SC History Trail

Florence Railroad Museum

The Florence Railroad Museum, which is located on Irby Street beside the Florence City-County Government Complex, is housed in a restored railroad boxcar. The Museum features exhibits and artifacts related to the history of the railroad in Florence.


Florence Railroad Museum
Irby St., Florence, SC
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Site Description
Although Florence is often thought of today as the medical center of the Pee Dee, it began as a railroad town and the railroad remains important to the city today. The city of Florence is the county seat of Florence County and is also considered the metropolitan, political, financial and cultural center of the Pee Dee Region. It was an isolated area of small farms, timber production, naval stores operations, and a few scattered cotton plantations, until 1853, when the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad bought five acres of land and built a small depot on the site of modern Florence.

The Wilmington & Manchester's line intersected here with the tracks of two other railroads, the Northeastern Railroad and the Cheraw & Darlington Railroad, making the railroad intersection an ideal site for a town. W.W. Harllee, the president of the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad, built a house near his line's depot and named the newborn town in honor of his daughter Florence.

The town grew quickly, and during the Civil War it became an important rail supply and maintenance center. After the war, Florence prospered as a rail shipping center for timber, cotton and tobacco. In the 20th century, the city continued to grow with paper production, manufacturing, textiles and pharmaceuticals, aided by its location on U.S. Highway 301, and later by the existence of Interstate Highways 95 and 20, as well as its continued rail connection. Modern Florence is an important stop on Amtrak's north-south East Coast route.

Today, the city's history as a railroad town is preserved at the Florence Railroad Museum, which is located - like the Amtrak station - in downtown Florence near the City-County Government Complex on Irby Street. The museum is operated by the Florence Museum and is housed in a renovated railroad box car. Displays chart the development of the railroad in Florence and numerous railroad artifacts are reminders of the importance of the railroad in Pee Dee history.

To tour the Railroad Museum, visitors should contact the Florence Museum at (843) 663-3351. The Florence Museum, located at Spruce Street in Florence, also contains displays related to the area's railroad history, and preserved on the Museum grounds is a vintage steam locomotive and wood car built by the Vulcan Iron Works. Near the Florence City-County Government Complex, several outdoor wall murals by local artist Elvis Hatchell depict Florence's railroad heritage.
Access and Admission
Access Description: Open June-Aug, Sat-Sun 2-5pm.
Tours and Events
Guided Tours: Yes