Today, South Carolina railroads are predominantly the realm of the successors to the above lines, Norfolk Southern (Southern) and CSX (ACL, SAL, and Clinchfield). While NS and CSX operate the majority of trackage in the Palmetto State there are a few shortlines in operation some of which include the Carolina Piedmont Railroad, Lancaster & Chester Railway, Carolina Southern Railroad, East Cooper & Berkeley Railroad, Greenville & Western Railway, Hampton & Branchville Railroad, Pee Dee River Railway, the historic Pickens Railway, Port Terminal Railroad of South Carolina, Port Utilities Commission of Charleston, and the South Carolina Central Railroad. South Carolina's rail network currently includes nearly 2,300 miles of rail although at its peak South Carolina was home to nearly 4,000 miles. Despite losing 1,600 miles of trakage since the 1920s the state still retains about 60% of its peak mileage, a fairly high number considering many states have lost between 45% and 50% of their infrastructure. For a more in-depth look at South Carolina railroads, in terms of its route mileage over the years please refer to the chart below.
While South Carolina railroads may no longer feature such stately passenger trains as the Orange Blossom Special, East Coast Champion or the Southerner Amtrak continues to operate a number of trains that predate its existence including the Southern's venerable Crescent, the ACL's Palmetto and the SAL's Silver Star andSilver Meteor. Lastly, South Carolina railroads also feature a few railroad museums and tourist railroads. So, if you are just interested in seeing museums or are just tired of live freight railroading the Palmetto State is home to three; the Lancaster and Chester Railway Company (which includes a museum at its main headquarters, the Railroad Historical Center and the South Carolina Railroad Museum (which also features excursion trains). Finally, while no railroad-related museums are found in Charleston a visit to the city is like stepping back into the 19th century and has preserved a number of railroad buildings. Having been there several times, it is well worth the visit if time allows! All in all, South Carolina railroads feature a diversity of operations depending on which side of the state you visit from the Port of Charleston to coal country around Spartanburg.
For more reading about South Carolina's railroad history you might be interested in the book The Charleston & Hamburg: A South Carolina Railroad And An American Legacy by author Tom Fetters. The book highlights one of the earliest railroads to ever operate in the country and how it came to shape South Carolina. Another noted book is Vital Rails: The Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina by author Dave Stone, which looks at another fabled South Carolina railroad and how it also helped to transform the state. If you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.