Fiction or Real?

I have tried to keep close or at least ‘near’ actual history .. twisting it to fit my agenda when necessary .. or just for fun. To show that any altered history will look like this:

Some time after the end of the American Civil War. The Baltimore Gun Club, a society dedicated to the design of weapons of all kinds (especially cannons), builds projectile which is successfully launched to the moon!

For the moment I am going to insert a series of dates indicating DOB for Branstetters and Lugoffs .. they ‘weave’ in and out of the timeline and I need to get a handle on that.

Something like .. dude was born this year

 

Date State What Happened
Pre-1775 NC Horton Coal Mine operated near Gulf, NC for local needs. George Wilcox builds forge near Cumnock.
1834 NC

Sean Branstetter born in Norfolk, VA to German/Irish immigrants.

1834 NC

Khristina Lugoff was born in Russia

1852 NC Main shaft of Egypt Mine sunk to depth of 460 feet. *The Western Railroad of NC was chartered to build a 43 mile line from Fayetteville northwest to the coalfields of Egypt, about seven miles beyond Sanford. Right-of-way was procured during a six year period, construction began in 1858, and trains were hauling coal to Fayetteville by 1861.
November 1853 NC An auger boring uncovered a coal seam some 400 feet deep at the Egypt site.
February 14, 1855 NC The Chatham Railroad (CRR) was chartered by North Carolina to build a rail line, “…between Deep River, at or near the Coalfields, Moncure, NC in the county of Chatham, and the City of Raleigh or some point on the North Carolina Railroad.”
1856 NC Egypt Coal Mine opened. Located in Chatham County (in a section that is now part of Lee County)

Sean Branstetter was 22 years old. He enters the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he learns military and civil engineering. He will graduate just in time for the Civil War.

1860’s NC Other mines in the area: Egypt, Carolina and McIver mines around Cumnock; the Taylor Slope, the Gulf and Deep River mines of Gulf; the Black Diamond and Gardner mines of Carbonton; the Jones Coal Pit and Haw Branch mines near the House in the Horseshoe.
The Deep River Coal Field is really removed from the Appalachian Region Coal Fields. There are a few other coal fields in this pic that are also remote – The Valley Fields, Farmville Field and Richmond Fields.
1863 NC The Western Railroad was a railroad in North Carolina connecting Fayetteville to the coal fields of Egypt (WRR). In 1879 the railroad was renamed Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway.
1866 NC

Recently discharged from his obligation to the US Army, he purchases the Carolina Aggregates which has a series of mines, pits etc. along the Raleigh & Augusta Air-Line Railroad between Sandford and Aberdeen. His wife, Khristina Lugoff was of Russian birth and wealthy (her brother titled himself a ‘Count’ but Lugoff is not listed). The two of them start to invest this wealth – Carolina Aggregates being the first step.

  • Carolina Aggregates

Sean Branstetter was 32 years old. His wife Khristina Lugoff was 10 years younger at 22 years old.

1869 NC

Shaughn Branstetter born to Sean Branstetter and Khristina Lugoff in Raleigh, NC. Sean Branstetter and family leave Raleigh, NC to live in Aberdeen, NC to expand his his business. His purchase of North Carolina Minerals and Aggregates to mine the resources in the area led to him starting a company to supply stone for Brownstone buildings.


The quarry that supplies his Brownstone will be located out from Aberdeen – even in 1869 he is making plans. In fact, he changes the name of North Carolina Minerals and Aggregates to Carolina Minerals and Materials – as stated below, there were much, much more than just aggregates to move by rail.

