2014-08-29 / Travel

Bagnal’’s Bottom

Part 2: Mills, Trains, and Booze
By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


Due to the legal efforts of Abney, this hydroelectric station on the Columbia Canal was built in 1903 to provide power to the Columbia Duck Mill in the background, now the State Museum. Due to the legal efforts of Abney, this hydroelectric station on the Columbia Canal was built in 1903 to provide power to the Columbia Duck Mill in the background, now the State Museum. This is a trip into a history of my childhood neighborhood, a section of Columbia fondly known as Bagnal’s Bottom. This sandhill subdivision has a rich history dating back to Wade Hampton III and including many interesting people.

During the 1890s, attorney Benjamin Abney was involved in many highly visible court cases. He managed the merger of the Congaree Gas and Electric Company; the Columbia Electric Street Railway, Light and Power Company; and the Columbia Water Power Company into SCE& G (now SCANA) which created electrical power at the Columbia Canal to power the Columbia Duck Mill, the nation’s first electrically-operated textile mill.

Abney then turned his attention to the railways operating in S. C. When the State of S. C. claimed that the 1902 acquisition by Southern Railway of the Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad Company, the S.C. and Georgia Railway Extension Company, and the Carolina Midland Railway Company was illegal and gave Southern Railway an unfair competitive advantage and a monopoly over the rail industry in the state, Abney took on the state claiming the merger was positive and good for the state. He won the case proudly announcing a victory for the railways and commerce.


The Seaboard Railroad Station on Gervais Street resulted from the merger of Southern Railway of the Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad Company, the South Carolina and Georgia Railway Extension Company, and the Carolina Midland Railway Company in 1902. It is now the home of the Blue Marlin restaurant. The Seaboard Railroad Station on Gervais Street resulted from the merger of Southern Railway of the Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad Company, the South Carolina and Georgia Railway Extension Company, and the Carolina Midland Railway Company in 1902. It is now the home of the Blue Marlin restaurant. Abney then joined the man he had defeated in the railway case, S.C. Attorney General J. Fraser Lyon, to liquidate the State Dispensary ( the agency that controlled the production, distribution, and sale of all liquor in S.C.) that had been shut down by the legislature. By 1907, he and Lyon had disposed of all property, collected all debts, and paid off all bills.


Abney’s legal prowess led to the creation of the Southern Railway System. Abney’s legal prowess led to the creation of the Southern Railway System. Next week: A Strange Liaison

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