Aiken, SC – Over the weekend I visited the Augusta, GA and Aiken, SC area to take a canal boat tour on the Augusta Canal and visit the Savannah River Site Museum in Aiken. The weather wasn’t very good on Saturday and forced me to reschedule the boat tour to Sunday, so I needed to find some other things to do. One of those things was visiting the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum. The Visitors Center is located on the first floor of the rebuilt Aiken Railroad Depot and the Train Museum is located on the second floor.
The Visitors Center and Train Museum are in a rebuilt version of the Aiken Railroad Depot. The original depot was built in 1899 and torn down in 1954 when the railroad stopped passenger travel to Aiken. It was rebuilt so that the exterior looked like the original, but with a modern interior more suitable for a visitors center and museum. In addition to the displays and exhibits inside, the Visitors Center and Train Museum also features two Pullman Cars and a Caboose outside.
The Train Museum is on the second floor of the building and depicts the Charleston & Hamburg Railroad (the legal name of the railroad was the South Carolina Canal and Railroad) in HO scale. When it began service in 1833, it was one of the first chartered railroads in the United States and at 136 miles long, one of the longest at that time. The exhibit shows how the railroad would have appeared in 1916 as it passed through Charleston, Summerville, St. George, Branchville, Denmark, Blackville, Aiken, and Hamburg.
If you’re in the Aiken area, I’d definitely stop by the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum if you have an interest in railroads or model trains. It’s a very small museum, but the scale depiction of the railroad is detailed and fascinating to look at and the exhibits that go along with it are very informative. The staff at the Visitors Center are very friendly and you’ll be able to find out plenty of information on where to go and what to do in Aiken.