We, of the Charleston Chapter, have been fortunate to have an on-going  correspondence with Tom Fetters, author of Logging Railroads of South Carolina, Piedmont & Northern and Palmetto Traction.  Tom’s help with old maps and with sifting through information to decipher fact and fiction has been valuable to us.  His letters read like a true adventure, as may be seen in the following:

Tom Fetters’ new book now available
Read the interesting material cut from the book
An exclusive to the Charleston Chapter NRHS
Special report exclusive to the Charleston Chapter NRHS
Update as of November 28, 2007 on Tom Fetters’ books


THE   1950/60’s


        I traveled a lot in my early years…born in Neenah, Wisconsin on Lake Winnebago near Appleton, went to nursery school at 3 in public school…moved to Eau Claire, WI, then to Akron where I had primary and then Kindergarten and half of first grade…then to Ottumwa, IA in Southeastern Iowa where I went from 1st to 8th with a 7th grade graduation to junior high.  My granddad worked for the Milwaukee Road and I was out there a lot to get into locomotives. They would tell me about the water-tube and how it never should go dry.  Big boom!..then they would turn the valve and the water would drain out.  BAM.  I was out of there and on the ground in no time.  Then to Whitefish Bay (Milwaukee) where the #15 trolley line stopped (terminated) across the street.  Graduated 8th grade there.  This semester had shop on Fridays at the high school and I had to take the trolley to get there.  Darn!  Then to Peoria, IL for high school to mid junior year.  Then to Charleston for a year and a half to graduation from the High School of Charleston.  Then to Clemson for four years.  Folks moved in October to Evanston, IL and wanted me to transfer, but I stayed on as in-state student based on original registration.  Chemical Engineering.  Rode the Pickens, the Tallulah Falls in part, the Cliffside, the Greenville & Northern and got up to Graham County when it was still all original.  Rode over Saluda Grade in the cab of the Carolina Special with a Road Foreman and the crew told me all the stories of all the wrecks on the line along there.We nearly hit a car near Hendersonville which sobered us all up.  It was a long 1958 Chrysler product and the lady pulled across the tracks and stopped to enter a highway.  Her wheels were clear, but the tail fins were over the first rail.  We blew the horn over and over and she looked up knowing she was ok.  At the last minute, the highway cleared and she drove on.  Never knew how close that was.

We lived at 160 S. Broad Street, a magnificent building with  great white columns on the north side of the street, so we were not “South of Broad.”  This was convenient to the Market Street area and I bicycled all over the waterfront and up to Line Street.  Regularly followed the meanderings of the PUC 44 ton on the back streets.  I was following it one morning at the docks when the dock caught on fire and I was the first to spot it burning about halfway out the length.  Yelled for the crew to get help, and then went home to get a camera.  A spectacular fire that took out a pier with rails on it.  It was about a block east of Market Street.

I was there when the Ashley Bridge was knocked out and the SAL brought in a commuter train to run from Grove Street to Route 17 near Ravenel.  Rode it over and back.  Very slow boarding and unboarding as no one knew just how it all was to work.

On graduation I gave myself a trip on the SAL using the 9900 self propelled slope nosed doodlebug up to Hamlet and the Silver Star to Atlanta.  On the way back, I was extracted from the heavyweight coach just after we got out of Atalanta and the conductor put me in a lightweight stainless steel car to sleep until Hamlet when they woke me for the connection back to Charleston.  Now that was special service.  They did not want to have to keep waking me at the various stops and I got my own car that was dead heading to Raleigh.

I also gave myself a triangle trip: SR up to Union Station in Columbia, a walk over to SAL Station and the Meteor to Savannah, and a wait to catch the East Coast Champion back to North Charleston.  Rode in one of the cars with the big windows, to compensate for a dome.

I worked at the Holly House Restaurant at the V on route 17 as you left the bridge where one road went up the Ashley, 17 to Savannah and a third road took off for Folly Beach.  I was dishwasher and while the owner was always crabbing at me, I later heard from my replacement when I went to school that I was held up as the example of good work ethics.  My neighbor friend took my job when I went to Clemson and  later when he came up, he was my roommate.

