The Blue Ridge Railroad

Built in the 19th century, the Blue Ridge Railroad has connected various small upstate cities for over a century.

Throughout the 19th century, South Carolina had one of the most extensive railroad systems in the world. For example, the Charleston-Hamburg line was the longest railroad in the world at one point; it was 136 miles at its completion in 1833.
South Carolina had thousands of more miles of rail besides that one, one of them being the Blue Ridge Railroad, located right here in the upstate.
First chartered in 1852, the Blue Ridge Railroad was a joint project between South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. The initial plans for the road were for it to run through upstate South Carolina, through the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, and into Louisville, Kentucky. [1] It was supposed to finally connect either side of the mountain range. The section of the road in South Carolina runs straight through the upstate, stopping in Greenville. Its more notable stops are in Anderson, Seneca, and Walhalla. These communities took up the responsibilities that only Charleston or Columbia could fare. The Blue Ridge Railroad brought grand economic change to these once small commercial towns.
Railroad funding was increasingly popular for the state government throughout the 19th century; funding for this small track was no exception. The Blue Ridge Railroad became a hot topic on the floor of the South Carolina House of Representatives in the 1950s. Its desired completion had been compared to the Egyptian pyramids, laws were bent to ensure proper economic support, and state funding had even been an entitlement according to one representative. The cost of the Blue Ridge Railroad was small compared with its importance.[2] It brought about citizen cooperation and understanding, as everyone in the bypassing towns knew that it would bring great economic prosperity to their communities. It was seen as a beacon of development throughout upstate South Carolina. In 1859, the citizens of Oconee County held an event to commemorate the construction of the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel [3]. It attracted thousands of people then and is still a popular tourist site today.
When the Civil War broke out across the country, all train construction ceased. Citizens were fighting in the fields instead of placing track, and the glory of the railroad came to a halt. Unfortunately, the construction never picked back up after the war had ended. The road’s final destination ended up being in Walhalla, instead of across the mountainside. Part of the track can still be seen when driving down Highway 76 into Anderson.