Saturday morning we wanted to get out of the house for a bit. So, we had a big breakfast, loaded everyone into the car, and headed west.
Laura’s mother had never seen Clemson, so that was going to be one of our stops. I also had a potential ghost town I wanted to check out. Laura’s desires were simple – she wanted a hamburger somewhere. The only problem was that we had a time limit. Laura and I had to be back for a dinner party that evening.
We pretty much stuck to our plan. We drove straight to Clemson and drove around the campus. We also drove through the state botanical garden. There didn’t appear to be much in bloom, so we didn’t stop and get out.
After touring Clemson, we headed south on Highway 76 until we got to the Old Stone Church. Last time I was here there was a maintenance man on duty and he let me into the church. No such luck this time. The place was locked up and I could only take photos from the outside.
From the Old Stone Church we continued west, leaving Clemson and putting ourselves on the road to Westminster. We cruised through the town and continued westward. I had a destination in mind.
A couple of years ago Alan and I paddled the Tugaloo River with the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup. Highway 123 has some interesting views of that stretch of the river, and there is an old bridge now used as a fishing pier. I figured it might be an interesting bit of scenery.
We found the old bridge, and I got out and took a couple of photos. It was a beautiful day, but very windy. There were lots of whitecaps out on the lake.
We crossed the river into Georgia just to say we had been there, then backtracked a bit. Just before reaching the river/lake one comes to the community of Old Madison. I had it on my list as a potential ghost town. There is an old school that obviously served several other functions after it ceased being a school…
There are a couple of defunct stores near the lake, but there is an active church and congregation. Laura declared that there was too much activity to really classify this as a ghost town. As for me, I think there might potential there.
More intriguing, though is the town of “New” Madison. It’s just over the ridge from the present location along the New Madison Road. We decided to check it out.
The road did wind over the hill, then crossed the railroad on a rickety wooden bridge that scared Laura and her mom. Finally, we reached the old post office for “New” Madison. If anything, New Madison is more of a ghost town than Old Madison. There were a couple of farm houses and the old post office, but that was about it. I think there had been a depot at one time, but there was no sign of it.
Old Madison was named for Fort Madison. It wasn’t really a fort, but a protective block house that served as refuge for early settlers from Indian incursions.
Most of the village residents were involved with lumber production, so when the railroad moved a couple of miles to North, the town went with it, and so New Madison was born. Highway 123 came along in the early 20th Century, roughly following the old railroad bed, and Old Madison gained new life, eclipsing New Madison.
I couldn’t convince Laura and her mom to trek back across the wooden bridge, so we had to find another route. The road we chose led back to River Road along the Tugaloo River. Along that route I spotted the old Tugaloo Presbyterian Church. I would have loved to have explored it, but it was locked away behind chain link and barbed wire.
By this time it was lunch time. Laura’s goal was to find a hamburger, but the only place was Hardees in Westminster. It was a bit weird, but the burgers were OK.
From Westminster we took Highway 11 up along the foothills through Walhala and on up through lake country. We stopped briefly at Keowee State Park to check out the canoe and kayak launch site.
The launch site looks nice, but I’m not sure how it would be kayaking next to sand traps and a golf hole.
Finally, we took a pause at Table Rock. I pulled off the road to catch this panorama.
It was a nice outing, but now I want to get back out to Madison. Is it a ghost town? Perhaps. I think more investigation is needed.