I had to clean the windows, big plate glass jobs, and tired of walking forward and shifted to walking backward to use the other arm.  Touched the neon sign with my head near my ear and woke up with a crowd staring down at me.  Jumped up and went back to work.  Finished the 8 hours, rode the bike home and went to bed.  Never told my folks.  (Try that stunt today.  You’d be whisked off to the hospital for observation at the very least.)


    Tom recommends the following books:

Tallulah Falls Railroad, A Photographic Remembrance by Brian Boyd
– 138 pages including material on The Great Locomotive Chase by Disney –
The Rocky Road to Nowhere by Betty Plisco
– a history of the Blue Ridge Railroad in SC –
Newry, A Place Apart by Michael Hembree
– an intact mill village near Lake Toxaway, served by a Southern Rwy spur with a steeper grade than Saluda, so steep that the cars had the brakes set up tight and the engine would drag the cars down the hill –

        Tom’s book, Logging Railroads of SC, includes a picture of  the J. F. Prettyman Locomotive of Summerville.  No one seems to know of this locomotive’s current location, not even relatives of the Prettymans.  Any information  in this regard would be appreciated.

        It’s interesting to note that both copies of this book are currently checked out at the Main and Mt. Pleasant Libraries.  Obviously local railfans are on the prowl!  That’s good news.  The South Carolina Room of the Charleston Public Library does have a reference copy for those who want to read the book at the library.  (reprinted with permission of T. Fetters)

* April 2004


        I have been intensely working on the Champion Fibre lines including Champion Lumber, Smokemont and the others in the Catalooche are (just west of Interstate 40) and north of Canton.I found a site on the internet with an interesting item attached.  It was one of the Southern Railway sites, and there was an agreement between SR and SAL.  It has great interest to your group.

The agreement, dated January 3, 1917, gave permission for SAL to use the SR tracks to reach the Phosphate district.  I think this is just after the SAL arrived in Charleston.  They came down the Cooper River side to reach the City and cut over on Grove St to bridge the Ashley.  The station was on Grove.  The agreement allows for a connection to the Southern at Grove (located 1 mile from the end of track on SR) and to use the next 3 miles headed out of town.  This includes the Southern’s WEST SHORE TERMINAL RAILWAY which I have heard of but could never tie down.  Not attached, but mentioned as attached in the text, is a map of the area with the WSTRwy marked out.  This would be great to see.
Reading into the text, SAL had asked to cross the SR and the ACL, but neither was keen on that.  ACL declined after being denied by the SAL at Cheraw when ACL asked to cross the SAL main there to reach a customer.  So it is a revenge thing.ACL has a line along the Ashley River,  SAL has a line along the Cooper, and SR has a line down the middle, according to the notes.  The ACL Ashley River line is of interest too as I am not sure what this line is.  SR is very careful to point out that while the SAL can use the tracks, for a price, they are NOT to carry any traffic for any other line in the area, which has to be ACL.Someone in Charleston may want to try to get a good 1917 map of the Phosphate area to see who owns what.  I will try to find a map on the web. (reprinted with permission of T. Fetters)

* December 2004


Our friend and scholar, Tom Fetters, has maintained a running dialogue with our Chapter and we have benefited from his research,  which has gone beyond the man-on-the-street base of information.   With the following letters, Tom shares information about railroading in our section of the country and even about the Civil War, with much of his information being counter to the most popular ideas.  His passion for investigating a subject and his ability to formulate sound ideas based on his investigations make his contributions very interesting and worthwhile.   Read on and be entertained and better informed:

October 14, 1985

        In the September 1985 “The Best Friend” (newsletter) there was a short story on Branchville, SC.  I thought I would write with an alternative version of the story although most fans would agree with the story as you printed it.First, the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company (not the SC Railroad and Canal Company) was a holding company that controlled both the Santee Canal and the Charleston & Hamburg Railroad.  It was the C&H that built the line to Augusta (actually to Hamburg, SC across the Savannah River from nearby Augusta) when they mention the parent company, the SCC&RR.All of this becomes confusing, but I believe that the average man on the street would be much more familiar with the C&H than with the SCC&RR if you were able to go back to 1835 and question him.  Note that William Howard, US Civil Engineer, published his report in Charleston in 1829 on this subject: “Report on the Charleston & Hamburg Rail-Road to the President and Directors of the South Carolina Canal & Rail-Road Company.”

