old acl main line, charleston, sc

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Did the old ACL main line used to go into downtown Charleston? As I notice the track layout, it appears that it may have continued south at the site of old SY Tower, went into "town" and continued south to Johns Island (and beyond, of course). Was this the case, and if so, when was the "new track" laid that bypassed Charleston proper from SY to Johns Island? Any info; dates, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, David R. Smith (drs)

-- david r. smith, jr. (smithtrains@coastalnet.com), December 02, 1998


I should have proof read my contribution about Charleston Union Station (CUS) before sending it out. As I now read the article, I see a number of errors. corrections: line 2 / add 'S to it (it's line into...), line 5 / add THE between the words of and city (of the city...), line 7 / add a space between tower and the (, line 8 / add the word RIVER after Cooper (Copper River, crossing...), line 11 / change the word faced to FACING (facing Columbus...),line 15 / add after the word channel OF TOWN CREEK (channel of Town Creek),line 21, 22 & 30 / change CUT TO CUS, line 21 / add S to street (streets. After...), line 27 / add after tubular) MODEL RAILROAD ( )model railroad. ), line 28 / correct the word scsle to read SCALE ) inch scale...), line 30 / remove the T from after enough, change the phrase beginning with I hope to I hope to build a model of the CUS for use as the Union Station on the SCL.,line 31 / again - remove the T from enough and change the lower case i word to the upper case I, line 32 / change to read - I am now at work using company e-mail. Do not try and contact via e-mail as it is code blocked for inbound e-mail. Thanks again / Larry

-- Larry Lee Childers (dp,lmacc @lmcc.com), December 24, 1999.

24 Dec 1999 Christmas Eve / Charleston Union Station - additional information. Using the SY tower as a beginning point (jointy built and operated by Southern Railway and Atlantic Coast Line until Southern Railway downgraded it line into Charleston), Both SR and ACL had double track main lines into the City of Charleston (now single track). These (passenger and fright) double track main lines came parallel to each other just West of Dorchester Avenue (SC 642) crossing. They followed the peninsula neck (between King Street extension and Meeting Street Road) to the edge of city to Magnolia Junction (much more info about traffic on these two lines - too much to place here). At Magnolia, SR tracks continued into the city between King and Meeting Streets - just as they have since the Best Friend days. Just past the tower(major junction between the SR and ACL tracks), the ACL tracks turned Northwards toward the Cooper, crossing over Meeting Street Road - before entering the city. Here at Magnolia Junction, SR passenger trains (with exceptions) moved over to the ACL main - along with the ACL trains - and continued toward Charleston Union Station (CUS). The ACL tracks crossed over the Seaboard Air Line main line (single track) prior to the station wye. The CUS was a stub end station with the shed covering the tracks and the building faced Columbus street. The CUS - built, owned and operated jointly by SR and ACL - was located on the NW corner of Columbus and Bay Streets. Street cars (later buses) provided transportation service to other parts of Charleston (street cars did not cross Bay street). There was no apparent order - pulling into or backing into - of how trains entered the station (I saw both ways - the length of the train was possibably the determining factor). The station's Wye - which projected out into the channel (could not be extended) - was to short to turn long passenger trains. Many times the trains were cut into two sections to turn the trains. Yes, the SAL did also use the CUS before building the Grove Street station. The SAL had a Wye, which begun after it crossed over the ACL main with its North leg running parallel to the station trackage. After the East leg joined the North leg (toward Bay Street), SAL originally had a connection to access CUS (removed after opening Grove Street Station) and then into the North side of Bay street - running in the roadway along side of the CUS - continuing eastward to the SAL freight station. During WW II, the SAL did off load at least one troop train along side of CUT, perhaps others as off loading long trains at the Grove Street station - blocked traffic on many street. After the main building of CUT burned, SR used their Line Street station and ACL their North station (which they wanted to do for years). ACL did continue to use the train shed for many years. They parked a coach under the shed and used it for an office (My high school girl friend's mother worked in that coach). my question to those of you out there, who have some good pictures of the CUS (before burning). Could I have a copy. I have a postcard copy and a picture from a SC history book. I also had a artist make a pen and ink sketch drawing of CUS. I own and operate the SOUTHERN COASTLINE RAILWAY SYSTEM, located in Mauldin, SC. It is a 1/4 inch HI-RAIL (yes, three rail with gargraves track - no tubular). MTH, WEAVER, WILLIAMS, K-LINE AND NOW ATLAS produce remarkable 1/4 inch scsle (just right for people like me) who likes to run long cars and long trains. All passenger trains in and out of Florida, those going to New Orleans and some to St. Louis must pass over the SCL. At some day in the future, Jesus permitting me to live long enought I hope to build the model the CUT for the Union Station on the SCL. This has been long enought, however i felt that some one else would like to know more about some of the past Charleston, SC area Rails. I now at work useing company e-mail / please do not contact me here. Fell free to contact me at Childers Priporties, PO Box 134, Mauldin, SC 29662-0134. Thank you for having this space and Merry Christmas.

-- Larry Lee Childers (DP-LMAC @ LMCO.COM), December 24, 1999.

One minor correction to David's answer. ACL passenger trains did not back the entire 7 miles from Ashley Jct. to the Charleston Union Station (CUS). ACL passenger trains as well as Southern passenger trains using ACL tracks between Southern Connection interlocking tower (one of 8 ACL towers in the Charleston area) and CUS traveled toward the station with the engine leading. Upon reaching the throat of the Columbus Street/CUS yard complex, passenger trains would back onto a wye track located on the upstream side of the Cooper River Bridge and extending (via a trestle) over the Town Creek shipping channel. The trains reversed direction and headed onto the north leg of the wye, passed through a spring switch back onto the mainline as if heading back toward Ashley Jct. Once the train cleared the spring switch, it would reverse direction and back into CUS under the control of the Vardell interlocking tower. The wye track was also used to turn freight locomotives laying over at Columbus Street Yard (no turntable). No e-mails please, I'm using someone else's computer. Thanks

-- Buddy Hill (FandR65@AOL.com), December 15, 1998.

Passenger trains used to back down to Union Station - passing under the Cooper River bridge - from the wye at SY Tower. I believe this continued until dieselization, then a purple/silver bus was used to ferry passengers downtown from the North Charleston station to Union Station downtown. The North Charleston station was/is located just to the north of the wye (a new station exists now built just a bit farther north of the old station). There was a yard of sorts and engine facility near the Union Station strung out beneath the Cooper River bridge covering the ground from the station heading towards the Ports Authority warehouses on the Cooper. The Coastline mainline did head south at the wye passing through Bennett Yards then across the Ashley River into West Ashley. It never did venture onto Johns Island but stayed on the mainland side of the Stono and Wadmalaw Rivers (including the Intracostal waterway). This bascule bridge was the only ACL bridge crossing the Cooper and Ashley Rivers and was much further upriver than the SAL bridge across the Ashley that was just north of the Citadel. This is probably much more info than you wanted.

-- David Wiggs (bigwiggs@bellsouth.net), December 03, 1998.

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