The Athens of Greenville

TR Sign

Usually, when someone utters the phrase, “The Athens of ….” whatever region, they mean that the region is a center of enlightenment and learning. While this particular saga does end with a school, the story begins with civic jealousy.

Greenville County did, in fact, have its own town named Athens for a short while. I first heard about the town from Dot Bishop at the Travelers Rest History Museum. I made a note to add it to my list of ghost towns until I could do a bit more research on it, and see if I could find any remnants of the old town. That time has finally come, and here’s what I found… Continue reading “The Athens of Greenville”

The Lost Counties of South Carolina

1895 Map of South Carolina
1895 Map of South Carolina

I grew up in the southwestern part of Enoree County, South Carolina…

At least, that’s how my biography might have started, if the people of Woodruff had their way back in 1913. Enoree County would have been created from parts of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Laurens Counties, with the county seat in the town of Woodruff. I came across a reference to this mythical county while doing research on another topic on the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site.

Woodruff Wants to Be County Seat

I haven’t been able to relocate the original article (should have bookmarked it right then and there) but it gave more specific boundaries for the new county. At first I thought it might be cool to find these boundaries in Google Earth and see which areas would be encompassed by the new county. As I dug deeper, I found that this wasn’t an isolated proposal, and was part of a much larger story, leading me to the discovery of “new county fever” that broke out around the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading “The Lost Counties of South Carolina”

Pathfinders and Map Makers – Part One

Pathfinder with Trailer

It was early 20th Century and cars were just coming into their own. However, the roads weren’t keeping up. Most were still dirt tracks at the best of times, and terrible mud pits at others. A cross-country trek was an adventure, and only for those with the means to obtain and maintain an automobile. Greater buy-in was needed from the general public so that bond initiatives and legislation could be passed. Thus was born the age of the Pathfinders, adventurous souls who sought out the best routes, laid out the paths for early highway systems, and brought to the public awareness of the need for good roads. Continue reading “Pathfinders and Map Makers – Part One”

In Search of Good Roads for South Carolina

NC Good Roads, Johnson County, circa 1909

The recent flooding in the mid-state has pointed out some of the glaring problems with South Carolina’s infrastructure. Even before the floods, the issue of deteriorating roads has been foremost, with discussion about how to fund road repairs. This isn’t a new problem, though. The question about how to develop and maintain adequate infrastructure is not a “one and done” proposition. First there was the King’s Road and Great Wagon Road, then in the 1820s it was the development of the Santee Canal and the State Road. The development, maintenance, and funding of an adequate means of transportation was, and always will continue to be an issue.

In the last post I made a few comments about the roads around Greenville – basically trails that connected town to town. The condition of those roads was often appalling. This was true for the entire country around the turn of 20th century. The automobile was just taking off, but getting anywhere proved to be a challenge. Thus, the Good Roads Movement was born. Continue reading “In Search of Good Roads for South Carolina”

The Streets of Greenville

Greenville Map 1948

My late father-in-law had a problem with Greenville. He grew up in the wilds of Idaho along the Salmon River. However, he spent most of his adult life in large western cities, namely Los Angeles, where the streets are laid out in neat, tidy grids. Greenville’s streets always left him bewildered.

Whenever he gave me trouble about my hometown, I would reply that it makes perfect sense – Laurens Road goes to Laurens, Augusta Road goes to Augusta, etc. While that’s true, there are lots of other…questionable routes, and I could see how someone not from here would be very confused. Greenville’s streets are based on an early 19th Century design, and that pattern STILL influences our traffic. Continue reading “The Streets of Greenville”

Spirit of 45 Military Vehicles on the Bankhead Highway

MVPA Convoy Desaturated

There’s a reason I named this blog RandomConnections. The URL RandomThoughts was taken…but that’s beside the point. Time and time again the idea of “random connections” has proved itself to be the more appropriate title, as tenuous threads appear that seem to bind disparate ideas together. Such was the case this past week.

I got a forwarded e-mail from my brother, Stephen, with a note that a historical convoy would be passing through our area. The convoy would feature vintage military vehicles, and I thought it would be a cool photo opportunity. Little did I realize how closely this event would tie right into my recent research and explorations. Continue reading “Spirit of 45 Military Vehicles on the Bankhead Highway”

The Journey Home from Olanta

South Lynchburg Store Sepia

It had been a long day. I had gotten up early and driven down to Orangeburg, then followed the Tobacco Trail along US Highway 301 through Orangeburg and Clarendon Counties. I had crossed over into Florence County into the town of Olanta. I thought about pushing on to the town of Florence, but when I checked my GPS I saw that it was going to take several hours to get home as it was, so it was time to head back. Even so, I made a couple of stops and detours. These were interesting sights worthy of documentation, but I didn’t think they fit with the Tobacco Trail narrative. Continue reading “The Journey Home from Olanta”

Lunch on the Tobacco Trail at the Chat n Chew

Chat-N-Chew Sepia

I do my homework before I go out on these extended photo expeditions. I like to know what’s in an area so that I make sure I can get to my intended target. Sure, I miss things. There were lots of things I had to skip on this particular trek. Sometimes I find too much, and those extra places of interest become distractions from my intended target. Sometimes, though, things work out perfectly, as was the case with lunch at the Chat n’ Chew in Turbeville on this particular trek. Continue reading “Lunch on the Tobacco Trail at the Chat n Chew”

The Rise of Santee on The Tobacco Trail

Tobaco Trail-3

For some reason the town of Santee intrigues me. It’s something of an anomaly compared to the other cities on the Tobacco Trail. There is no main street or central business district. Those features make me think that the town as, say, Orangeburg, Allendale or Bamberg. I decided to find out more about it. In the process of that research I discovered a new ghost town. Continue reading “The Rise of Santee on The Tobacco Trail”

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