The Ghost Towns of Lake Marion

Ferguson 2

Sometime last year I came across an article about the town of Ferguson, South Carolina. The defunct town is now submerged under Lake Marion. All that remains are some foundations and the old lumber kiln that had been part of the Santee Cypress Lumber Company. While looking for information about the old town, I also came across the location of the old Church of the Epiphany on Church Island. The “Rocks Cemetery” which had been associated with the church is still located on the island. Since these two were fairly close, it seemed that this would be an excellent paddling trip. So, this second Saturday of April, the explorers from Lowcountry Unfiltered decided to take it on.

Friday night I’d had an excellent dinner with Dwight and family, and had planned to spend the night in Santee. Once again, Santee struck me as a particularly seedy little town. Right at the Highway 301 exit from I-26 are billboards advertising some big adult book/video store. At the entrance to Santee are two adult “gentleman’s clubs” right across from each other. There were additional adult video places and what looked like defunct clubs lining the way in. Another active club was just down from the motel where I was staying. It looks like this was a place were guys came to fish and play golf during the day, then get other entertainment in the evenings. Add to that the fact that the main commerce, the Santee Factory Outlet Stores, had closed up and become a ghost town, and the entire effect was of one of decay.

Despite the creepiness, I got a good night’s sleep and was up early the next morning. I was supposed to meet Alan at Bell’s Marina in Eutaw Springs for breakfast, but I had a bit of time. I decided to check our proposed access points.

This would be a point-to-point trip with different put-in and take-out locations. The plan was to paddle from Ferguson Landing across to Ferguson Island to check out the ruins there. Then we would skirt along the interior of several islands, with a lunch stop at the “Hook” at Sixteen Island. After that we cross about two miles of open water to Church Island, then swing around to Spiers Landing for the take-out. Total trip would be about 8 miles, give or take a bit.

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