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The Trestles, Gadsden Street: 28 Janurary 1991   15 comments

Posted at 12:22 am in Uncategorized

My memory of The Trestles is now rather hazy, but I'm pretty sure they were along Gadsden Street, at the lower end of The Coliseum parking lots.

As the name suggests, they were elevated train tracks, but instead of crossing a river, they crossed Blossom Street. At this remove I can't recall the sequence of events, but I suppose that the current arch on Blossom Street which lets train traffic run under it was done so that the trestles could be demolished. The demolition itself was controversial. Many people considered The Trestles to be a huge eyesore in the middle of the city's new development project, The Congaree Vista. Others considered them an important Columbia landmark and a visible remider of Columbia history. I was living in Fayteville NC at the time The Trestles came down, but I came home fairly often and noticed story after story in The State about it. I came down on the side of leaving The Trestles because I hate for anything to change ever, but that side lost and a search of The State's archive suggests that demolition began 28 Janurary 1991.

Of course, the historicity aside, what I really remember about The Trestles is that is where everyone when to practice parallel parking. I'm not sure exactly why this was other than there was not a lot of traffic under the structures, but I clearly recall driving down there around 1976 to try my hand at it. (I was, and remain, so-so). I don't think the activity was officially sanctioned by anyone, but nobody seemed to have a problem with it. I'm sure today it would be an insurance issue for somebody.

UPDATE 24 November 2009: Corrected typo/thinko for "Gadsden Street".

Written by ted on November 23rd, 2009

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15 Responses to 'The Trestles, Gadsden Street: 28 Janurary 1991'

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  1. You know, I think I practiced parallel parking there as well. I'd forgotten all about that.


    23 Nov 09 at 5:16 am

  2. They carried rail traffic by the old train station (now the Blue Marlin) on Lincoln St. The viaduct on Blossom St. was built in the '60s to get traffic over other train tracks. When the "big ditch" project redirected all of the rail traffic between Wayne St. and Pulaski St. the trestle was no longer required.

    Other remnants of that route include the tunnel at the corner of Findlay Park and the viaduct at the beginning of I-126 on Elmwood.


    23 Nov 09 at 6:47 am

  3. Remember the drunk guy that drove his car maybe a block down the trstle before he fell off?

    I had the pleasure of seeing a semi that was too tall bash its box on the trestle at Devine. It was great.

    I think one of the peirs remains in Olympia with a painting of Ra on it.


    23 Nov 09 at 8:38 am

  4. What I'm trying to remember is how the tracks got from Lincoln Street, which is the street in front of the old Seaboard Air Line Passenger Depot, and worked their way west toward Gadsden (not Gadsen by the way) Street and then elevate to at least 30 feet. I've tried following it overhead on the google satellite map and can see most of the remnants of the tracks (an interesting exercise in itself) but can't seem to find the "missing link" between Lincoln and Gadsden. I'm having a hard time remembering not only how the line shifted from Lincoln Street to Gadsden Street, but how it got 30 feet in the air on the trestle in such a short distance. Wouldn't it be sweet to have some photographs of that transition? Anyone here remember that detail?

    If you follow the tracks back toward the north, it's interesting how obvious all the old track remnants are for the Lincoln Street line, you can easily follow them around Sydney Park (it's even called the Seaboard Park in the google satellite map) to Elmwood Cemetery cutting closer to town and then the present line cutting to the west of the cemetery. This one goes back south next to Pulaski Street, which is where the Amtrack station is now. Very fun stuff, of course my father was a railroad engineer for Southern Railway so maybe I'm biased with the train stuff.

    The Egyptian art on some of the trestles was done by Richard Lane who also painted the Green Hulk on the old Grow Café.

    if you're interested in the google overhead, click here

    Michael Taylor

    23 Nov 09 at 9:57 pm

  5. I remember the Trestles, and when they were torn down, although I can't remember the exact year. It was a big thing, people came to see the last part torn down. It was so cool driving under them when the train was going over!

