Village of Salters | Williamsburg County, SC | c. 1850s
This old depot was built in the 1850s when the railroad came to town and actively served the community of Salters for 100 years. The community was often referred to as Salters Depot, a predominantly agricultural town where some locals even refer to themselves as ‘Saltines.’
And while a few buildings still stand today, including the depot, it no longer serves travelers.
Many moved away and the business doors shuttered, leaving this rural hamlet as a virtual ghost town.
European settlement in the area
European settlers began coming to the Williamsburg District in the first half of the 1700s, mostly from Great Britain.
When they arrived on native lands and as they moved inland, they would’ve encountered different tribes. Some historic accounts of these interactions mention the Chickasaw, the Creek, the PeeDee, the Waccamaw, among some of the tribes who called the land the WeeNee River home, later renamed the Black River.
These immigrants represented a new era for America that brought European settlers from all classes, with different reasons for immigrating, different skills, different means, and different dreams for the future.
While most of the settlers during the 1700s were from Great Britain, some of them were poor Protestants of Scots-Irish descent looking for relief from the famine and disease in Ireland in the 1720s and 30s. While other settlers from the aristocracy arrived to cultivate the fertile lands of the inland swamp that were ideal for indigo and cotton planting.
The productive agricultural conditions, reliance on enslaved labor to cultivate the crops, and access to the Black River for shipping goods to Georgetown, made this area attractive to planters in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The William Salters Plantation
Around 1806, William Salters(1788-1833) appears for the first time in land records in the area, buying 1,150 acres that year from the Frierson Family. Salters eventually acquired the accolade of Colonel for his service in the South Carolina militia, while simultaneously acquiring thousands more acres along the Black River, where he planted cotton that was cultivated by enslaved labor.
The Railroad Comes to Town
His descendant, Capt. John Salters, saw an opportunity when the railroad came through in 1856. After tracks were laid along the eastern edge of his property, he arranged to have a depot built near his house.
The Village of Salters is Founded
First and foremost, access to the depot and rail line made it easier to ship his own crops out to bigger markets. But the arrival of this new transport line and construction of the depot also opened up for sale the property lots along the rails. Soon, homes and commercial enterprises would open to serve locals and train travelers alike.