Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Reflections by Sammy Way: Sumter was once a major railroad center

By SAMMY WAY
Archivist and historian
Posted 1/26/20

Reflections remembers when Sumter was considered to be a major railroad center in the South. Trains brought people and commercial trade to this emerging community. In order to house the influx of "drummers" and those arriving seeking economic …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Reflections by Sammy Way: Sumter was once a major railroad center

Posted

Reflections remembers when Sumter was considered to be a major railroad center in the South. Trains brought people and commercial trade to this emerging community. In order to house the influx of "drummers" and those arriving seeking economic opportunity, Sumter experienced a boom in the construction of warehouses and hotels near the train depot. The article, to be presented in two parts, and photos used were taken from The Sumter Item archives and reprinted with a modicum of editing.

The following article appeared in The Sumter Daily Item on April 27, 1923.

"The biggest things in favor of Sumter and of Sumter County as ideal locations for general manufacturing, wholesale and retail businesses, trucking, dairying, livestock, fruit production and many other branches of business and farming were the exceptional railroad facilities of the county seat, together with the fact that Sumter County, with the exception of a comparatively small portion in the southeastern portion of the county, was blessed with excellent railway facilities.

"Sumter County had more miles of railways than any other county in South Carolina. Sumter ties Columbia, the capital of the state, with the greatest number of railroad lines, nine in number, that projected out toward the nine points of the compass and were controlled by four separate railway systems, as follows:

"The great Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company ran six very important main arteries of transportation into Sumter, going east, west, north and south; the Northwestern Railway Company has one line; the Southern Railway and the Seaboard Air Line Railway have one line each.

"These arteries of passenger and freight traffic gave Sumter exceptional advantages, convenient and quick schedules, and because of its strategic location, midway between Key West and New York City, had the advantage of about 12 hours quicker schedules over Georgia and beat Florida trains about 24 hours to the leading markets of the northern and eastern cities.

"This resulted in a big saving in freight rates for all commodities shipped in or out and was an advantage for general agricultural, trucking, dairying, livestock and manufacturing purposes as well as working financially to the advantage of wholesale and retail business."

Sumter was aptly named "The Railway Center of South Carolina." These nine railway lines maintained a splendid trade, drawing a schedule involving numerous freight and passenger trains daily.