Sean was 35 and Khristina was 25


  • Carolina Minerals and Materials
  • Resources

  • Clay and Gravel – some local use probably not beyond Camden and Cheraw .. any further would be sourced locally
  • Kaolin – also called china clay, soft white clay that is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of china and porcelain and is widely used in the making of paper, rubber, paint, and many other products.
  • Ilmenite, (iron titanium oxide) Rutile (titanium dioxide) – is blended and processed to create titanium dioxide used in the production of paints (household, industrial and automotive etc.) as it reflects the sun’s harmful UV rays and protects paint from peeling. Titanium dioxide is also an important ingredient in the manufacturing of sunscreen, cosmetics, plastics, ink, paper, toothpaste and some foods such as flour and icing sugar to improve their brightness. Ilmenite is the most important ore of titanium.
  • Magnetite – a rock mineral and one of the main iron ores. It is one of the oxides of iron, and is ferrimagnetic; it is attracted to a magnet and can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet itself (ancient Loadstone). It is the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth.
  • Monazite – a reddish-brown phosphate mineral containing rare-earth metals. Monazite is an important ore for thorium, lanthanum, and cerium. In the 1880’s Monazite sand was adopted as the thorium source.
  • Zircon – used in the ceramics industry due to zircon’s ability to impart opacity, (whiteness and brightness) and to create glazes on products such as tiles, sanitary-ware (baths, sinks and toilets) and crockery.
1870 NC Egypt Coal Mine closed due to flooding along the Deep River
1871 NC The Chatham Railroad was reorganized as the Raleigh & Augusta Air-Line Railroad (R&AAL). It never progressed past the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, where it met the Palmetto Railroad.  The Raleigh and Gaston Railroad controlled the Raleigh and Augusta Air-Line Railroad, owning most of its stock. By this time, the Raleigh and Augusta stretched from Raleigh, North Carolina, toward Hamlet, North Carolina.

Need track from Sandford, NC. up into the Deep River Coal Field. That will probably be the Western Railroad.

1873 NC The Raleigh and Gaston, and Raleigh and Augusta both fell on hard times during the Panic of 1873, and John M. Robinson, president of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, acquired financial control of both carriers.


In my Alternate History, Mr. John M. Robinson sells to Carolina Minerals and Materials, the Hamlet, NC and Sanford, NC section of the Raleigh & Augusta Air-Line Railroad . The railroad was named for the connecting towns – the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad. This will boost his Carolina Minerals and Materials business which now has access to the railroad for shipping

The Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad took control of the section between Sandford, NC and Raleigh, NC.

  • Carolina Minerals and Materials
    • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad

Sean is 39, Khristina 29 and Shaughn is 4. A young family.

1874-1875 SC

Sean Branstetter opened the Branstetter Brownstone Quarry specializing in the Pee Dee Brownstone. A rail line to transport the stone was built the 60-miles between Pee Dee and Aberdeen and called the Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway. Initially the stone was moved by heavy freight wagons from Aberdeen until the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad reached the town. The Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway becomes a subsidiary of the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad

With the proliferating businesses Sean Branstetter creates a holding company, Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing to oversee this new “Empire”

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
1877 NC

The R&AAL, which was controlled by the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Company, had reached the North Carolina-South Carolina state line at Hamlet.

The old Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad‘s Hamlet-Sandford section now the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad had reached the North Carolina-South Carolina state line at Hamlet.

1879 NC The Western Railroad and the Mt. Airy and Ore Knob Railroad (MA&OK RR) were merged into the new Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway (CF&YVR).
1880 NC

The Camden and Cheraw Railway is formed. (a few years down the road the Palmetto run into Cheraw, SC. That is about 60 mi from Camden so seems like a good direction for the C&NW)

Sean Branstetter is 46, Khristina 36 and Shaughn 11. When not in school Sean is often with his father learning the business

