City Directories and History: (Branchville Depot) The depot at Branchville is the site of the oldest railroad junction in the United States. The original line coming from Charleston and extending to Hamburg was completed in 1832. At the time, it was the longest line in America, as well as being almost twice as long as any in America. In 1840, a line was extended to Orangeburg establishing Branchville as the first junction in the country. The depot, built in 1877, reflects the important role the railroad played in the development of commerce and transportation in South Carolina during the nineteenth century. The establishment of the railroad provided an efficient
route for inland towns to send their cotton and farm products to the coast. The depot was also the site of a speech given by President-elect William Howard Taft in 1909. Several rooms in the main structure of the one-story building have been restored to reflect the 1870s and 1880s. The building is constructed of brick with a stucco finish. The hipped roof is covered with painted tin. Listed in the National Register April 23, 1973. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
View the complete text of the nomination form for this National Register property.
“The railroad has been responsible for a number of place names in Orangeburg County. In 1883 the State Board of Agriculture observed: “The railroads created towns, and the country town became at once a new and important element in the development of the interior of the State. These towns were the centres of trade.” The South Carolina Rail Road — now part of the Southern Railway System — was built from Charleston to Hamburg, near Augusta. It was opened to Branchville in Orangeburg County on November 7, 1832, by the South Carolina Rail Road and Canal Company. In May, 1834, it was reported to the stockholders of the company that “there were built at nearly equal intervals sixteen turnouts of an average length of six hundred and fifty feet. At each of these there was established pumps and wood sheds.”
One of these sidings was in Orangeburg County just below Branchville. It was called the Fifty- eight Mile Turnout or 58 Mile Turnout. It was also referred to as the Fifty-eight Mile Pump. This full name appears on the railroad maps of 1888, but by 1908, it had been shortened to Fifty- eight (or 58). The name had its origin in the fact that the turnout was fifty-eight miles from the starting point of the railroad at Charleston.
The branch line of the railroad from Branchville to Columbia was not completed until almost exactly ten years after the opening of the line to Branchville. It was a long struggle and there was a great celebration to welcome the first train to arrive in Columbia from Charleston on June 28, 1842. The branch line had been completed as far as Orangeburg in August of 1840. Four miles up the branch line was the Sixty-six Mile Turnout. Just as the Fifty-Eight Mile Turnout was shortened to Fifty-Eight, this siding was shortened to Sixty-Six (or 66). Being four miles further from Charleston than Branchville’s sixty-two, it was dubbed Sixty-Six.
(Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
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