Return to Aiken: William Aiken and the SCRR

We had the opportunity to return to Aiken, SC sooner than we thought and were able to visit on a Thursday and be able to go inside the AIKEN RR MUSUEM. The museum really showed the connections between Charleston and Aiken and the vital importance of the railroad. With the inclusion of model railroads, videos and interactive games I highly recommend this as a place to visit in Aiken, even with young ones. The entire upstairs floor contains a picture that shows the railroads path from Charleston to Aiken. There are railroad models, like a diorama, of Charleston and the small towns that the SCRR stop at on its journey to Aieken. A small train went around the display, which was really cool!
It was really fun to know that the Charleston Visitor’s Center Depot and the Best Friend of Charleston museum were linked over hundreds of miles to this location. And an important family in Charleston was an important part of the history and growth of this city. One really felt the dynamic power of people changing the world in small but fundamental ways as they confronted the issues of their times. The museum provided a powerful connection to the people and the land that were so important to the Aikens and the business community of Charleston

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Looking at the models of the small towns, including ?? ?? and ??, one could see the dynamic effect on commerce and town building that was facilitated by the SC railroads. It was easy to imagine how Aiken was important to Charleston bringing in goods from the eastern part of the state. The museum also did a good job showing how the movement of cotton and goods down the Savannah River to the coast of Georgia was debilitating to the Charleston economy, especially in regards to cotton.
The model was nicely done, but did make me a little sad as it showed off one of the lost architectural treasures of Charleston: the Union Station. The original depots were mainly for goods. This lovely building was primarily a passenger station. Sadly, this building was torn down in ????

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There was a picture of William Aiken in the bookstore area of the museum. There was a picture of William Aiken himself- which I quickly realized was a statue!  We were told the statue was down on Newberry Street in the middle of town and so we definitely went and grab some pictures. I was proud to rest my hands on the sturdy shoulders of William Aiken, who was so critically important on bringing the railroad to Charleston. As you can see, we even had time for a brief chat.

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