    Deborah Aldridge

    23 Nov 09 at 11:55 pm

  6. First I'm lifting the link for the trestle photo that Mike left on the "Have Your Say" entry and putting it here:

    Someone who's better up on their automobiles could place the year; all I know is somewhere between 1905-maybe 1925?

    That ancient pic definitely delivered the parallel parking flashbacks. Fyi, the area was being used for that same purpose in the 1980's by private, professional driving instructors, so sketch or no, *evvvvvvvry*body was doing it.

    Also, what Mike said about the arch and ditch project, he speaks truth. I knew I saw trains on that trestle as we came over the arch!

    Kudos to Michael Taylor for his shout-out to the talent and memory of the late Richard Lane (1953-98).


    10 Jun 10 at 5:16 pm

  7. Alright Jenny, you're burning up the board aren't you, I love it!

    If you knew Richard Lane, we probably know some of the same people. I first met Richard when I was a freshman at A.C. Flora and he was a senior (1970). I wouldn't say he was a close tight friend, but we ran with pretty much the same crew during the old hippy days (1972-1984 for me), and I knew him to be a talented artist and a kind, gentle soul who is greatly missed by those of us who knew him. He left us too soon. Kind of off topic for this thread, but I just had to respond to your memory of Richard.

    No need to be specific, but judging from your comments I'm guessing you're living West of the Mississippi someplace? Just curious.

    Michael Taylor

    10 Jun 10 at 8:19 pm

  8. Here is a few shots taken by F. Will Martin of the old Seaboard Lincoln Street Trestle from the 1980s:

    CSX train #464 heading northbound to Hamlet, NC, passing over Greene St. near the Carolina Coliseum.

    Different shot of another CSX train #464, shot near the coliseum's parking lot.

    Taken on the south end in the Olympian neighborhood about a month before it was scrapped.

    Looking south near the passenger station:

    Sad sight-the scrapping of the trestle:


    Robyn Watts

    5 Dec 11 at 2:05 pm

  9. Whoops, the first pic should have been this:


    Robyn Watts

    5 Dec 11 at 2:08 pm

  10. Very nice Robyn!


    5 Dec 11 at 2:43 pm

  11. Cool pics, Robyn!


    6 Dec 11 at 7:35 am

  12. F. Will Martin got some nice shots as Robyn Watts noted. He should becommended for documenting that last few years of the Lincoln Street Viaduct. The funny thing about the railroad relocation project is that while it got the trains off of Gervais Street, it put them all back on Huger. Seaboard adn then CSX would go behind Olympia and Granby Mills and over the side street via a trestle before hitting the Lincoln Street Viaduct at Heyward Street.

    So every time you're stopped by a CSX train at Huger where it does the 90% curve to Whaley, you can thank the dismantling of Lincoln Street Viaduct for this.

    Also, even if the city needed to detour trains through what they call the ditch, dismantling the viaduct was a serious mistake, even moreso now that the reopened the old train tunnel at Lady as a pedestrian walkway. Keeping the viaduct as a walkway would have connected the Vista with the new Greek Village, the neighborhoods north of town and the Congaree, not to mention the baseball stadium. (Hell, both of them, if you will.)

    More on the LSV at

    Joe Hinson

    25 Feb 13 at 2:36 pm

  13. Since I'm coming on so late, I may be typicing to cobwebs unless this gnerates an e-mail, but in regards to the trestle versus the arch over where the tracks are now, this Hunter Desportes shot has been mentioned elsewhere. It shows a motorcade with then President Nixon in 1973. Behind the motorcade, you can obviously see the Lincoln Street Viaduct, but can also make out the arch on Blossom over the railroad tracks. Back then, I believe there would have been Atlantic Coast Line rails to their yard near where the railroad diamond is now in the Greek Village.

    Joe Hinson

    25 Feb 13 at 2:50 pm

  14. Thanks for the comments! The most recent comments will always show up on the top left of the screen, so folks should see them..


    25 Feb 13 at 2:58 pm

  15. I found this cool page about it. They say it could have been a walking bridge for all of downtown.

    Mr Bill

    5 Sep 14 at 11:18 am

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