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway

  • Resources

  • Gold -maybe .. mines are fairly close
  • Clay and Gravel – some local use probably not beyond Camden and Cheraw .. any further would be sourced locally
  • Shale – is commercially important. It is used to make brick, pottery, tile, and Portland cement.
  • Kaolin – also called china clay, soft white clay that is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of china and porcelain and is widely used in the making of paper, rubber, paint, and many other products.
  • Gray Quartz – features a mid-tone gray background and subtle speckles for added dimension. Used for floors, bathrooms, and accent walls throughout homes and commercial properties.
  • Ilmenite, (iron titanium oxide) Rutile (titanium dioxide) – is blended and processed to create titanium dioxide used in the production of paints (household, industrial and automotive etc.) as it reflects the sun’s harmful UV rays and protects paint from peeling. Titanium dioxide is also an important ingredient in the manufacturing of sunscreen, cosmetics, plastics, ink, paper, toothpaste and some foods such as flour and icing sugar to improve their brightness. Ilmenite is the most important ore of titanium.
  • Magnetite – a rock mineral and one of the main iron ores. It is one of the oxides of iron, and is ferrimagnetic; it is attracted to a magnet and can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet itself (ancient Loadstone). It is the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth.
  • Monazite – a reddish-brown phosphate mineral containing rare-earth metals. Monazite is an important ore for thorium, lanthanum, and cerium. In the 1880’s Monazite sand was adopted as the thorium source.
  • Zircon – used in the ceramics industry due to zircon’s ability to impart opacity, (whiteness and brightness) and to create glazes on products such as tiles, sanitary-ware (baths, sinks and toilets) and crockery.
  • Iron – obvious .. if Iron Oxide then could be used for red paint locally
  • Titanium – Titanium oxide (TiO2) is used as a pigment to create white paint and accounts for the largest use of the element.
Bet. 1885-1887 SC, NC Between 1885 and 1887, the Palmetto Railroad had built southward from Hamlet, North Carolina, on the Seaboard main line, to Cheraw, South Carolina where it connected with the Cheraw and Darlington Railroad and the Camden and Cheraw Railway. That same year (1887) the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad leased the Palmetto Railroad line. In 1895, the company was reorganized due to financial difficulties and renamed the Palmetto Railway. In 1900, the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad and the Palmetto Railway became part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway.

I just realized what I read above .. “Between 1885 and 1887, the Palmetto Railroad had built southeard from Hamlet, North Carolina, on the main line, to Cheraw, South Carolina.” .. ummm .. ok .. but here’s the THING. It is 19.7 miles down the highway from Hamlet to Cheraw – looking at the route on Google Maps the railway route would have been even a bit shorter. It DID NOT take two years to do that. Whoever wrote this may have simply not known WHEN the line was built and that was just two dates bracketing a guess.

Sean Branstetter is now 51-54, Khristina 41-44 and Shaughn is 16-19 at which time he leaves for MIT

1888 SC

The Wilson & Lake Railroad was built by Thomas Wilson, a lumber magnate, to bring lumber to his mill at what was then known as Wilson’s Mill on the Central Railroad of SC (now the CSX line from Wilson to Lane, SC). The first section was built from Wilson, SC, to Lane in 1888. (Shown here in red).

The “Wilson & Lake” was really the “Wilson and Summerton“. Summerton is South of Sumter some 20mi or so. I wanted to link Wilson with Lake to simplify my ‘alternate history’.

1889 NC Egypt Coal Mine reopened. Mine enters boom years
1890 SC

The Wilson & Lake Railroad was extended into Sumter and renamed the Sumter, Wilson and Lake Railroad.

1891 NC

The Deep River Coal Mine opened

I wanted to locate my mine in the Deep River area but decided to make some changes to reality to make that happen. The Deep River coal field is

… an area of Triassic rocks 36 miles long and from 5 to 14 miles wide that contains the only commercially important beds of coal in North Carolina. These beds crop out along the Deep River and underlie parts of Chatham, Lee, and Moore Counties near the geographic center of the State” 1

I created a separate coal field West of the Deep River Coal Field .. since it has “High Falls” in the middle I will call it that .. “The High Falls Coal Field”. On an aside the ‘imagined’ Deep River Coal Field is just that .. imagined. If my violation of reality disturbs the reader then feel free to close the page and seek reality elsewhere! I am also going to .. while I am violating reality .. increase the vertical for this area .. think more like the Appalachians to the North (if I am going to violate reality, I might as well go all out!

The mine, the Deep River Coal Mine is located at High Falls – coincidently in the High Falls Coal Field of North Carolina.

