The first settlement of the town of Branchville was 1735 about one mile southeast of the present town. Almost 100 years later, the present town grew from 170 acres of land purchased from the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company. It was located about halfway between Charleston and Hamburg (NorthAugusta, South Carolina).
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America's First Commercial Railroad
America began operations on its first railroad on Christmas Day, 1830, when the Best Friend of Charleston speeded along, as some passengersdescribed "on the wings of the wind at a speed of 20 miles per hour, annihilating both time and space andleaving all the world behind." Construction of the railroad began in 1829 just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, and in 1833 it was completed to Hamburg. The distance was 136 miles and at the time was the longest railroad in the world and twice as long as any in the United States. The railroad branched out from Branchville to Orangeburg in 1840 and became the first Railroad junction in the world.
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Changes in Branchville
The first mail was carried on the rail line from Charles to Hamburg and the first village delivery of mail was in Branchville. The town was also the first to own their own telephone exchange and electric plant. The rail line was also used to haul troopsduring the Civil War. The site of the battery remains where Confederate troops burned the bridge and turnedSherman's troops around Branchville through Orangeburg.
The Depot was built in 1877 and in 1910 the sheds and waiting room were added. The dining room was the first Passenger Dining Room where trains would stop for breakfast and dinner. It claims the distinction of having had three former U.S. Presidents dine there; President William McKinley, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Howard Taft. The Southern Railway Passenger Depot stands today as a symbol of Branchville's rich railroad history and contains Branchville's Railroad Shrine and Museum.
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