Why is everything in this city named after a Swamp Rabbit?

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Old photo of the Swamp Rabbit Train
Swamp Rabbit Train | Image from Greenville County Library System

Hey there, Greenville. 👋 Ana here. If you’re new to our city (or even born + raised here, like me), you may have wondered what GVL’s obsession is with a little creature known as the Swamp Rabbit. Everything from our hockey team to restaurants + breweries to a new aerial adventure park seems to be named after this cotton tailed creature. But I promise you, it didn’t always used to be like this.

Ten years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find anything in this city named for the Sylvilagus aquaticus. Easy for you to say. That’s because in 2009 the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail first opened to our community + has continued to develop into the 22-mile multi-use greenway system we all know and love today. Many of the other “Swamp Rabbits” you’ll find around our city are due to the popularity + proximity of the trail.

Ok, got it. So why was this recreational path named the “Swamp Rabbit Trail” in the first place? The SRT follows along the historic rail bed of the Greenville + Northern Railway popularly nicknamed “the Swamp Rabbit.”

Old photo of the Swamp Rabbit Train
Swamp Rabbit Train | Image from Greenville County Library System

Almost prophetically, Charles David, a journalist for The Greenville News wrote about the railroad in the 1920s, “You may name your boy Percival, Algernon, or Montmoressi, but if some chap at school dubs him ‘Sorrel Top,’ ‘Bully,’ or ‘Buster,’ the nickname will stick and his real name [be] forgotten. So it has been with this little railroad . . . . [‘The Swamp Rabbit’ name] continues to the exclusion of the longer and higher sounding one.”

Despite lofty ambitions, this short railway, part of the greater Carolina, Knoxville & Western Railroad (CK&W), was actually only slightly longer than the current Swamp Rabbit Trail at 23 miles. Funding ran out for the project in 1899 + a plan to revitalize the effort in 1907 also failed. Throughout its history, the Swamp Rabbit rarely carried passengers and was mostly used to haul lumber and later agricultural products and chemicals from Greenville to around the Marietta area.

So, hop along with your day + share this history with some bunny in Greenville who needs to know. 🐰