Petition to the General Assembly of South Carolina for State Aid for the Blue Ridge Railroad (to connect Charleston to Cincinnati by rail), c. 1855

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When the Charleston and Hamburg line was established, Charleston was happy to connect its port with the Upstate, but it did not take long for the city to dream of drawing trade from even further west.  By 1835, talk of a railroad connecting Charleston to Cincinnati began to surface, and the interested parties held the Knoxville Convention in Tennessee the following year to develop a plan. The Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad was the first to pursue the connection of the western cities to the coast.  As a railroad already existed connecting Charleston to western South Carolina, and Cincinnati and Louisville were also linked by rail, all that was needed was a connection through the mountains.  The Blue Ridge Railroad was established to complete the route. 

Crossing, or rather tunneling, through the mountains proved more difficult than imagined and the project was nearly abandoned on a number of occasions.  The uncompleted Stump House Tunnel in Walhalla, SC stands as a reminder of the failed efforts to create a passageway through the mountains. 

The above petition from 1855 asks the South Carolina state legislature to continue funding for the Blue Ridge Railroad, noting the importance of a western connection to increase trade in the state.  The legislatures granted funding, but the goal was not reached until 1899.


City Council of Charleston, Petition for State Aid for the Blue Ridge Rail Road Co. to Prevent the Abandonment of their Project to Connect Charleston with the West.  Petitions to the General Assembly.  n.d. Item no. 03468.  S165015.  South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina. 


To the Honorable The Senate

                        And House of Representatives

                                                                                                                    The Memorial of the City Council of Charleston respectfully showeth.

That they have just learned with regret and alarm through the President and Directors of the Blue Ridge Rail Road Company, that the memorial presented by that company, asking aid of your honorable body, is likely to be refused, the result of which will be, an total abandonment of the enterprize, and an entire loss of the large amount of money which has been invested therein; that they have continued to pay the installments of their subscription to the said road, in the reasonable hope, that your honorable body, would aid the said road to its completion and they now respectfully urge for the consideration of your honorable body the disastrous loss that would accrue to the state and city from the abandonment of this enterprise, both in the capital invested, and in the defeat of all hopes on the part of the State and City, of making an independent connection with the West, and of participating in their share of the trade to be derived from said connection.

            They therefore respectfully and unanimously pray your honorable body, to grant to the Blue Ridge Rail Road Company, the aid which they, in their memorial have requested, and your Memorialists as in duty bound, will ever pray &c.

For and in behalf of, and by the authority of the City Council of Charleston.

                        Charles  [illegible]

By the Mayor                                                                           Mayor

            John R Horsey

            Clerk of Council


Memorial of the City of Charleston, praying that the aid asked for by the Blue Ridge Rail Road Company be granted.


Copy for the House of Representatives.

Spe. Order

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of places and regions and the role of human systems in South Carolina.
Indicator 3-1.2 Interpret thematic maps of South Carolina places and regions that show how and where people live, work, and use land and transportation. (G, P, E)
Indicator 3-1.4 Explain the effects of human systems on the physical landscape of South Carolina over time, including the relationship of population distribution and patterns of migration to natural resources, climate, agriculture, and economic development. (G, E, H)
Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.
Indicator 3-4.6 Explain how the Civil War affected South Carolina’s economy, including destruction of plantations, towns, factories, and transportation systems. (E, H)
Standard 3-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.
Indicator 3-5.1 Summarize developments in industry and technology in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, including the rise of the textile industry, the expansion of the railroad, and the growth of the towns. (H, G, E)
Indicator 3-5.4 Explain the impact and the causes of emigration from South Carolina and internal migration from the rural areas to the cities, including unemployment, poor sanitation and transportation services, and the lack of electricity and other modern conveniences in rural locations. (H, E, G)
Standard 4-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the westward movement and its impact on the institution of slavery.
Indicator 4-5.2 Explain the motives for the exploration in the West and the push for westward expansion, including the concept of manifest destiny, economic opportunities in trade, and the availability of rich land. (G, E, H)
Standard 5-2: The student will demonstrate an udnerstanding of the continued westward expansion of the United States.

Indicator 5-2.1 Explain how aspects of the natural environment - including the principal mountain ranges and rivers, terrain, vegetation, and climate of the region— affected travel to the West and thus the settlement of that region. (G, H)

Indicator 5-2.3 Summarize how railroads affected development of the West, including their ease and inexpensiveness for travelers and their impact on trade and the natural environment. (G, E, H)
Standard USHC-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the westward movement and the resulting regional conflicts that took place in America in the nienteenth century.
Indicator USHC-3.1 Explain the impact and challenges of westward movement, including the major land acquisitions, people’s motivations for moving west, railroad construction, the displacement of Native Americans, and the its impact on   the developing American character. (H, G, E)
Standard USHC-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place in the United States during the second half of the ninnteenth century.
Indicator USHC-5.5 Explain the causes and effects of urbanization in late nineteenth-century America, including the movement from farm to city, the continuation of the women’s suffrage movement, and the migration of African Americans to the North and the Midwest. (H, G, E, P)


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