Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 4 Coopersville to Gaffney

Gaffney RR vintage

I had been tracking down the Swamp Rabbit Railroad, the third to bear that name in South Carolina. This one ran from Blacksburg to Gaffney through Cherokee Falls. Now I was out trying to find physical evidence of the old railroad. I had explored from Blacksburg to Cherokee Falls along a route that briefly ran as a scenic railroad in the 1970s. Now it was time to cross the Broad River and see what I could find on the section from Coopersville to Gaffney. Continue reading “Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 4 Coopersville to Gaffney”

Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 3 Blacksburg to Cherokee Falls

Railroad at Blacksburg, SC

I had been tracking down the history of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad that ran from Blacksburg to Gaffney by way of Cherokee Falls. So far I’d discovered the history of the railroad and its relatively short commercial life, and I had discovered how the railroad briefly found new life as a scenic railroad in the 1970s. It was time to get out into the field and do some ground-truthing. I wanted to see if there were any remnants of the old line. Continue reading “Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 3 Blacksburg to Cherokee Falls”

Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 2, J. V. Cannon and the Scenic Railway

Cherokee County Swamp Rabbit Railroad-5

As it turns out the Swamp Rabbit that ran on the Greenville and Northern track, and the Swamp Rabbit that ran through Cherokee County have histories that have become entwined. I actually found this link right under my own nose on this very website. William Cannon left a comment on my post about “What Happened to the Swamp Rabbit?” in which he mentioned his father, J. V. Cannon. Jean Vaughan Cannon turned out to be a fascinating individual with what can only be described as an obsession with trains. His obsession gave new life to both the Greenville Swamp Rabbit and the Cherokee Swamp Rabbit. Continue reading “Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 2, J. V. Cannon and the Scenic Railway”

Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 1, the History

Swamp Rabbit Railroad Switch 2

That’s right, there’s not one, not two, but three railroads in South Carolina that bore the name “The Swamp Rabbit.” There’s the one that follows former Greenville and Northern Railroad, now the very popular Swamp Rabbit Trail. There’s the one in the lower part of the state that crosses Barnwell, Aiken, and Lexington Counties. I explored and wrote about that one last week. Then, there is the Swamp Rabbit that crosses part of Cherokee County from Blacksburg through Cherokee Falls and then on to Gaffney. I explored this third Swamp Rabbit today, and discovered that it has some unexpected ties to our own Swamp Rabbit Railroad here in Greenville. Continue reading “Chasing a THIRD Swamp Rabbit – Part 1, the History”

Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 4, Lost in Lexington

Samaria Store

I was on a quest to find traces of the old Swamp Rabbit Railroad. This isn’t the one that runs through Northern Greenville with which most are familiar, but was a train that ran across Barnwell, Aiken, and Lexington Counties. So far I already traveled the original route from Blackville to Sievern. Now I was going to deeper into the swamps of the Edisto, and losing my way in the process. Continue reading “Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 4, Lost in Lexington”

Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 3, Sievern and Edisto Academy

Swamp Rabbit RR

I was on a quest to find traces of the “other” Swamp Rabbit Railroad, a passenger service on the Blackville, Alston & Newberry (BA&N) line that ran from Blackville in Barnwell County to Seivern in Lexington County. So far the task had been easy. There were clear tracks and right-of-ways between and through the towns of Blackville, Springfield, Salley, Perry, and Wagener. The last four towns came into existence because of the BA&N, and these towns celebrated their railroad heritage. The Swamp Rabbit was about to get more elusive, though, as its route traversed the environment for which it was named – the swamps of the Edisto River. Continue reading “Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 3, Sievern and Edisto Academy”

Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 2, From Salley to Wagener

Salley Cargo Depot

I had been on an excursion to track down the Swamp Rabbit Railroad – not the well-known one in Greenville County, but a lesser-known railroad that ran from Blackville in Barnwell County to the ghost town of Sievern in Lexington County. I was following a map developed by Mitch Bailey of Lexington, with data points form the map loaded into my GPS. So far I’d traced the railroad from Blackville to Springfield, but I still had a ways to go. Continue reading “Chasing the Swamp Rabbit – Part 2, From Salley to Wagener”

Chasing the Swamp Rabbit (No, Not That One)

Springfield Caboose

When folks in this area hear the phrase “Swamp Rabbit Railroad”, they probably think of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which has garnered so many accolades. Use of the name has been growing as the moniker “Swamp Rabbit” has been taken by many new businesses, usually those located along the trail on the old railway. The trail has gotten so popular that even the local pro hockey team changed their name from Road Warriors to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

As most Greenvillians know, the trail was named for the former Greenville and Northern Railroad, nicknamed the Swamp Rabbit because its route took it through the wetlands of the upper Reedy River. However, the lowly sylvilagus aquaticus lent its name to not one, but two railroads in South Carolina. The former Blackville, Alston, and Newberry line was also known as the Swamp Rabbit, and ran through the wetlands of the North Edisto River from Blackville in Barnwell County to the ghost town of Seivern in Lexington County. The first Sunday in May I set out to see what I could find of this other Swamp Rabbit Railroad. Continue reading “Chasing the Swamp Rabbit (No, Not That One)”

The Athens of Greenville

TR Sign

Usually, when someone utters the phrase, “The Athens of ….” whatever region, they mean that the region is a center of enlightenment and learning. While this particular saga does end with a school, the story begins with civic jealousy.

Greenville County did, in fact, have its own town named Athens for a short while. I first heard about the town from Dot Bishop at the Travelers Rest History Museum. I made a note to add it to my list of ghost towns until I could do a bit more research on it, and see if I could find any remnants of the old town. That time has finally come, and here’s what I found… Continue reading “The Athens of Greenville”

The Lost Counties of South Carolina

1895 Map of South Carolina
1895 Map of South Carolina

I grew up in the southwestern part of Enoree County, South Carolina…

At least, that’s how my biography might have started, if the people of Woodruff had their way back in 1913. Enoree County would have been created from parts of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Laurens Counties, with the county seat in the town of Woodruff. I came across a reference to this mythical county while doing research on another topic on the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site.

Woodruff Wants to Be County Seat

I haven’t been able to relocate the original article (should have bookmarked it right then and there) but it gave more specific boundaries for the new county. At first I thought it might be cool to find these boundaries in Google Earth and see which areas would be encompassed by the new county. As I dug deeper, I found that this wasn’t an isolated proposal, and was part of a much larger story, leading me to the discovery of “new county fever” that broke out around the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading “The Lost Counties of South Carolina”

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