Columbia SC Railroad Project : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I just moved to Columbia SC and noticed first there's a lot of train activity; can anyone tell me what frequency and where these trains come from? I know NS has a line from the west and from the northwest into Columbia, then has a line to Charlotte (how frequent is this line used? It appears not very much) and a line zig-zagging to Charleston. CSX comes in from the northwest, southwest and leaves to the east it appears.

My main question: around 1985 it seems there was a HUGE railroad project here. I see where the railroads were ripped out all throughout downtown, and re-routed to a main 2-track lane near Huger Street. Then, it seems a new cutoff was made for CSX just past the I-126 bridge, for it to get back over to its line to Raleigh. This line was cut north of downtown, including the train station and it's run through Lincoln Street. Was this line elevated as the maps suggest through downtown? The other CSX line to Newberry, was the path under the elevated CSX line? Anyone who can give me a lot of background on this project, when exactly it was, what they did, and any webpages talking about it, I would greatly appreciate. Thank you-

-- Justin (, October 28, 2002


Mitch, you are correct. The CSX line running from Cayce south to Savannah is a portion of the "S" line. CSX calls it the Columbia Subdivision. Justin, another memory just popped up. When SCL shortened the route of the Palmland, they had to turn the train at Columbia. The nearest yard on the "S" line, Cayce, had no facilities to turn the train (no wye or loop). What they wound up doing was after the station stop at the Lincoln St. station, the train proceeded south over the viaduct to the Olympia Mill lead, backed through the mill track and gained the ACL portion of the lead. Still backing the train then continued to Green St. on ACL. There was a wye at Green St which branched west toward the river and then turned north to service the mill which is now the State Museum. The Palmland used this wye to turn, then reversed the route to return to the "S" line and tie up at Cayce. Steve Kamp

-- Steve Kamp (, February 15, 2004.

Recollections of a near-lifelong Columbia-area resident, here.

The old SAL Viaduct was a pretty impressive & imposing thing, a plate girder bridge on steel trestle nearly a mile long dominating the lower side of western Columbia. It is shown in picture books on Columbia history, where IIRC it was built just before 1900. Some photos showed high trusses on the street crossings originally, which got changed to plate girder later.

The viaduct was abandoned and demolished in 1994, as best I recall, as soon as the new ditch was ready for the line consolidations. A lot of people were peeved about it; the city downplayed its planned fate & rushed the demolition, IMHO, to prevent a preservation movement from possibly getting traction. The north end was just past the far southern end of the former SAL Lincoln Street Station (now a row of trendy restaurants) and the southern end was in Olympia neighborhood a block south of Whaley St. From there the line perched on top of an impressively high fill (mostly still there) that curves around toward the river and the Cayce yard. The line coming from Cayce has been diverted to the Huger street grade-level crossings. The bridge across the Congaree River leading to the Cayce yard is still in use.

Now, I have a question: do I understand correctly that the former SAL CSX line running south out of Cayce to Savannah (a.k.a. the "southbound" line, former Fla. Central & Peninsular before SAL) was in fact the Columbia-Savannah leg of the "S-Line"?

-- Mitch Bailey (, February 12, 2004.

Justin, some additional info for you. The area between Blossom St. and Gervais, Assembly and Huger was for many years considered a "blight " in Columbia. It was full of cotton compress warehouses, scrap metal yards, fuel oil distributors, book distributors,office and restaurant suppliers, the Adluh Flour elevator and the rail facilities. The area began to modernize or become trendy beginning with the construction of the Carolina Coliseum and large purchases of surrounding real estate by the University of S.C.

-- Steve Kamp (, October 29, 2002.

Justin, this was a major line consolidation and relocation that had its beginings in the sixties with the merger of ACL and SAL. The Sal line running from Hamlet through Columbia ran in a north/south direction in Lincoln Street from the Elmwood area under a street overpass(Lady St.) and across Gervais. Two blocks south of Gervais the Lincoln Street Viaduct began, carrying the SAL line over Green and Blossom streets, the Union Station west leads, the Southern line to Andrews Yard, and the ACL line to Sumter. The Viaduct then turned west, behind Olympia Mill to line up with the bridge over the Congaree river and the Cayce Yard lead. The Southern's line from Andrews Yard to Spartanburg crossed Assembly St. at grade near the Union Station, then under the Blossom St. overpass. It ran north parallel to the Viaduct but crossed Gervais at grade level continuing much as it does now in the "ditch" to the Broad River. The ACL from Sumter crossed the SR at grade at the north end of Andrews Yard, then came to Gervais St.parallel to the SR., but terminated in a small yard running from Green St. to Gervais. There was a white painted brick freight house fronting on Gervais with two stub tracks ending at a dock on the east side of the building. Truck access was on the west side. This terminal yard was also used by the Columbia,Newberry, and Laurens which started at Gervais St. and paralleled the SR. Both lines crossed Huger St. at grade at about the same spot that they now are in the "ditch". After crossing Huger St. the SR followed the Broad River and the CN&L crossed the Broad River on the long bridge which you can see beside I-126. The SAL station was on Lincoln between Lady and Gervais. The CN&L yard office was at Lady St. and in SCl years was a register station for trains entering /leaving CN&L.

Most of the changes took place between 1974 and 1983. In 1976 the American Freedom Train was displayed at the ACL Gervais St.yard. By 1985, allof the relocation was complete.

-- Steve Kamp (, October 29, 2002.

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