Blue Ridge Railroad

The Blue Ridge Railroad was chartered in 1852, sixteen years after John C. Calhoun first proposed building a railroad across the Blue Ridge mountains. Calhoun and his fellow South Carolinians saw that a direct “through” route from Charleston over the Appalachians to the Ohio Valley would funnel western trade to Charleston's docks and warehouses.

Plans called for a 195-mile line over and through the mountains (13 tunnels were to be dug) from Anderson, S.C. to Knoxville, Tenn. From Anderson, the route would pass under South Carolina's Stump House Mountain through a 5,863-foot tunnel. After crossing the Chattooga River near Sandy Ford, the rails would continue up Dicks Creek to Warwoman Valley, passing through the 2,421-foot Dicks Creek Tunnel and the 1,945-foot Warwoman Tunnel. From there, trains would proceed west to Clayton and north through Rabun Gap to the Little Tennessee River. After following the river through the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee the route would turn north to Knoxville.

Fom Hill & Swayze's Confederate States Rail-Road & Steam-Boat Guide. Online at Internet Archive here.

By 1859, only the section between Anderson and Walhalla had been put into operation. Substantial work had been done on the tunnels at Stump House Mountain, Dicks Creek, and Warwoman Creek, and many of the embankments and culverts had been completed, but much remained to be done when funding ran out. Soon afterwards South Carolina seceded from the Union, and the Civil War halted further progress.

Despite attempts after the war to get construction restarted, including one effort by the Black Diamond Railroad, the tracks never extended beyond Walhalla.

Southern Railway acquired the 34 miles of completed line in 1894, and reorganized it in 1901 as the Blue Ridge Railway. It was later consolidated into Southern.


Maps and Timetables:

1850s map at Library of Congress

1860 map (65K)

1892 map (147K)

1908 map (45K)

1906 timetable (35K)

Suggested Reading:

Betty L. Plisco. The Rocky Road to Nowhere; A History of the Blue Ridge Railroad in South Carolina. Salem, SC: Blue Granite Books, 2002.

1853-1860 Annual Reports of the Blue Ridge Rail Road. Online at HathiTrust Digital Library here.

Blue Ridge Railway timetable

1870 timetable Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey.

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