Pickens Railroad

Also known as: Pickens Railway Compnay
415 E Cedar Rock St, Pickens, SC 29671

Historic South Carolina shortline now abandoned


Pickens Railway

Pickens Railroad Baldwin VO-660 and two box cars sit at the old shop in it's namesake town while a PICK GE U18B and former South Carolina Central GP10 sit in the background. The business office to the railroad is to the right of the frame.

Photo taken by Joseph Hinson

View this photo on Flickr


1890 -- The South Carolina General Assembly charters a rail line from Pickens from Easley after two failed attempts previously. The line will connect with the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad, which will later become the Southern Railway.

1898 -- The Pickens Railroad is completed. On the railroad's first revenue run, the line suffers a serious derailment caused by a local group of boys who place spikes on the rails "to see what would happen." No one is seriously injured, but it causes the fledgling company a serious financial setback. The railroad operates in the red until 1905. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

It earns the nickname the "Pickens Doodle" because the train runs "backwards" to Easley and forward to Pickens which looks "like a doodlebug" to area residents. The railroad did not have the ability to turn their rolling stock on a wye or a turntable during its early years.

1909 -- Pickens replaces its sole locomotive, a second hand Danforth 0-4-0 (ex-Richmond, York River & Chesapeake #5), which had been damaged in the derailment. They purchase a new Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-0. It is given the number 1.

1910 -- Southern Railway briefly acquires control of the Pickens. However, ownership reverts back to local interests in a few years.

1920s -- Singer Manufacturing builds a sewing machine cabinet plant on the Pickens Railroad. The plant eventually becomes the railroad's biggest customer.

1927 -- The Appalachian Lumber Company builds a network of logging lines in the upper portion of Pickens County.

1928 -- Passenger service ends on the Pickens Railroad as the roads in the county begin to draw customers from the railroad.

1939 -- Singer Manufacturing purchases the Pickens outright. Singer also buys the Appalachian Lumber Company and reorganizes it as the Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company.

1947 -- The Pickens goes diesel when a Baldwin VO-660 (built as Singer Manufacturing #2) is bought.

1955 -- Having sat for many years unused, the Baldwin 2-6-0 #1 is sold for scrap.

1959 -- The Singer Company consolidates itís sawmill and cabinet operations with the woodworking operations from Arkansas and the Craftsman power tools from New Jersey to the Pickens location.

1963 -- Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company sells the Pickens Railroad to James F. Jones of North Carolina for approximately $50,000. Jones builds a new engine house and establishes a carhop for rebuilding and renovating railroad cars.

1973 -- Jones sells the Pickens to a Philadelphia-based company, National Railway Utilization Company. They then expand the carhop to build new freight cars.

1990 -- NRUC becomes Emergent Group and sells the railroad to Chattahoochee Locomotive Corp. CLC renames the railroad Pickens Railway Company.

1991 -- The Pickens expands for the first time in its history and does so outside of Pickens County when it leases a segment of track from Belton to Honea Path, SC from Norfolk Southern.

1994 -- The Pickens expands again by leasing a line from Belton to downtown Anderson from Norfolk Southern. This line was built in the 1840s as part of the Blue Ridge Railway. It also includes former Anderson trackage that had owned by the Piedmont & Northern and Charleston & Western Carolina.

2012 -- While the company has expanded onto a separate rail line in another county, the original shortline railroad is floundering. The last customer is Chattahoochee Locomotive which has been rebuilding old locomotives into new environmentally friendly gen sets. The decision has been made to build a new shop in Belton. Meanwhile, the county sends out a survey to citizens asking them if they would like to see the old line turned into a bike trail.

Sept. 7, 2012 -- the railroad files to abandon the entire line with the Surface Transportation Board.

April 2, 2013 -- The last run is made from Pickens to Easley.

May, 2013 -- Rails are pulled up from the interchange with Norfolk Southern in Easley. The Pickens Baldwin VO-660 #2 is left trapped on static display in Pickens. It is said to be operational.

Update Log 

  • June 5, 2013: Photo imported by Joseph Hinson
  • June 4, 2013: Added by Joseph Hinson