South Carolina Railroads - Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Laurens, SC

Newberry, SC
* 1924 - Merged into the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
+ 1896 - Merged with the Laurens Railroad. Retained line name.
+ 1885 - Originated as the Newberry & Laurens Rail Road. 12/24/1886, name changed to the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Rail Road.

In 1886, the South Carolina General Assembly issued a charter for the Columbia, Newberry, & Laurens Railroad, and the line was officially christened on Christmas Day of 1886. In 1890, work began on the track, and by July of 1891, the line was complete from Columbia to Dover Junction, 63.5 miles. In 1896, the Laurens Railroad was merged into the CN&L to complete the line to Laurens.

The first locomotive of the CN&L was built in 1887, and sold in 1922. The CN&L ran daily passenger trains that originated from Union Station in Columbia, and traveled up the line to Laurens, SC. These trains were always pulled by steam, until the service was discontinued in 1952. The rail was originally 56 pound rail which was replaced with 80-85 pound rail in 1925. In 1972, the entire line was rebuilt using heavy ribbon rail.

The CN&L's first wreck occurred on September 9, 1899 when a wooden trestle over the Broad River collapsed under the weight of the train, killing the entire crew. On September 5, 1928, a Southern Railway passenger train was detoured on the CN&L from Newberry to Columbia, due to a washout on the Southern track. However, a washout had also occurred on the CN&L at the 3-Mile marker, right near the site where Riverbanks Zoo would be located forty-four (44) years later. The Southern train was unaware of this, and plunged into the washout. The train crew and the CN&L pilot onboard were all killed.

Despite these wrecks, as well as other derailments over the years, the CN&L was a very safe railroad. Those two wrecks were the only ones that resulted in death.

Because of the CN&L's location and businesses along its route, the CN&L was a very profitable railroad. It was an important connection with the Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, and Southern Railway. In the late 1950s, the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company steam-powered electric generating plant opened up at Lake Murray, resulting in significant coal traffic on the CN&L.

As an interesting side note, the town of Irmo, SC was built by the railroad as a water and fuel stop along the way. It was incorporated in 1890, and consisted of one square mile of area. It has certainly grown over the years. The name of the town came from the first two letters of the last names of C. J. Iredell, secretary-treasurer of the CN&L, and H.C. Moseley, first president of the CN&L.

The Columbia, Newberry, & Laurens railroad was an important boom to the towns of Irmo, Clinton, Chapin, and others along its route. Known also as the 'Crooked, Noisy, & Late,' the railroad was an independent company throughout its 99 year history, even though it was technically 'owned' by the Atlantic Coast Line since 1924. Its diesel locomotives reflected this controlling interest, as they were in the ACL's purple and silver paint scheme. In 1984, the CN&L was formally merged into CSX Transportation, Inc.

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Towns on Route:

Laurensville > Laurens (1893)



Martins Depot > Goldville (1883) > Joanna (1948)

Kinards Turnout > Kinards (1881)

Dominicks (1888) > Dominick (1891) > Independence (1898)

Gay's Lane

Gary (1890)

Jalappa > Jalapa (1875)

Newberry C.H. > Newberry (1892)


Slighs (1890)

Little Mountain



White Rock


Irmo (1890)


Southern Crossing

New Brookland > West Columbia (1938)


The 22nd Annual Report of the South Carolina Railroad Commissioners of 1900 provided the following list of stations with mileage for the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad:

© 2018 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved