Founded in 1914 by Washington Bartow Rast, the Swansea Veneer and Basket Works was an expansion of Rast’s veneer mill that he had started in 1896. One of the first trade factories in South Carolina, it was for many years Swansea’s only industry.
Initially the factory made banana drums, barrels, furniture, and fine veneers. By 1903 production was expanded to include wooden crates, boxes, and baskets used by the burgeoning truck-farming industry in South Carolina for shipping fruits and vegetables. By 1920 Swansea’s location as a railroad stop on the main line of the Columbia-Savannah Railroad (now the Coastline Railroad) enabled the factory’s products to be used for shipping from Lexington County to points all over the eastern seaboard and into Canada.
When Rast’s son, Lewis Oliver Rast, joined his father in the business, it became known as W. B. Rast’s Son’s Company. After Washington Bartow Rast died, his son continued operating the company until it ceased operations in 1964.
Woody, Howard, and Thomas L. Johnson. South Carolina Postcards. Vol. 4, Lexington County and Lake Murray. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2000.