Drivers alerted that trains may return
by The Press and Standard | July 25, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 24, 2019 at 9:40 am
Late last week, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office issued an advisory suggesting that the former Hampton and Branchville will become active again.
The installation of yield signs at the various crossings was done to alert motorists using the crossings that they need to begin paying attention when approaching the train tracks.
“We as a community have been disregarding slowing down while passing over the railroad track for about a decade, since the railway was out of commission. Now that the railway has become active again, we remind residents to use caution and to slow down enough to ensure that the track is clear,” the sheriff’s office advisory saidd.
Alex Clark, director of marketing and communications for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, said, “Palmetto Railways has been working diligently to restore service on the former Hampton and Branchville Railroad, now known as the Salkehatchie Railroad.”
Shortly after Palmetto Railways took over ownership of the rail line, the state agency entered into a contract to use portion of the rail facilities for rail car storage.
That has been the only source of income for Palmetto Railways so far.
When the power plant at Canadys shut down, Hampton and Branchville ceased operations and the county began looking at the possibility of purchasing the rail line to keep it as an economic development tool.
The plan was to have Colleton County Intermodal Corporation, a development entity formed by county government, secure the $7.55 million purchase price through the issuing of bonds and then turned over the rail line to Palmetto Railways. Palmetto Railways would then use revenue generated by the rail line’s operation to pay off the principal and interest on the bonds.
“More recently, there has been activity along the line as a number of cross ties have been replaced, crossings repaired and new signage installed. Presently, the railroad right-of-way is being cleared of vegetation. All of this is being done to expand our capacity for rail car storage,” Clark explained.
Salkehatchie Railroad enters the county paralleling Barnes Road in the Moselle community. It then parallels Mount Nebo Road, passes through Ashton, crosses Confederate Highway, then crosses Bells Highway, Junction Road and Dry Branch Road. It then turns east and crosses Paschall Road, Carters Ford Road, and heads towards Williams.
The rail crosses Garris Avenue and Cutler Road as it enters Williams and then turns southeast towards Ruffin.
The rail parallels Double Churches Lane in Ruffin, crosses Lowcountry Highway and then parallels Ruffin Road until it turns northeast just before Wolfe Creek Road.
Then it crosses Logan Farm, Ospitale, Wolfe Creek (twice,) Mount Carmel, Risher Mountain, Weans, travels under the Interstate around the 65-mile marker, crosses Oakman Branch and the intersection of Maple Ridge and Red Bank, and finally crosses Augusta Highway before entering the former Canadys Station power plant property.