End of the Pickens Doodle Railroad

The cities of Easley and Pickens in Pickens County, South Carolina are now officially owners of the Pickens Railroad or "Pickens Doodle", the deteriorating 8.5 mile railroad between Pickens and Easley. Chartered in 1890, finished in 1898, and in disuse for some time, the railway that once served several textile mills and passengers at the Pickens Depot is now being removed to make way for a multi-use trail to be built at some indefinite time in the future. I spent a few hours one day last week travelling along the line taking photos while the rails were being removed.

Here at Wilbur Street in Easley, the rails have only been partially removed. Many of the remaining cross-ties were in poor condition.

While a short distance away at Fern Street, the rails have been removed except for the one embedded in the road (would tear up the pavement I presume). Many of the cross ties here were also in poor condition.
I took some more photos at Lewis Street, then moved on to Arial Street.
Arial Street is named for one of the Pickens Railroad's former customers, Arial Mill. The Pickens County Library's photograph of the mill from 1970 shows the rail line going by.
Arial Mill
from the Pickens County Flickr collection
The mill is still in use, although I didn't many parked cars or much activity except for one 18-wheel truck I saw go in.

At West Arial Street and Rice Road, where the mill office is located, the rails in the street were left in place.
Rails next to West Arial Street were stacked for later pick up.
I found the same at Cedar Rock Church Road, Falcon Drive, and Pickle Hill Road. The rails were mostly gone, except for the ones in the road.
I found the workers removing the rail at Turner Road, a short distance from Pickens, but I couldn't find a safe place to park so I kept going.

On Railroad Street in Pickens, the rails mostly parallel the road on one side and then the other. The rails hadn't yet been removed, making it easy to see how the poor condition of the railroad line.
The railroad ends where Railroad Street and Cedar Rock Street intersect with Hampton Avenue.
The locomotive and three boxcars remain...
along with the former Pickens Railway office, shed, and repair shop (not shown).
All were included in the $500,000 purchase by Easley and Pickens. According to a story in the Pickens County Courier, Pickens will keep the locomotive and one of the boxcars and Easley keeps a boxcar and a WW II-era kitchen car.

The former Pickens Railway office, also where the Pickens Depot once stood, will likely serve as a trailhead.
I wasn't quite done yet. In looking over a 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Pickens, I noticed the Hiawatha Hotel just down the street from the railroad's terminus.
Many of the old hotels I've searched for over the years are no longer standing, mostly because of fire (Chick Springs Hotel, Altamont Hotel, Caesars Head Hotel to name three). Could this be an exception?

Why yes. Yes, it is. Whew!
Hiawatha Hotel
from the Pickens County Library Flickr collection
As far as I can tell, the building currently used for offices. I wanted to take another photo from the same direction as the old post card, but trees blocked the view.

If this trail does for Pickens and Easley what the Swamp Rabbit Trail has done for Travelers Rest, then that $500,000 will be money well spent. I know I'll be back when the Pickens Doodle Trail is open.

My photos from this trip are available from Flickr and Google+ Photos.

I made a map of the route using Google's Maps Engline Lite:


  1. Interesting post. I had never heard of the Hiawatha Hotel. Thanks!!!

  2. Thought I might pass along some information about the Hiawatha Hotel.

    It was originally owned by a Thornley Durant Harris Sr. (not sure if he was the one who built it though). He maintained ownership until the death of his wife in 1915 and then he moved his family to Baltimore, Maryland. I'm told by his granddaughter (my husband's grandmother) that the visited the area often after the move. She managed to glean some information a few years ago from a woman researching the area. T.D. Harris installed the first gas powered lights in the town which he powered by his own carbide plant and had the first "waterworks" run by a windmill from water in his well.

    The name also changed throughout the years from Hiawatha Hotel, to Old Hickory Inn to Pickens Hotel and finally, you're correct, it was converted into office space.

    My husband's grandmother enjoyed your blog. It's been some years since she's been back to see the "hotel" so a recent picture was a nice treat for her, Thank you!


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