Hamlet - five SAL lines?

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Hamlet - five SAL lines?

Postby jhscarborough » Mon January 21, 2013, 11:55 am

Often reported as if it were a fact is the statement that Hamlet, at one time, had "five Seaboard Railroad lines leading out" of town. By my reckoning there were, and have only ever been, four. If there ever was a fifth, which direction was it headed and where were the tracks located?
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Postby Bruce Osburn » Mon January 21, 2013, 1:01 pm

If I remember correctly, there was a line that branched off the east-west line about a half mile east of NC#38 and then bent in a southerly direction and ran parallel to NC 381, all the way to Gibson, N.C., continuing into S.C. and down to the coast somewhere.
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Postby lynnsteen » Mon January 21, 2013, 1:10 pm

You are right on that Bruce O., but I would consider that branch line part of the main east line out of town.

Although not a railroad person, I tend to agree with JHS that there were only four, one for each of the cardinal ordinates.
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Postby Malcolm McLellan » Mon January 21, 2013, 1:59 pm

Hamlet:
1. east to Wilmington
2. east (brakes of at east junction) to Charleston & Savannah
3. north to Raleigh
4. south to Columbia & Savannah
5. west to Atlanta & Birmingham
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Postby Jody Meacham » Mon January 21, 2013, 3:13 pm

Image
I think this is one of those questions on which everyone can claim to be correct and the differences in answers attributed to equally valid interpretations.

Without question the Seaboard’s lines lead away from the diamond at the passenger station north, south, east and west.

But as Bruce points out, a train heading east out of town comes to a switch within a few hundred yards after passing over Highway 38. If the train takes the left fork, it continues east toward Pembroke, where it crosses the old Atlantic Coast Line mainline, and on to its terminus at Wilmington. If the train takes the right fork, it curves to the south, crosses the ACL mainline at Dillon, S.C., and passes through Georgetown, S.C., and Charleston, S.C., on its way to joining the Seaboard’s north-south mainline at Savannah, Ga.

It does, as Lynn says, branch off the eastbound main, but in the larger scheme of the Seaboard’s route system it served as a parallel alternate route for north-south trains between Hamlet and Savannah.

As you can see from the map above showing five lines radiating from the hub in Hamlet, the line from Hamlet to Savannah through Charleston is somewhat longer than the line through Columbia, S.C. But because it’s located farther east, it runs across flatter ground with fewer curves and was an easier and cheaper route for freight trains, because it took less power to pull the weight. Less coal burned and smaller locomotives in the steam era, fewer diesels for a train in the modern era. The route through Columbia was shorter and faster for passenger trains, which are lighter than freights.

For the railroad it was all about engineering and economics. For this discussion, the Charleston line was a line that branched from the eastbound main – a fifth line – but whose purpose was to carry north-south traffic, a purpose it shared with another line.
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Postby sigmore » Mon January 21, 2013, 4:54 pm

Dag Nabbit Joe!! Where have you been to at? You haven't been hung up inna worm hole havyah??
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Postby jhscarborough » Mon January 21, 2013, 5:28 pm

I admit it is a fine point of distinction, but the Gibson Branch didn't switch off the Wilmington Division, now the Wilmington Subdivision, until what is now called, in railroad terms, East Junction and that is not, nor ever has been in Hamlet per se. Nit picking? Probably, but historians are wont to do so. I was researching the actual location of Sandhills which some say tradition says was renamed Hamlet. I ran across several instances of the five SAL lines comment in the process.
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Postby jhscarborough » Mon January 21, 2013, 6:35 pm

Historically, the Gibson Branch was built by the Raleigh & Augusta RR in the summer of 1884 and ran only to Gibson where, at the time, there were no other railroads. The R&A shared almost a mile of Carolina Central trackage connecting to its Gibson Branch along the same route followed today. It wasn't until October of 1892 that another line, the Charleston, Sumter & Northern, connected with the R&A Gibson Branch. This set the stage for the SAL Charleston route shown in the map Jody shared.
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