South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Owings Depot — Owings, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Laurens County  |  Owings Depot

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Owings Depot

The unincorporated community of Owings in Laurens County was originally called Rapley in honor of Francis Rapley Owings, a farmer and merchant who donated the land and timber needed for a local depot. The depot opened in 1886, but Owings had opened a general store two decades earlier, in 1873. The general store also housed the post office.

Owings Depot

Tom Taylor of Greenville, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Since there was already an Owings in South Carolina at the time, the community first adopted Rapley’s middle name instead of his surname. (There is also some indication that Owings went by his middle name rather than his first name.) After the construction of the depot, however, the area was renamed Owings Station and later shortened to Owings. We are seeking more information on the details of this transition.

Owings Train Depot

Tom Taylor of Greenville, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The depot in Owings was built for the Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad. When the station opened, it was a boon to local merchants and especially to farmers, who relied on the train to both receive supplies and ship their harvests. The service was not without problems however. Twice in 1913, trains derailed at Owings, and one of the incidents resulted in a significant coal spill near the depot.

Francis Rapley Owings was a descendant of Richard Owings, III, the first European settler in the area; Richard and his family arrived from Owings Mills, Maryland in 1757, after having received in 1751 a grant for 150 acres on either side of Raeburn’s Creek.

Owings was a Confederate veteran who served in Company A of the Sixth South Carolina Calvary. His general store was located on what is today known as North Old Laurens Road. Owings also served as vice president of the Bank of Owings, which he helped found.

The community of Owings is closely associated with the community of Gray Court. The two areas share a school that is listed in the National Register, the Gray Court-Owings School.

We would like to make this entry better. Do you have information about Owings or the Owings Depot that you can share? If so, please send it to the South Carolina Picture Project. Thank you!

Owings Depot Info

Address: South Carolina Highway 14, Owings, SC 29645
GPS Coordinates: 34.631110,-82.133366

Owings Depot Map

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5 Comments about Owings Depot

Deena Medlin says:
May 15th, 2019 at 5:00 pm

This is all very informative and interesting to read. Thank you all! About the train mural – Thanks to Modern Woodmen of America and several local volunteers, the refresh was started a couple of years go, but due to illness, wasn’t finished. I have a few volunteers willing to help me finish what we started!

SCIWAY says:
February 15th, 2018 at 2:51 am

Wow, Clay! Everything you wrote was thrilling to read about Owings. We did not realize it was originally called Owens or that information about the churches alternating, thank you so much for sharing this!

Clay Owens says:
February 14th, 2018 at 12:18 pm

My father served as minister at the Methodist church in Owings in the mid 1960s. At a funeral for some of the Owings family, a relative from Maryland told him that he had the original land grant and at that time the family name was spelled Owens. I remember the old general store being open then and having hoop cheese to cut you off a piece, weigh it, and sell it to you. The only other businesses at that time was Tucker’s store and the Owings feed store.
During that time, the state of South Carolina left Owings off the official give away state maps and caused quite an uproar from the few people who lived there. The Post Office of Owings had consolidated into the one in Gray Court. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Owings had so few people that they took turns going over to the other church so each could have a good crowd on alternating Sundays and special events.

SCIWAY says:
December 8th, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Thank you for that great information, Tom!

Tom Taylor says:
December 8th, 2016 at 9:30 am

The murals on the side of the old Owings Depot were originally painted by the late artist Skip Shelton. They were done in the 1980s, and have been “refreshed” since then.


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