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Easley Embraces Its Railroad Roots to Create a Dynamic Downtown

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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The trains running along Main Street in downtown Easley are a rolling reminder of the city’s humble beginnings as a freight line depot. Unabashedly proud of its transportation hub legacy, Easley has adopted the railroad as its unofficial mascot.

It was Confederate General William King Easley who persuaded the state to establish the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railway between Easley and Oolenoy Gap by way of Pickens. As soon as the tracks were constructed, surveyors began laying out streets for the new town. Named after its native son, Easley was chartered in 1873.

The railroad transformed Easley into a thriving textile town. Up until 2013, the train hauled commodities like food products, textiles and automobile parts between the two Upstate communities. Local residents affectionately dubbed it the “Pickens Doodle” as it was unable to be turned around and had to run backward, resembling a doodlebug.

Today, one of the city’s most popular attractions is the 7.5-mile Doodle Trail, a paved recreational path built along the route of the 19th-century railroad.

Since the rail trail opened in 2015, the city has claimed the train as its brand, featuring it prominently on its website and throughout the downtown district. Businesses like The Pint Station, a craft beer taproom and wine bar on Main Street, have capitalized on the railroad theme.

Trains on Main, a scavenger hunt of sorts, offers visitors the opportunity to explore the historic downtown as they search for bronze train cars placed near city landmarks. A map to the train engine and cars can be found on the city’s website under Community Happenings.

But the town, which serves as a bedroom community for Greenville, offers much more than just railroad nostalgia. Along with the rail trail, Easley has eight parks, including JB Owens Park, host of the Big League Baseball World Series from 2001-2016. It now serves as home to the Senior League Baseball World Series.

Easley’s recreational amenities, which include a disc golf course, gymnasium, sand volleyball, and tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, have become a centerpiece of the city. In late 2019, Easley will open another park with 2.5 miles of natural walking trails.

The city also has invested in beautifying the downtown district with several attractive parks and gathering spots. Easley Park on Pendleton Street features swings and a fountain, and Old Market Square also has swings, along with a historic clock tower and a terraced amphitheater that serves as a venue for concerts and other community events.

Another downtown highlight is the Easley Farmers Market on North First Street. Open Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings in season, it features baked goods, crafts, live music and plenty of fresh-from-the-field produce. Events like the chili cook-off, pie contest and holiday market are held regularly.

A number of fun shops, restaurants and bars are also luring residents and visitors to the burgeoning downtown. Some, like Poor Richard’s Booksellers, have been around for decades; others, like Plum Home Decor & Gift Boutique, are new to the scene.

While the city has focused on developing its recreational amenities, there’s so much more to enjoy in Easley.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.