Welcome to Camden Tower Courtyard. This space and the warehouses you see along the walkway are a part of the William Aiken House and Associated Railroad Structures National Historic Landmark. This landmark includes the William Aiken House, located at 456 King Street, Camden Depot, Deans Warehouse, the South Carolina Railroad Warehouse located across Ann Street, Line Street Car and Carpenter Shops, and the Tower Passenger Depot. These structures are nationally important because of their role in the development of the railroad industry in the United States.
The landmark is named for William Aiken,Sr., who provided both men and money to help establish the South Carolina Canal & Rail Company in 1827. He was an outspoken proponent of the railroad's economic and social benefits to the City, and was a member of a special committee appointed by the Chamber of Commerce to"inquire into the cost, revenue, and advantages of a rail road communication between the City of Charleston and the Towns of Hamburg and Augusta."
At the far end of this courtyard are two Gothic Revival-style towers that flanked the entrance to Camden Depot. Behind you is the two-story Tower Passenger Depot. It too, was construicted in the Gothic Revival style in the 1850s. Because of its design, trains had to back into the building to unload passengers. Needless to say, this inconvenient arrangement caused the railroad to convert the terminal to a freight warehouse in 1852.
More information about Camden Depot and the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company is presented at several locations along the courtyard.
An alternate version of the text is available at the Visitors Center.
"On a Rail Road, a traveler may enjoy all the ease, convience, and safety, afforded by the best steam boats, with equal celerity and less motion."
* Report of a Special Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, 1828*
(Maps courtesy of the Library of Congress, Photograph courtesy of the Charleston Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society )