As I read about the Carolina Southern Railroad in default the other day, I couldn’t help but wonder what is going to happen to all the landmarks, tracks and hard work that has gone into keeping this railroad working. Living in a community just off U.S. 701 in Loris, we do miss the daily trains that used to slowly rumble past our neighborhood.
Being a “transplant” from the north, one of the biggest things I miss is a safe place to ride a bike. if you should try to ride on U.S. 701, you take your life into your own hands, as there are no shoulders, no place to ride safely with the traffic. Once out of the community, it is either north on U.S. 701, or south on U.S. 701. No safe way to take a ride up into downtown Loris, or through old town Conway.
Why not convert the old railway to a “rail trail”? This would allow a hike or bike ride from up in North Carolina to Conway and Myrtle Beach. Think of the stops along the way, the old rail depot in Conway, lunch in Loris, or jump on it wherever you want and take a bike ride to Myrtle Beach, without the fear of getting run over by a speeding car or truck.
In Maryland, there are several of these, both through and around the metro areas of Baltimore, as well as in the country, running along slowly moving rivers, through nice shaded forests, and along the way there are plenty of places to stop and shop, rest, grab a bite to eat, or just enjoy the day either walking or biking.
On the Western Maryland rail trail, there are places along the way that have been built just because the trail gets so much use. Snowball stands, places that house restrooms, and drinks. Myrtle Beach is a tourism spot; why not for the bikers that visit? Instead of riding inside the crowded city, there would be a safe haven for easy riding. Just about no hills; railroads were built so to be as level as they could be. If there are any hills, they are very gentle, and not challenging, so everyone, young and old alike could enjoy an easy ride. A place where you could spend an hour, or really gear it up and make a day (maybe a weekend) going from end to end.
I know this is probably just wishful thinking, as there seems to be no money around for such projects, but I can remember the amount of joy it brought so many people up north, if not for the challenge of riding from end to end, it was just a nice way for a family to spend some time together, doing something healthy, and getting out and enjoying nature, without the scares of riding on a crowded road or city street. Seems so many out of money railroads have turned into these rail trails, and the few I have been on are very nice.
I think it would bring some tourism from the beach, as people would discover the rich history of Conway, Loris and Tabor City. And isn’t that what drives our economy?
The writer lives in Loris.