(Orangeburg County; 2000 pop. 1,083). Incorporated in 1858, Branchville is known as Orangeburg County’s “railroad town” because of its recognition as the oldest railroad junction in the world. The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company completed its track to Branchville from Charleston on November 7, 1832. From this place, the railroad would later branch off to serve Columbia. This was not the first time that travelers had to choose a route at Branchville. The spot was also where a trail used by Native Americans split at a massive oak tree, with branches leading to the modern towns of North Augusta and Orangeburg. The first European settlers, led by Andrew Frederick of Prussia, arrived shortly after 1734 at the spot where the trail split.
For more than a century, railroad passenger service was the economic stimulus for Branchville. Every September, Branchville’s railroad history comes to the forefront during “Raylrode Daze Festivul,” a weekend event that centers around the town’s historic railroad depot/museum. Since passenger service was terminated in 1962, the town’s economy has been mainly dependent on agriculture. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Branchville experienced growth in its retail community with the addition of several new businesses. Branchville Wood Products, owned by Cox Industries, was a leading employer of people in the area.
Along with its railroad history, Branchville looks back on a great high school baseball past. For five consecutive years, from 1945 to 1949, the town’s Yellow Jackets were South Carolina’s Class C baseball champions. In those five years the Branchville teams amassed a record of ninety-five wins and only nine losses.
Myers, Frank K. “Branchville Is One of State’s Oldest Communities.” Orangeburg Times and Democrat, July 9, 1961, p. B3.
Ott, John. “New School, Business Seen as Positive Changes.” Orangeburg Times and Democrat, October 6, 2002, p. 18.