•The Springmaid Line•
The first thing that caught my eye when pulling into The Lancaster & Chester Depot was the large painting of a Dutch girl. It reminded me an old butter or milk advertisement. It certainly wasn’t what I expected to see on the front of a train depot. Even more shocking was that it was once one of the best-known logos of the 20th century.
In 1895, a guy named Leroy Springs started Lancaster Cotton Mill. Which became one of the biggest cotton mills ever. He also bought the Chester and Cheraw Railroad. The railroad was originally intended to go from Chester to Cheraw. That never happened and the line was never completed. So when Leroy Springs bought it he renamed it the Lancaster and Chester Railroad, also known as the Springmaid Line. Why Leroy used a Dutch girl to sell his fabric I’m not completely sure. I guess it just seemed more appealing than “Spring Fabric”.
It is really fascinating how almost everything leads back to cotton around here. The building directly beside the depot was also in the cotton business. The Lancaster Cotton Oil Company was once a very important part of the counties’ economy too. The shape of the building is very ominous and disturbing if you ask me. I imagine that is because I don’t understand the reason for its design. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before.
Even though the depot was supposed to be open it wasn’t. I had hoped to have some photos to show you of what the museum looks like. I stood out in the cold knocking for some time. Luckily I noticed this old railcar just across the street. The windows were covered in plyboard and the entire thing seemed to be in pretty bad shape.
Lancaster and Chester Railroad has a long history of constant strife. One example is the wooden trestle that burned in 1899. The original depot burned down after only a month. None of that compares though to the Hooper’s creek wreck. On June 30th, 1913 a train carrying seventy-nine passengers derailed. Five died in the accident.
Even though the springs mill closed and even though the railroad has had a rocky past, it has somehow managed to stay in business even today. The L&C Railroad has been operating for over 117 years. I find that to be the most surprising discovery. Hopefully, they will be in business for many years to come.
Location: 34.71443, -80.76711