The line was built straight through to Hamburg passing through the area where Branchville is today, but little was actually there…or at many of the .locations that later became towns.  Most were names for nearby local farms or plantations:  Blackville was two or three log houses and a half built tavern during the first month of full operation.  (It is interesting to note the bill of fare: 30 passengers shared the accommodations in five rooms, with a “miserable” meal and then breakfast for $4.00 at a time when the dollar was really worth something.)

The Columbia Railroad was the first to propose a line to Columbia from the mainline of the C&HRR.  This was in 1833, but the company failed in 1835 without building although the survey was made.

The Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad was organized in 1835 with the same purpose.  John C. Calhoun and Robert Y. Hayne both had routes in mind to reach Cincinnati and had bitter arguments over which was better.  (The letter are bound under the title “Controversy between John C. Calhoun and Robt. Y. Hayne as to the proper route of a railroad from the South Carolina to the West” by Jno. Cleveland in 1913.

The Cin. & Charl. had its charter amended in 1836 and emerged as the Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston Railroad.  Robert Y. Hayne became the president of the LC&C and he will be familiar to you as former Governor of the State of SC, Speaker of the House, Attorney General, and first Mayor of the City of Charleston!

The LC&C had financial trouble and formed the Southwestern Railroad Bank.  The bank was not responsible for the railroad debts, but the LC&C WAS responsible for the BANK”s debts!!  (The Central of Georgia and the Georgia RR & Banking Co. are other examples of this form of financing…C of Ga. had the Central RR & Banking Company in its corner.)

To finance the new company, they bought the C&HRR from the SCC&RR on December 28, 1837 for $2,400,000.  (This is the purchase that most people have forgotten, and a few recall the LC&C as taking over the C&H operations.)  Hayne, himself, talked of this on September 16, 1839 when he said, “The purchases of the Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road on credit…”

The LC&C reduced the running time from Hamburg to Charleston from 12 hours to 10 hours and eliminated the stationary steam engines at the inclined planes by going to a counterbalanced steam locomotive system (but that’s another story).

In 1838 the LC&C started construction on the branch to Columbia and 17 miles were opened in 1840.  The .line reached Columbia in 1842 and they avoided the use of inclines as originally planned for the line.  Years of operating the Aiken inclines had shown the wisdom of going out of the way to avoid their construction.  (This was a lesson to be learned by the Pennsylvania Railroad when it first took over the Portage Railroad out of Altoona to the west.)  The first train reached Columbia on June 20, 1842 and the first freight train arrived on July 1of that year.  Total cost of construction was $2,274,906.21.  Interestingly, the first train was hauled into Columbia by the “Robt. Y. Hayne” although Hayne had passed away in 1839 and never saw the line completed!

This is a rambling account, but a lot of fun and it may make many of your readers sit up since it is so different from the popular version of the railroad’s history.  I have spent a great deal of time going through the old issues of American Railway Journals printed at the time all of this was going on and also utilized a great number of little known sources that substantially prove that this is what happened.  I hope to publish the

entire story sometime when I can find someone who is interested.  Right now I am trying to get the story of the logging railroads out and this has taken all my spare time for the past two years.  (reprinted with permission of T. Fetters)

Note:  The September 1985 newsletter  that generated Tom’s reply is not a part of our current inventory, but reading it would be most interesting.   If anyone has that newsletter, we would like to have a copy.


JULY 5, 1989

            Tom writes:  You may want to add the following information to your account of E. L. Miller’s life:
E. L. Miller ordered Baldwin’s second full size locomotive and the first to utilize Baldwin’s patented “half crank” in which the wheel formed an arm of the driving crank by the use of an offset extension of the axle fastened to a wheel spoke.  The engine was ordered in 1833.  This locomotive, the Charleston & Hamburg’s tenth, was named for Miller and was completed on February 18, 1834.  The E. L. Miller was the first C&H locomotive to have a swiveling four wheel truck at the front and a pair of 54″ driving wheels with the half crank located behind the firebox.  The drivers were cast of solid bell metal, but these brass wheels which were to have superior adhesion soon wore out.  No other locomotives were built with the same feature, although some were built later with brass tires.