Sean is now 57, Khristina 47 and Shaughn 22. He has completed his Mining Education at MIT and returns home as a partner with his father.

1892 NC

The Deep River Coal & Coke is chartered by Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing. This 18″ Narrow Gauge runs from the mine to a tipple to transfer coal to the DRRR (future)

There are various people selling On18 engines and cars. It makes some sense if we use this to move unwashed coal to the coal washer/tipple. I can see mostly small hoppers with some support equipment such as track maintenance, passenger cars for workers etc.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway

Sean is now 58, Khristina 48 and Shaughn 23.

1894 NC

The Deep River Railroad is charted. This is a 30″ gauge line using equipment from a mine in South America owned by Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing. DRC&C is reorganized as Deep River Mining

I will note that track, equipment etc. including cars and locomotives were purchased en masse from a mining company in South America that went bust. This explains in part the use of a non-standard 30″ gauge.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway

Sean is now 59, Khristina 49 and Shaughn 24.

1895 SC In 1895, the Seaboard took control of the Palmetto Railway and extended the tracks to Columbia
1895 NC The Charleston, Sumter & Northern Railroad was sold off in 1895.
– The section from St. Paul to Sumter was sold to the W & S.

The section from Sumter to Bennettsville and Gibson was sold to Carolina Minerals and Materials. This became the Sumter and Gibson Railroad.

Gibson is just a short hop to Hamlet and Bennettsville about the same distance to Cheraw. This would make a lot of sense as Seaboard has their grubby paws on the Palmetto Railway from Hamlet down to Cheraw. Leasing that section of track from Seaboard Air Line Railway works to connect the Camden and Cheraw Railway to the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad .. until someone gets their nickers in a twist. A railway from Gibson to Hamlet would all bypass of the Palmetto lease if necessary. Another line from Cheraw over to Bennettsville would free the railroad from any threats of stopping traffic on the Palmetto section.


Note to self: Need to locate aggregates on this piece of line somewhere North. Find where it makes sense to mine aggregates a bit away from the line .. and have it delivered by a narrow gauge railroad. The HVCC (Hill Valley Coke Company) would be a subsidiary of the LC&NRR. With that .. the HVA (Hill Valley Aggregates) could also be a subsidiary of the LC&NRR and use some of the same track as the HVCC.

Reality: Since I wanted the LC&N to own the Sumter to Bennettsville and Gibson route I needed to modify the history here. I just completely took the ACL out of the picture.

The ACL formed the Charleston & Northern in 1895 for the sole purpose of buying the Charleston, Sumter & Northern Railroad which entered receivership in 1892. The ACL then broke the line up and assigned parts to several member companies or sold the lines to others. The section from Sumter to Darlington was assigned to the Manchester and Augusta Railroad and The section from Darlington to Bennettsville and Gibson was assigned to the Cheraw & Darlington.

The Carolina Minerals and Materials never existed except in what people laughingly call my mind.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Sumter and Gibson Railroad
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway
1899 NC The Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway was sold to the Southern Railway where it was reorganized as the Atlantic and Yadkin Railway. The newly created Atlantic and Yadkin then sold back the southern half of its lines from Sanford, North Carolina, to Wilmington to the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad (W&R), which was later reorganized as the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The northern half remained a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Railway
1899 SC

In 1899, the W & S was renamed the North Western Railroad of SC. This name had actually been used by the ACL in 1889 when it planned to build from Sumter to Camden, but it had not acted on the plan.

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad built through Lugoff in 1899 from Camden to Columbia. Lugoff was named for Count Lugoff (Loo’goff), a Russian engineer, who helped build the Seaboard Air Line Railway in 1899. Lugoff is one of many stations in Kershaw County for the Seaboard Railway.

