Pickens Railway

Last updated
Pickens Railway
Reporting mark PICK, PKHP
Locale Upstate South Carolina
Dates of operation 1898
Predecessor Norfolk Southern (PKHP)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Length 37 miles (60 km)
Headquarters Cornelia, Georgia

Pickens Railway( reporting mark s PICK, PKHP) is a shortline railroad that has operated on two separate divisions in the Upstate Region of South Carolina:

Reporting mark alphabetic code ID used on the North American railroad network

A reporting mark is an alphabetic code of two to four letters used to identify owners or lessees of rolling stock and other equipment used on certain railroad networks.

A shortline railroad is a small or mid-sized railroad company that operates over a relatively short distance relative to larger, national railroad networks. The term is used primarily in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., railroads are categorized by operating revenue, and most shortline railroads fall into the Class III or Class II categorization defined by the Surface Transportation Board. Shortlines generally exist for one of three reasons: to link two industries requiring rail freight together ; to interchange revenue traffic with other, usually larger, railroads; or to operate a tourist passenger train service. Often, short lines exist for all three of these reasons.

South Carolina State of the United States of America

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.


Easley, South Carolina City in South Carolina, United States

Easley is a city in Pickens County in the State of South Carolina. It is a principal city of the Greenville–Mauldin–Easley Metropolitan Statistical Area. Most of the city lies in Pickens County, with only a very small portion of the city in Anderson County.

Pickens, South Carolina City in South Carolina, United States

Pickens, formerly called Pickens Courthouse, is a city in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 3,126 at the 2010 census. Pickens changed its classification from a town to a city in 1998, but it was not reported to the Census Bureau until 2001. It is the county seat of Pickens County. It was named after Andrew Pickens (1739–1817), an American revolutionary soldier and US Congressman for South Carolina.

Anderson, South Carolina City in South Carolina, United States

Anderson is a city in and the county seat of Anderson County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 26,686 at the 2010 census, and the city was the center of an urbanized area of 75,702. It is one of the principal cities in the Greenville-Anderson--Mauldin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 824,112 at the 2010 census. It is further included in the larger Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, South Carolina Combined Statistical Area, with a total population of 1,266,995, at the 2010 census. Anderson is just off Interstate 85 and is 120 miles (190 km) from Atlanta and 140 miles (230 km) from Charlotte.

Connections are made with the Norfolk Southern at Easley and Anderson, and with the Greenville and Western Railway at Belton. Rail was 85-100 pounds on the Easley-Pickens segment and 85 pounds on the Anderson-Honea Path segment.

The Greenville and Western Railway is a Class III railroad that operates 12.74 miles (20.50 km) from a point south of Belton to Pelzer, South Carolina. Connections are made with Pickens Railway at Belton and CSX at Pelzer. The railroad is a subsidiary of Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation.

Traffic included transportation equipment on the original Pickens line (in the form of locomotive remanufacture CLCX, Inc. located in Pickens until 2013), while the Anderson-Belton handles kaolin, limestone, synthetic rubber, rubber processing oil, plastics, silica, scrap metal, paper, scrap paper, bird feed ingredients, farm supplies, and electrical equipment.

Limestone Sedimentary rocks made of calcium carbonate

Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock that is often composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). A closely related rock is dolomite, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolomite was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolomites or magnesium-rich limestones.

Pickens Railroad History

The Easley-Pickens line was chartered on December 24, 1890, by the South Carolina General Assembly after two failed attempts to build a railroad through Pickens from Easley. The line connected with the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad (later the Southern Railway) and was completed in 1898.

On the railroad's first revenue run, the Pickens Railroad suffered a serious derailment that was caused by a local group of boys that had placed spikes on the rails, in their words, "to see what would happen." [1] No one was seriously injured, but caused the fledgling company a serious financial setback, which operated in the red until 1905.

In its early years, it was nicknamed the "Pickens Doodle" because the train would run backwards to Easley and forward to Pickens, which "looked like a doodlebug," according to area residents. The Pickens Railroad, at the time did not have turning facilities until the line built two wye sections of track at each end of the line years later.

