ON THE ROAD: Fairfield County museum preserves remnants of the past
WINNSBORO, SC (WOLO) — Trains have been running in the Palmetto State since 1830.
While many things have changed over the years, railroad enthusiasts have worked to keep a bit of the past alive.
“We come out here mainly because we love railroading history. We want to preserve this slice of Americana for people to enjoy,” said Chris Kovac, South Carolina Railroad Museum tour guide.
The museum features the historic Rockton and Rion Railroad which transported goods for almost two centuries.
“It was built as an extension of the Winnsboro Granite Company hauling granite from two different quarries,” Kovacs said. “It was vital in supplying granite to many different parts of the country.”
You can also go in some of the Southern Railway cars that were used for dining, sleeping and as a post office.
Founded in 1973, the museum has acquired more things thanks to the National Railroad Historical Society.
“Other pieces of equipment on display include a stock car, a bilevel commuter coach and steam locomotive Number 44, which used to work for the Hampton and Branchfield Railroad,” Kovacs said. “It was also featured in the 2012 NBC tv show Revolution.”
Trains may no longer be as popular a form of transportation as they were in the past, but that does not mean they’re not still important.
“There’s a lot of history behind them. They helped to shape this country,” Kovacs said. “Without railroads, a vital chapter in the American story would be lost. It’s important that we keep places like this alive, not just railroads, but any historical site in general. People have a chance to see where we’ve been and where we’re heading in the future.”
If you’d actually like to ride a train, the South Carolina Railroad Museum offers just that on Saturdays. There are also private charters and seasonal railway experiences throughout the year.
“There are a lot of static railroad museums in the state of South Carolina, but being the only one that offers train rides makes us a hidden gem in my opinion,” Kovacs concluded.