Though technically one of the oldest settlements in South Carolina —founded by a Prussian immigrant in 1734—little remains of Branchville’s distant past. Today the burg is most well-known for being the first railroad junction in history.
Originally on the Charleston-Hamburg line—itself the first scheduled train in the U.S.—Branchville became a junction in 1838 when a line from Columbia  was completed. The heyday was brief, however, as General Sherman’s men tore up the rail lines at war’s end.
Though the original, historic depot was heavily damaged by fire in the 1990s, an extensive renovation has been done. The depot currently houses the cute and very attractively-done Branchville Railroad Museum and Shrine (7204 Freedom Rd., 803/274-8820, Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Sun. 2–5 p.m., free), which contains many original artifacts from the town’s glory days, including a replica of “The Best Friend of Charleston” steam locomotive.
Every September brings the very popular Raylrode Daze festival honoring the area’s contribution to railroad lore, complete with mock gunfights, can-can girls, a pet show, a street dance, and even a “Kangaroo Court” for attendees not deemed to be in enough trainspotting spirit.