The Winnsboro Railroad | Project Discovery Revisited


Without railroads, South Carolina would not have been developed. Many towns around Columbia and Florence were established because of train access. Coat trains, which consist of 100 cars, can carry an amount equal to 300 semitrailers.

Winnsboro, South Carolina, is the home of the South Carolina Railroad Museum. The Rockton-Rion Train Company is the line featured at the museum. Originally, the trains were a static display in Charleston, but the museum has laid three and a half miles of track on which the train now runs. Operated to move blue granite, the Rockton-Rion was the last company to use steam.

Visitors to the museum, which is operated by volunteers and encourages membership, can tour the inside of the cars. The displays include a 100-ton locomotive, built by the military in 1953 to carry supplies. The caboose is a favorite among train lovers. Its purpose was to sleep and house offices for the workers aboard the train. The Northport Executive Car was fully equipped with a bath, a kitchen, and sleeping quarters. A chef and a secretary traveled with dignitaries who rode in the Executive Car. The U.S. mail was part of the Seaboard Coastline. Protected by armed officers, people working in the mail car sorted the mail, dropped it off, and picked it up. Also on display at the museum are a baggage car and a passenger car. One of the most historic cars on display was one used to haul gravel.

Knuckles, which were invented over 100 years ago, are 50-pound pieces of iron used to join train cars together. Tie plates hold the track to the ground with machine-driven spikes. Hickeys, cubed pieces of blue granite, were used by train workers to build structures like fences.

Engineers run the locomotive. Sensors alert them if anything is wrong with the train. Conductors are in charge of everything on board, such as ensuring safety, blowing the whistle at crossings, and stopping and starting the train.

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