of that line, I suspect the rail line from Perry through Wagener, Seivern, Steedman, Samaria, Kneece, to Batesburg, was abandoned in 1933. I have not checked the Wagener museum, or Va. Tech, so far.

Here and there you can still see some sections of old S&K roadbed beside the Seivern road, and north of Samaria, after nearly 70 years.

Hope you find this product of a particular bee in my bonnet informative, if not interesting.

-- Mitch Bailey (, May 01, 2001.

Thanks for the memories...this website popped up while checking out the web on Salley, SC. I live in CT and haven't been home for a bit; however, as a child growing up in Salley in the 60's and 70's I always remember standing on my grandparents porch at dinner time (12:00 pm sharp--they lived directly across the street from the cotton platform) while the train ran through. I'd pull my imaginary rope ringing the bell and the engineer whistled loud and clear -- to my delighted cheers...Mr. Conductor always came out on the caboose to wave at me as they rolled through our little town. I never saw the train stop but it was a great dinner time warning. I do have an older cousin who told me recently he road the passenger trains through Salley/Perry many moons ago.

-- Emmie Cooper (, January 19, 2004.

If you find yourself back in Salley, check out the museum in the old school house. You'll find photos of the train that took the tracks away. It's worth a stop.

-- Michelle "Salley" Rustad Crouch (, November 01, 2004.

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