South Carolina Ghost Town on the Railroad

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.

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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.

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Around 1830, he built Salters Plantation, just before his death in 1833.

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.

Capt. John Alexander Salters
The Depot, built in 1856, originally sat along rails that were owned by the Northeastern Railroad and later, the Atlantic Coastal Line.

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.

With the establishment of the depot and subsequent development along the railroad, John Salters’ efforts helped to establish the village of Salters, which was officially incorporated in 1856.

Read About the Historic Bennett School at Salters

c.1910s or 1920s

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Historic Photos of Salters

Salters Plantation Commissary built c. 1890
Salters School Brick School built c. 1924, photo c. 1979
McClary Davis Store at Salters, photo c. 1979
Frank Moseley Store, photo c. 1979
Salters Depot opened c. 1856; photo c. 1979
Salters Depot opened c. 1856; photo c. 1979

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13 thoughts on “South Carolina Ghost Town on the Railroad”

    1. Barbara Salters Jenkins

      My maiden name is Salters. I have been to Salters Plantation for several family reunions. My great grandparents are Caroline Raysor May Salters and Covert Mouzon Salters. John Alexander Salters was my great great grandfather who fought in the Civil War in defense of his homeland.

  1. I love all your stories. This story reminds me of where I used to live, Talladega Springs, Alabama. It was established because of a Sulpher Spring that brought people there to bath in it to help with medical problems. The Railroad and Depot was established that brought people from all over to this little area. A motel/hotel, post office, and Norred’s General Store was also established. None of which is still there except for the Sulpher Springs, which no ever uses any more.

  2. Brevlyn Bates Whetstone

    I love reading these articles about the
    South. South Carolina is my home therefore me and my family travel love to visit these historic places.

  3. Love the salters story keep sending them. I write stories about the old McCullough plantation in south Greenville County and other old plantations in the area. Thanks. J A Scott, lll

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