June,1842: The Locomotive Robert Y. Hayne Travels from Charleston to Columbia

After completing the line from Charleston to Columbia, the SC Railroad Co. added a rail connection off of that line to Camden. This stock, dated 1850, supports the Camden extension. Courtesy of the SC Historical Society.

The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company (SCC&RR) was chartered in 1827 and began constructing a line from Charleston to Hamburg in 1830. The railroad was built on piles, as that was less expensive than embanking. That 136-mile road was completed in 1833, with stops in Summerville, Blackville, Branchville and Aiken. As the company looked to expand, it was clear that piling was not effective, and the entire road had to be embanked.

Around the time that the SCC&RR was chartered, E.S. Thomas of Cincinnati (and formerly of Charleston) began to promote a rail line from Cincinnati to Charleston. The directors of the SCC&RR, along with the citizens of Cincinnati, were enthusiastic supporters of the idea of connecting Charleston to the Ohio River Valley. In 1836, the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad was chartered and the former governor of South Carolina, Robert Y. Hayne, was its first president.

In the late 1830s, the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Company gained control of the Charleston to Hamburg line and the new company was called the South Carolina Railroad Company. The company struggled financially but did complete a line to Columbia. The road split from the Charleston-Hamburg line at Branchville and traveled 66.3 miles through Orangeburg, St. Matthews, and Hopkins. The first train from Charleston pulled into Columbia on June 20, 1842. The locomotive was named after Robert Hayne, who passed away in 1839.

In 1848, the South Carolina Railroad added a line that split from the Columbia railroad at Kingsville and travelled to Camden. In 1853, a connection to Augusta, Georgia, was completed. Five years later, permission was granted to connect the South Carolina Railroad to the Georgia Railroad in Augusta, and Charleston finally obtained the much-anticipated rail connection to the west. Unfortunately, all of the track, trains, and buildings that belonged to the South Carolina Railroad were destroyed during the Civil War.

After the Civil War ended, the company began to rebuild and the rail connection between Charleston and Columbia was completed in early 1866. The South Carolina Railroad struggled financially until 1881, when it was sold to a group of financiers in New York. Still plagued by debt, it passed into receivership in 1889. In 1894, The South Carolina Railroad Company changed hands again and was operated as the South Carolina and Georgia Railroad. Southern Railway leased the road in 1899 and in 1904 that company consolidated it into the Southern Railway – Carolina division.

Written by: Faye Jensen
Date: June 2, 2023