Blue Ridge Railroad

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The Blue Ridge Railroad was the first rail line to reach the Pendleton District and Fort Hill area, in September 1860. Issuing stock on July 1, 1859, the Blue Ridge Railroad Company constructed a 44.2 mile line between Anderson and West Union, South Carolina via Pendleton, whose town fathers lobbied hard for the line to be routed through their community, and the future site of Seneca. Its closest stop to Fort Hill was Cherry's Crossing, where the line crossed the Seneca River. Construction began at Belton in 1851. Plans to build a line through the Rabun Gap in Georgia to connect westward at Knoxville, Tennessee were stymied by the construction of several tunnels including the never-completed one-mile Stumphouse Tunnel above Walhalla in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Money for the project ran short, and the onset of the War Between the States in April 1861 halted construction which was never resumed. A final extension from West Union to Walhalla at the urging of the Town Council and local citizens saw the first train arrive November 14, 1877, but no more track would ever be laid along the alignment up Stumphouse Mountain.

The line never ran service beyond Walhalla, and in the late 1990s, with the closing of the last textile plant using rail service in Walhalla, it was truncated again at West Union.

In the 1800s, this was the most direct route between Columbia and Clemson. Sports team regularly rode out from Cherry's Crossing.

On August 10, 1871, Thomas Green Clemson and Anna Maria Calhoun Clemsons' son, Capt. John Calhoun Clemson (b. July 17, 1841), was killed in a train wreck between a passenger train and a lumber or freight train on the Blue Ridge Railroad near the future Seneca, South Carolina. He was 30 and unmarried.

On Friday night, June 16, 1876, a train bound from Belton to Anderson Court House, broke through the trestle over Broadway Creek, killing all five on board, including Wilson, the engineer, and Sullivan, the mail agent. ("The Pickens Sentinel, Pickens Court House, South Carolina, 1872-1893, Historical and Genealogical Abstracts, Volume 1, compiled by Peggy Burton Rich and Marion Ard Whitehurst, Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 1994, ISBN 1-55613-985-3, page 29.)

In 1884 a wood depot was erected at West Union, South Carolina to accommodate travelers coming to stay in the Blue Ridge foothills and at the Mineral Springs Hotel in that community.

A timetable printed in an ad in The Tiger, effective July 28, 1910, showed eastbound service at Cherry's as Passenger No. 12 at 7:44 a.m., and Passenger No. 10 at 4:04 p.m., both operating daily, and Mixed Train (freight and passenger cars) No. 8 at 11:56 a.m., daily except Sunday. Westbound service was Passenger No. 9 at 12:36 a.m., Passenger No. 11 at 6:44 p.m., both daily, and Mixed No. 7 at 8:11 a.m., daily except Saturday.

The line would pass through several corporate identities, including a reorganized Blue Ridge RailWAY, and later as the South Carolina branch (not contiguous) of the Carolina and Northwestern Railway, eventually being absorbed into the Southern Railway System, known as the Z-line, and thence into the Norfolk Southern Company in 1982. It remained the only rail route through the Clemson area until the Atlanta & Richmond Air Line Railway constructed a line through the community of Calhoun opening in 1873, north of the Fort Hill plantation. The spot where the two rail lines crossed became Seneca, South Carolina.

We'll call this the Clemson Wiki project's 1,130th article, although it is about six items earlier.