South Carolina Railroads - Richmond & Danville Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point



1870 in SC


Too Many

Too Many

* 1894 - Merged with the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad to form Southern Railway.

Owned and operated the following railroads associated with South Carolina:

+ 1888 -  Laurens Railroad

+ 1881 - Asheville & Spartanburg Railroad

+ 1878 - Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad

+ 1877 - Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railroad

+ 1870 - Atlanta & Richmond Air Line Railroad

These lines retained their names until they were all merged into Southern Railway in 1894, except for the Laurens Railroad, which was merged into the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad.

There is no evidence that the Richmond & Danville Railroad built any other lines within South Carolina. 

+ 1890 - The 12th Annual Report of the South Carolina Railroad Commission of 1890 reported that the following South Carolina Railroads were identified as part of the Richmond & Danville system:

- Asheville & Spartanburg Railroad
- Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railway
- Blue Ridge Railroad (Leased by the Columbia & Greenville Railroad)
- Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad
- Cheraw & Chester Railroad
- Chester & Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Columbia & Greenville Railroad
- Spartanburg, Union & Columbia Railroad

The Richmond & Danville Railroad, chartered in Virginia in 1847, opened a 140-mile rail line between the two cities of its name in 1856. A 48-mile extension from Danville to Greensboro, NC, was completed during the U.S. Civil War - known at that time as the Piedmont Railroad.

After the war, the R&D came into the possession of the Southern Railway Security Company, a holding company created to extend the interests the Pennsylvania Railroad into the South. Organized in 1871, it was controlled by, among others, Tom Scott of the Pennsylvania, William T. Walters and B.F. Newcomer of Baltimore, James Roosevelt of New York, and Henry Bradley Plant of the Southern Express Company.

In 1872, the R&D extended aid to the Atlanta & Richmond Air Line Railway to help it complete its road between Charlotte and Atlanta. The line was to become a key link in the "Piedmont Air Line,” a system of railroads across the southeast.

By the mid-1870s, the Southern Railroad Security Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad had gained control of over 2,000 miles of railroad including the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia, the Western & Atlantic, the Memphis & Charleston, the Wilmington & Weldon, and the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta. Profits were minor, however, due largely to the ruined condition of the Southern post-war economy. During the latter half of the decade the group sold off its Southern holdings and the Pennsylvania turned its attention to the west. In 1880, the Pennsylvania sold the R&D to the new Clyde Syndicate.

In 1877, the R&D leased the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railway.

In 1880, the Richmond and West Point Terminal Railway and Warehouse Company was chartered to acquire railroads which the R&D could not acquire directly due to a limitation in its charter. The Terminal Company quickly purchased over 700 miles of existing railroads and acquired the franchises for a number of projected lines including the Georgia Pacific Railway and the Rabun Gap Short Line Railway.

The Richmond & Danville bought the Lawrenceville-to-Suwanee line from the Lawrenceville Branch Railroad in 1885. This line was sold to the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railway in 1908. It was abandoned in 1920.

The Richmond a& Danville leased the 61-mile Northeastern Railroad of Georgia in 1886.

In 1887, the Terminal Company gained control of the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad.

In 1888, the Terminal Company purchased the entire capital stock of the Georgia Company, which had been organized the previous year to acquire a controlling interest in the capital stock of the Central Railroad and Banking Company.

In 1889, the 566-mile Georgia Pacific Railway was completed and began operation from Atlanta, GA to Greenville, MS. It had been leased to the Richmond & Danville in January of that year.

In 1890, the Terminal Company acquired a controlling interest in the Alabama Great Southern Railroad.

The R&D grew to encompass some 3,300 miles of railroad by 1890, but its financial standing became shaky soon afterwards. In 1892, the R&D and the Terminal Company entered receivership. After reorganization by J.P. Morgan, the railroad re-emerged in 1894 as the Southern Railway Company.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved