Pickens Railroad History

The Easley-Pickens line was chartered on Dec. 24, 1890 by the South Carolina General Assembly after two failed attempts to build a railroad through Pickens from Easley. The line connected with the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad (later the Southern Railway) and was completed in 1898.
On the railroad’s first revenue run, the Pickens Railroad suffered a serious derailment that was caused by a local group of boys that had placed spikes on the rails, in their words, “to see what would happen.” No one was seriously injured, but the incident caused the fledgling company a serious financial setback, leaving it to operate in the red until 1905.
Train22In its early years, it was nicknamed the “Pickens Doodle” because the train would run backward to Easley and forward to Pickens, which “looked like a doodlebug,” according to area residents. The Pickens Railroad at the time did not have turning facilities until the line built two wye sections of track at each end of the line years later.
The Southern Railway briefly acquired control of the Pickens around 1910, however, it was reverted to local interests several years later.
In the 1920s, Singer Manufacturing located a sewing machine cabinet plant on the Pickens Railroad. The plant eventually became the railroad’s biggest customer, and the line was purchased outright in 1939 by Singer. In 1927, the Appalachian Lumber Company built a network of logging lines in hte upper portion of Pickens County. By 1939, it too was acquired by Singer and organized under the Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company. Passenger service was discontinued in 1928 as better roads were built in the region.
In 1959, the Singer Company consolidated its sawmill and cabinet operations with the woodworking operations from Arkansas and the Craftsman power tools from New Jersey to the Pickens location. Several years later (in 1963), Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company had announced that the Pickens Railroad was for sale. James F. Jones of North Carolina purchased the line for approximately $50,000. Jones built a new enginehouse and established a carshop for rebuilding and renovating railroad cars. Jones sold the Pickens in 1973 to Philadelphia-based National Railway Utilization Company (NRUC), which expanded the carshop to build new freight cars.
In the early 1990s, NRUC became Emergent Group and sold the railroad to CLC-Chattahoochee Locomotive Corp., which renamed the railroad Pickens Railway Company, according to the Federal Register, May 1, 1996. On April 2, 2013, Pickens Railway pulled the last train to Easley because of lack of business. The final run was pulled by Pickens #9502 and CLCX #12132. The last train ended an era of more than 100 years of running to Easley.