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$750M in last 20 years

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By Jenny Hartley

Many residents may not realize it, but the Lancaster & Chester Railway acts as an inland port for goods headed to coastal ports, such as Charleston.

The railway is vital to the area for attracting industry, and railway officials expect it to be an important part of economic development in Lancaster County for years to come.

Railway President Steve Gedney recently gave an update on the L&C to Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members.

- 1896: The year Col. Leroy Springs founded the railway for $25,000. The railway consisted of 29 miles, and brought in lumber and shipped out goods from the area.

- The 1940s: The railway's heyday. It had 64 employees and four locomotives serving the Springs Industries cotton mills.

- The 1960s: Increasing automation technology. The railway had 43 employees and four diesel locomotives. Col. Elliott Springs boasted that the L&C was the first diesel railroad in the United States.

- 29: The number of vice presidents for the railway under Col. Elliott Springs, one for each mile. Performer Gypsy Rose Lee served as vice president of unveiling.

- 14: The number of locomotives the railway has now

- $4 million: The direct impact of the railway on the local economy annually, according to Gedney

- $750 million: The amount the railway has helped bring to the area over the last 20 years, along with 2,200 jobs.

- 6,000: The number of carloads the railway has lost over the last 20 years, with plant closings

- 5,000: The number of acres the railway controls, owns and markets in Chester and Lancaster counties

- 31: The number of extra miles the railway bought from Norfolk Southern to serve ADM and AmeriSteele from near Bowater to Kershaw. It resulted in a 30 percent increase in traffic on the L&C, and if the railway can get two more large shippers to the line, ADM in Kershaw will begin using larger cars to move more weight, Gedney said. ADM is the only soybean cracking plant in South Carolina.

- 1 gallon: The amount of fuel it takes to transport a ton of freight by railway