The Southern Railway briefly acquired control of the Pickens around 1910, however, it was reverted to local interests several years later.

In the 1920s, Singer Manufacturing located a sewing machine cabinet plant on the Pickens Railroad. The plant eventually became the railroad's biggest customer and the line was purchased outright in 1939 by Singer. In 1927, the Appalachian Lumber Company built a network of logging lines in the upper portion of Pickens County. By 1939, it too was also acquired by Singer and organized under the Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company. Passenger service was discontinued in 1928 as better roads were built in the region.

In 1959, The Singer Company consolidated its sawmill and cabinet operations with the woodworking operations from Arkansas and the Craftsman power tools from New Jersey to the Pickens location. In 1963, Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company announced that the Pickens Railroad was for sale. James F. Jones of North Carolina purchased the line for approximately $50,000. [1] Jones built a new enginehouse and established a carshop for rebuilding and renovating railroad cars. Jones sold the Pickens in 1973 to Philadelphia-based National Railway Utilization Company (NRUC), which expanded the carshop to build new freight cars.

In the early 1990s NRUC became Emergent Group and sold the railroad to CLC-Chattahoochee Locomotive Corp., which renamed the railroad Pickens Railway Company, according to the Federal Register, 1 May 1996. On April 2, 2013, Pickens Railway pulled the last train to Easley because of lack of business. The final run was pulled by Pickens #9502 and CLCX #12132. The last train ended an era of over 100 years of running to Easley. [2]

Pickens Expands

In 1991, Norfolk Southern Railway leased the Belton-Honea Path line to the Pickens under the "Thoroughbred Shortline Program." This line was built in the 1840s by the Greenville & Columbia, eventually becoming part of the Southern.

in 1994, the Pickens expanded further by leasing the Belton-Anderson line from Norfolk Southern. This line was built in the 1840s as part of the Blue Ridge Railway. Included was former Anderson trackage that had belonged to CSX previously owned by the Piedmont & Northern and Charleston & Western Carolina.

Pickens locomotive history

The first Pickens locomotive was a secondhand 4-4-0 that was damaged in a derailment on its first trip. It was replaced in 1909 with a new 2-6-2 from Baldwin Locomotive Works and was numbered 1.

The line dieselized in 1947 with a Baldwin VO-660 (built as Singer Manufacturing #2), It was numbered 2 and was later named T. Grady Welborn. The 2-6-2 steam engine was sidelined until 1955 when it was sold for scrap. Number 2 is still on the property on the original Pickens trackage but has been out of service for some time as a switcher for CLCX, Inc. as of 2009.

In 1963, after the line was acquired by James F. Jones, the Pickens acquired an EMC SW locomotive. It was built for the Union Terminal Railroad Of St. Joseph as their #5, it later served as Missouri Pacific Railroad #6005 before it became Pickens #3. It was sold to Duke Power in the mid-1970s, which used it to haul construction materials for the building of the Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant near Gaffney, South Carolina. When the plant was sidelined in the early 80s, the unit, as well as the unfinished power plant, was sold to a movie company before being acquired by the Thermal Belt Railway in 1989, becoming their #1.

In the early 1970s a Baldwin S-8 was purchased by Pickens. It was built as Youngstown Sheet and Tube #701 in 1951. It became Pickens #5 (which named it Allan M. Baum) and was used as a backup locomotive. Pickens sold off #5 to SMS Rail Service in 2001, becoming their #102.

When the Pickens expanded in the early 1990s, it acquired a pair of ALCO S1s numbered 6 and 7. These were repowered with Caterpillar prime movers. Number 6 remained on the property, stored inoperable, until 2010 when it was scrapped onsite.

In 2000, the Pickens acquired a fleet of former CSX GE U18Bs numbered 9500-9508. One (9501) is used for parts.

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  1. 1 2 "Pickens Railroad Started 1898". The Pickens Sentinel. September 30, 1968. p. 2.
  2. Ardinger, Ken (September–October 1996). "Locomotive Notes II". Diesel Era. Montoursville, Pennsylvania. 7 (5): 61.