Tracing the Swamp Rabbit Railroad, part 2

Back in May 2012, I traced the long abandoned portion of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad from where the Swamp Rabbit Trail currently ends just north of Travelers Rest then up to the River Falls area. Sunset forced an end to my trip before I felt the job was done, so I went back a few days ago to see what else I could find.

But this time I was not alone. +Ed Clem, aka the Duck Hunter joined me on this adventure. We've been chatting over the internet for a few months now, so it was nice to finally have a chance to meet him in person. We settled on meeting at the U.S. Post Office in Cleveland, SC on US 276/SC 11 to start our adventure since it's within walking distance of some trestle remnants.

Our adventure covers the northern area, long abandoned, of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad:

View Abandoned Railroad: Greenville and Northern (Swamp Rabbit) in a larger map

Update 1/7/2014: The map above has been superceded by a Google Maps Lite version. The biggest difference is in the River Falls area where better information resulted in a different location of the northern terminus.

Once Ed arrived, we chatted a few minutes then walked the short distance over to the site.
Trestle remnants near US Post Office in Cleveland, SC
Down this road is what appears to be farm land according to Google Earth. Back when the Saluda Land and Lumber Company owned the land, the railroad handled transporting the lumber.

A band saw mill, located on the south side of the road, would turn the logs into finished product and ship them out on the railroad. When the band saw mill closed in the 1950s, the railroad was abandoned from this point northward. This same site would be developed in the mid to late 1960s as the Echo Valley theme park. Once the park wound down, the railroad completely disappeared from the area.

Next, we headed up to Riverview to explore other trestle remains.
The Swamp Rabbit railroad crossed here at the Middle Saluda River over land once owned by Captain L. I. Jennings (died August 1918) who named the area Riverview.

Nearby are the remains of a structure...
In this area are remains of a dam, constructed by Jennings according to Batson's book.


Jennings operated several different kinds of mills on his property, according to Mann Batson's book, The Swamp Rabbit Railroad: Legacy and Legend. The remains above seems to match the location of Jennings Mill described in a deed, book WWW, page 67, archived at the Greenville County Register of Deeds:
...following the new preliminary survey now staked out, to the middle Saluda River; crossing said River between Jennings Mill and the present dam, ...
Following the imaginary line by the direction of the trestle, a rather large cut can be located on the west side of the river and the road.
We made it up there to discover the camp I found during the last visit was still there.
We took some photos of the cut...
... then headed down the path to see where it went. Already clipped to my blue jeans was a GPS unit recording my position every three seconds I would use later to revise my map of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad.

We encountered a small trestle over a creek.
While the cut is mostly invisible from Google Earth, it was easy to trace from the ground. The path almost exactly paralleled River Falls Road.
Until the cut ended by merging into the road, that is. This increased our interest in this bridge just ahead.
Could the railroad have passed over this bridge? The masonry underneath the bridge certainly looks old enough. If it didn't, it must have passed over another bridge only a few feet away due to the surrounding terrain.

We managed to follow the right of way now used by power lines until it went into an area we couldn't access at the intersection of River Falls Road and Devil's Ford Road. We then headed up to Gap Creek Road in River Falls (named Potts Cove at one time) where the railroad line terminated according to a 1961 USGS quadrangle map.

The rock is most definitely cut, the most obvious place being here:
We found no traces of the railroad on the north side of the road, so we decided we had gone as far as we could. However, I was pleased we found so much. 

We had a great time exploring history and goofing around at the same time, but it was time to go home. We parted ways then shared our photos once we got home.

View Ed's photos, his blog about the trip [added 1/7/2013]. View my photo set at Flickr [updated 10/2/2013] or my photo album at Google Photos.

I have revised my map of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad using the information gained from this trip. The area where the biggest uncertainties remain are from Pine Ridge Lane in Cleveland to McCarson Road in Riverview due to lack of access to the property.

Update: The next entry in the Tracing the Swamp Rabbit Railroad series is
Boxing Day Adventures followed by Tracing the Swamp Rabbit Railroad in River Falls.

Comments

  1. Looks like you guys had a great exploration. I hate that I missed it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent two articles! I read through both of them and decided to set out and find some of what you found and more if possible. About the best I could do was to find much of what you did but not anything new. What I'd really like to do is get onto the other side of the river (at River Falls) and see if there are more remains of the trestle you photographed. Thanks for the adventure!

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    Replies
    1. I stopped at McCarson Road on the way up to Jones Gap on Dec. 26 (see "Boxing Day Adventures" [http://markemark4.blogspot.com/2013/12/boxing-day-adventures.html]). There is a cutting visible from McCarson Road heading up toward the trestle. If I interpret Google Earth correctly, there must be a small trestle or two (with all those creeks) and more cuttings between McCarson Road and US 276 I'd love to check out someday w/ permission of the property owners.

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