The C&H was disappointed in the performance of the engine and did not order another Baldwin product until 1836 when its 28th engine, “The Philadelphia” was ordered.This information fleshes out a bit of your story.   The E. L. Miller was sold to the Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road…not to the South Carolina Railroad.  It was the South Carolina Rail Road that was formed in 1848, nine years later.I think it interesting to consider the half crank, the swiveling truck and the brass wheels as all innovative departures from the C&H norm.  The C&H did try another 4-2-0 with the Sumter, a Stevenson built in 1835.  The E. L. Miller was rebuilt by the SCRR in 1845 when it became the Edgefield (the second of that name) and was scrapped out in 1850.  (reprinted with permission of T. Fetters)

It should be understood that the Savannah Valley Railroad existed as a paper charter for two years and as a construction company building the Anderson Branch of the Augusta & Knoxville RR in 1885.  I do not think any trains operated as Savannah Valley Railroad trains.  The line is perhaps best known as the Anderson Branch of the Charleston & Western Carolina.

Greenwood wanted a through rail route to Augusta instead of shipping freight southeast over the Columbia & Greenville to Columbia and then west over the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta to Augusta.  The city of 1300 chartered the Augusta & Knoxville on February 19, 1880 and hired convict labor to build the line.  Track was laid a mile at a time as funds were low.

The A&K opened on May 1, 1882.  The Greenwood depot was an old boxcar.  Once the line opened it was swamped with cotton bales headed for the New England cotton mills.

The Central Railroad & Banking Company (Central of Georgia) soon saw the A&K as an excellent feeder line for its route to the Port of Savanna.  There was little thought of putting the bales on steamboats or using the controlled Port Royal & Augusta to head southeast to the Port at Port Royal.

In 1883, the CofGa used the PR&A to lease the A&K for direct control.

In 1885, the CRR&B financed the construction of two subsidiary lines: the Savannah Valley RR and the Greenwood, Laurens and Spartanburg.

The Savannah Valley Railroad had been chartered on March 12, 1878 to run from Anderson to Augusta.

In 1880, the charter was amended to allow the line to run via Edgefield to Aiken to connect with the South Carolina RR.  It was permitted to cross the Charlotte. Columbia & Augusta and to interchange with it,  and with the new Augusta & Knoxville under construction.

In 1883, the CRR&B purchased the SVRR charter and used the Savannah Valley as a construction company for an Anderson Branch of the A&K.  The new line ran from McCormick through Bordeaux, Calhoun Falls, Barnes and Iva to reach Anderson in 1885.  When completed, the SV was merged into the Augusta & Knoxville.

The State of South Carolina was dismayed to see all the cotton headed to market via Savannah and soon wrote a bill requiring all railroads in South Carolina to have a South Carolina charter,

This freed the PR&A and the A&K from Central of Georgia control and eventually to form the Charleston & Western Carolina which was the former PR&A and the Port Royal & Western Carolina. 

Strange enough, but the Atlantic Coast Line of South Carolina which controlled the ACL lines in the state BECAME the Atlantic Coast Line when all the out of state lines of the ACL merged into the ACLofSC which changed its name.

The Seaboard Air Line used its Carolina, Atlantic & Western to control all the South Carolina  SAL lines and then began doing business as the Seaboard Air Line and all the out of state SAL companies were merged into the CA&W (SAL) to comply with the new law.

The Clinchfield, set up by the ACL and the L&N in joint ownership to operate the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio, had to form a Clinchfield RR of SC owned by the ACL(SC) and the new L&N Railroad of SC set up to control the 28 miles of South Carolina tracks.  While the ACL and SAL manipulations were virtually invisible, the L&N of SC existed to the turn of the century if not later.

The Central of Georgia was sent packing, and never returned to operate rails in South Carolina.

Tom Fetters

October 2013

From Tom, October 2014:
The HO modelers will be excited to learn that Con-cor is coming out with a set of ready to run Ventilated boxcars by the first of the year.  Included is the Atlantic Coast Dispatch lettering for the Pennsylvania-ACL jointly owned company.
Santee River Cypress Lumber of Ferguson, SC shipped out trainloads of ACD cats every day in peak season.
They will have about 8 other paint schemes.
These are ready to run, not the kits released back in the 1960’s.  The car is based on an ACL prototype.
Members will want to know this.
The NEW July-October issue of Railroad Model Craftsman has the Con-cor ad.