1900 SC

Thomas Wilson reached an agreement with Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing the ACL, and with ACL who backed extending the line to Camden. Construction started in 1900 and the line was opened in 1901. The leg from Sumter to Lake was sold back to Thomas Wilson for cash and stock in BMM and the line was renamed the Camden and Sumter Railroad.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Sumter and Gibson Railroad
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway
    • Camden and Sumter Railroad
1900 NC The Wilmington and Waldon Railroad merged into the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
1902 NC The Egypt Coal Mine is closed. The mine ran continuously until 1902 after multiple, sizable gas explosions Egypt Coal Company was bankrupt, forcing the mine’s closure

Egypt Coal Co. is acquired by Carolina Coal and Aggregates.

In the ‘real world’ in 1915, the Norfolk Southern Railroad obtained the property and ran the mine under the name of Cumnock Coal Company, running until May 27, 1925 when a gas explosion killed 74 miners.The mine finally closed in 1929. That history .. I will simply ignore.

1904 SC

Shaughn Branstetter, is the cousin of Count Lugoff, the Russian engineer working for SAL who the Whistle Stop was named for in 1899. Shaughn’s father Sean Brawnsetter married the Count’s aunt, Khristina.

A large deposit of Sericite was found at Lugoff in 1902. Sericite is a white clay mineral similar in appearance to kaolin and is an important ingredient used by brick and paint industries. This prompted the creation of Branstetter-Lugoff Clays and Minerals. This later lead to interest in acquisition of a shale mine outside Cheraw (also used in brick making). With ownership of the Camden and Cheraw Railway and a short extension from Camden to Lugoff allowed that resource to be added.

Sean is now 70, Khristina 60 and Shaughn 35 who takes over daily operation of the business. Sean goes into semi-retirement.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Branstetter-Lugoff Clays and Minerals
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Sumter and Gibson Railroad
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Camden and Cheraw Railway
    • Camden and Sumter Railroad
1906 SC

The Camden and Cheraw Railway is merged with the Camden and Sumter Railway and the Sumter and Gibson Railroad as the Lugoff, Camden and Northern Railroad. The Hamlet and Sandford Railroad along with the Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway remain separated by the old Palmetto Cheraw-Hamlet section (leased travel).

The Branstetter-Lugoff Clays and Minerals acquires Carolina Coal and Aggregates and merge the two companies as Lugoff and Camden Minerals

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Branstetter-Lugoff Clays and Minerals
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
      • Hamlet and Sandford Railroad
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Lugoff, Camden & Northern Railroad
      • Camden-Cheraw Division
      • Sumter-Gibson Division
      • Camden-Sumter Division
      • Hamlet and Sandford Division
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
1908 NC

BMM finally got it’s waterfowl all aligned and build the 16 mile connecting line between Gibson and Hamlet . This would connect the upper and lower sections via the Sumter-Gibson route

This map was probably the easiest yet as I simply traced the current track running between Gibson and Hamlet!

1909 NC

With the completion of the Gibson to Hamlet section, it and the Hamlet and Sandford Railroad were merged into the Lugoff, Camden and Northern Railroad. The Pee Dee Railway now a subsidiary of the LC&N’s Hamlet and Sandford Section.

With the merging of the railroads the Branstetter-Lugoff Clays and Materials was merged into the Carolina Minerals and Materials

I have not yet added the Deep River Coke & Coal and the Deep River Railroad to the map. I have ‘currently’ (in quotes means subject to change without warning) the Deep River Coke & Coal chartered in 1892 and the Deep River Railroad chartered in 1894. I may move the dates of charter up to 1910 as the DRRR needs someone to deliver to. Then again there were other railroads serving the Deep River Coal Fields so there is that.

  • Branstetter Mining and Manufacturing
    • Branstetter Brownstone Quarry
    • Carolina Minerals and Materials
    • Deep River Railroad
      • Deep River Coal & Coke
    • Lugoff, Camden & Northern Railroad
      • Camden-Cheraw Division
      • Sumter-Gibson Division
      • Camden-Sumter Division
      • Hamlet and Sandford Division
        • Pee Dee & Aberdeen Railway
Source
  1. Geology of the Deep River Coal Field North Carolina, by John A. Reinemund, Geological Survey Professional Paper 246, Page 9[]

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