The industrial operations of specific plants also interest photographer Joe Hinson. Much of it in the Carolinas happens behind fenced off property, but the CMC Steel Mill in Cayce takes place just below a public bridge on a busy road. The Alco is a repowered S1, formerly a Laurinburg & Southern motor.
Modern short lines of the South
by Joe Hinson/Photos by the author
Welcome to Photo Line! Joe Hinson is a photographer from Columbia, South Carolina. He first got into photography with the realization that taking pictures would be a great way to document all of the trains he saw close to home. Joe later went to school to become an ENG (electronic news gathering) photographer for TV news. "My favorite story to tell is how I convinced my boss at a small television station in South Carolina to send me up to shoot a story on the old Lancaster & Chester 2-8-0 #40 on the New Hope & Ivyland in Pennsylvania!" You can see more of Joe's work on his Flickr site.
Changing times on the South Carolina Central
The South Carolina Central has changed a lot over the years. Spun of from various CSX lines in 1987, they were owned by RailTex when I caught up with them in the late 90s and wore a classy blue and white paint scheme.
Orange comes to the South Carolina Central
At the end of 2012, South Carolina Central was bought out by Genesee & Wyoming Industries and a flood of orange soon followed. Most of their active roster was soon painted in the G&W corporate scheme including this ex-FEC GP38-2 passing through Florence, SC as well as the ex-ATSF #2027, which was also given a new number.
Seaboard power pulls for Pee Dee River
The Pee Dee River Railway operates four ex-Seaboard GP16s in their own distinctive orange and white livery. This South Carolina short line was started by the Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad to operate the 10 mile branch between McColl and Bennettsville following its abandonment by CSX in 1987.
Just keep adding power on the L&C
The Lancaster & Chester is my hometown railroad. I grew up watching the railroad switch out the Springs Mills Plant in Lancaster, South Carolina, from my grandmother's kitchen window as a small child. Springs also owned the railroad for more than a hundred and ten years, but with no textile mills in the area (all having moved overseas) eventually they sold railroad. In the early 2000s, business began growing on the small railroad even as loads to and from the Springs plants came to a halt. Five, six or seven switcher lash-ups were common and while it was cool to see for the railfan, it probably didn't make a lot of sense from a railroading perspective.
Heavier power for an expanding Springmaid Line
With the expansion of South Carolina's Lancaster & Chester Railroad, both in terms of route miles as well as heavier industry, the railroad began retiring their end cab switchers and replacing them with Geeps. They leased larger power from LLPX and GMTX prior to being acquired by the Gulf & Ohio in 2010. As of July 2013, they have returned all lease power.
Can't miss the Pickens Railway
When the nearly hundred-year-old Pickens Railway expanded in the 1990s, they were on the hunt for new locomotives. The Pickens liked the orange work train scheme these ex-CSX U18Bs were in when they purchased them that they used the same color when it came to repaint them.
Rio Grande heritage power in Georgia
Some short line railroads operate almost as museums of vintage equipment. In the case of the Hartwell Railroad, seen here passing the former Southern Railway depot in Lavonia, Georgia, they operate an old Rio Grande GP35 still in her original colors. The Hartwell Railroad dates back to 1879, and was briefly operated by the Southern Railway between 1902 and 1924 when it was sold to local businessmen. They have since leased the 48-mile Norfolk Southern line between Toccoa and Elberton, and the entire system is operated by the Great Walton Railroad.
Fun times on the South Carolina Central
It's amazing how an ordinary day of railfanning can quickly turn into something else... The South Carolina Central started up in 1987 to operate 62 miles of former Seaboard branch lines in the northeast part of the state. The line was part of the RailTex family until it was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000. In 2012, the SCC became part of the Genesee & Wyoming family of short lines.
Norfolk Southern branch line railroading
Class 1 branch lines fascinate me, too, even as the big railroads seem to be eager to get rid of all of them that they can. Such is the case with the Blacksburg to Kings Creek line on Norfolk Southern in South Carolina. They shortlined this operation a few years ago, but when they ran it, railfans liked to catch them in operation. A weight restriction on the segment north of Blacksburg neccesitated the need for a spacer car between the two engines. MU cables ran through the old Central of Georgia 40 foot box car.
Diamonds and steel on the old ACL
In Columbia, South Carolina, CSX still operates an Atlantic Coast Line-era industrial park near Williams-Brice Stadium. Most of the industry is gone, but this steel mill still gets coil cars twice a week. In this shot, the siding crosses from right to left in front of the building, then has to cross the same rail at a diamond to get inside the plant.