The following request was sent to Tom Fetters in November 2013:

I’m contact you regarding my efforts to obtain information regarding a former Southern (and South Carolina & Georgia RR) business car now owned by the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, AZ.  The car appears to have been built in 1879 (per SOU records) and was #101 while on the SC&G.  I have examined all available SC&G records I have been able to track down dating back to 1894 but it does not show up – probably meaning that it was inherited from the SC Railway.

I thought you may have come across some reference to it on your research regarding the Charleston & Hamburg.  A good guess might be that it was acquired at the time the SCRR was taken over by northern management in 1881.  The road’s financial condition prior to that occasion probably meant it was not in the market for adding business cars to its roster.  I realize that this period was after the focus of your current research on the C&H.  But you may have come across an archive or two that may relate to my search.

Thanks for whatever assistance you may be able to provide.

Arizona Railway Museum

Chandler, AZ

Tom replied:

The South Carolina Rail Road dates back to 1843 and the merger of the SC Canal & RR Co, running from Charleston to Hamburg across the Savannah River from Augusta, GA,  with the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston which ran from Branchville (on the Charleston & Hamburg) to Orangeburg and up to Columbia, the State Capitol.  The LC&C had given up plans to reach Louisville and Cincinnati because of the mountain ranges along the route.

The SCRR rebuilt the line after the War Between the States, but was very low on cash reserves.

In 1873 the company owned 42 locomotives, 22 first class passenger cars, 25 second class passenger cars, and 497 freight cars.  No business car was mentioned.  In 1878 it went into receivership.

In 1881 it was purchased by New Yorkers who renamed it the South  Carolina RAILWAY.

The SC Rwy. operated from 1881 to 1894.

In 1882 and 83, the company built new wharves, warehouses, freight sheds and slips on the Cooper River at Charleston.  They were associated with New York & Charleston Steamship Company.

The built a new line to Lambs to a huge phosphate mining operation that had three trains in and three trains out every day for workers.  (1883)

1885:  The SC Rwy.  had 46 locomotives, 34 passenger cars and 800 freight cars.  Passenger cars had dropped from 47 to 34 in 12 years.

I do not think a business car was part of this mix at this time.

1886, The line changed from 5 Foot to Standard Gauge on June 1, 1886.

The South Carolina & Georgia Railroad was organized in 1894 to purchase the bankrupt SC Rwy.  The Richmond & Danville was formed the same year and began to invest in the SC&G. The SC&G was “The Old Reliable” at the time.

The Augusta Southern was chartered in 1893 and leased in perpetuity to SC&G in 1897. These tracks ran from Augusta to Tennille, GA via  Wrens and Sandersville.

Southern Railway gained control through stock in 1899, but continued operations as the SC&G.

On April 30, 1899, the SC&G was merged into a new company: Southern Railway – Carolina Division.  The lease of the Augusta Southern was annulled on April 25, 1901 as it had no value to Southern Railway analysts.

TheSC&G Extension RR was merged into the SR-CD in 1902.

Using this data base, Your Business Car 101 built in 1879 was never part of the SCRR, nor the SCRwy as they were hard pressed to stay alive without a business car on the line.

It appears to me that the SC&G was given the car by the Southern Railway while they controlled the line and operated it as the SC&G.  Within a year the line was SR-CD which could afford a prestigious car.

Since the SC&G records back to 1894 do not list the car, this seems to match the data.

This may be more than you wanted to know, but makes a good case for Southern passing the car over to SC&G while it was in Southern control under the SC&G name.

Can you send a photo of the car in its earliest recording?  E-Mail would be fine.

Tom Fetters

Buddy Hill seems to have contributed to a history of the Charleston & Western Carolina on the Internet.
A 1904 Rand McNally map is attached and there is a NEW UNKNOWN Railroad shown for folks to investigate.
On the Southern between Branchville and Orangeburg there are two communities:  Sixty Six and Rowesville.
The Branchville & Bowman leaves Branchville and runs northeast to Bowman..
The B. L. Co. leaves Rowesville and runs northeast to Bethel Church area which is north of Bowman and north of Dibble and close to Four Hole Swamp.
Rowesville is the Town of Rowesville and about 65% Black.  There was once a large plantation house at or near Rowesville.
The 1920 Topo maps at USC  show nothing of this railroad.
The name suggests “Lumber”  and “Company”  but I have nothing else to help.
A 1904 Southern timetable MAY show a rail connection at Rowesville.
Good luck.
Who can solve this mystery??
(December 20, 2014)