Quick Watkinsville Ramble

Rusted Iron Horse
The Iron Horse

Houston and I still had some photos we needed to process from Lauren and Daniel’s wedding.  We made arrangements to get together at his place in Watkinsville, Georgia.  It had been awhile since I had been down that way, so Sunday morning I made the trek down I-85, through Athens, and down to his farm out in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper ramble if we didn’t generate more photos along the way.  So, before working on the wedding photos, we headed out to take some more.

The weather was perfect, so our first stop needed to be an outdoor venue.  Just down from Houston’s farm is the Dyar Pasture Wetlands area.  The wetlands are on the upper end of Lake Oconee, where the Oconee River enters the lake  There is a boat ramp, and what looks like an excellent place to paddle.  We took one of the trails out to an overlook for the wetlands, then walked out onto a dike.

Dyar Pasture Overlook
Watkinsville Etc-21 Continue reading “Quick Watkinsville Ramble”

Wet Saturday Ramble

Alan and I had planned to take our boats out for a quick Saturday morning paddle.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, so we had to fall back to Plan B.  Alan is as much of a rambler and photographer as I am, so we decided to hit a couple of places locally that he knew about.  The quick trek to us to some interesting remnants of Greenville.

We started the morning discussion talking about hidden and forgotten cemeteries in town.  That might be worthy of a blog post/exploration all on its own.  Alan mentioned on just off of Haywood Road.  We were able to find it in Google Maps, right next to the distinctive lavender building that houses The Trophy Club strip joint.  I’m sure the original owners of the cemetery would be appalled at the disruption to eternal rest. 🙂  We decided to check it out (the cemetery, not the strip club.)

Laurel Creek Cemetery

Finding the cemetery was easy.  It’s not on a major traffic route, but it is right there in the middle of everything.  It’s hard to miss if you’re looking in the right place.  Unfortunately, the grounds were surrounded by chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire with locked gates.  Any observing we were going to do would have to be done from outside. Continue reading “Wet Saturday Ramble”

The Kingdom of Stuff You Don’t Need

Pickens Flea Market-14

Yep, I made another mid-week trek over to the Pickens Flea Market. It was a beautiful day, and I headed over there just because I could. I was curious as to how the place changes on a non-summer, non-holiday Wednesday.

According to their Facebook page, the flea market is open from 4:00 am until 2:00 pm every Wednesday. I can’t imagine being here before dawn, but I guess some of the vendors need that time to get set up. I have gotten here as early as 7:30, and the vendors were still setting up. I think the “sweet spot” as far as time is from 8:00 until 11:00. By 11:00 many of the vendors are already packing up for home.

Normally I park at one end and head west. Usually I run out of steam by the time I get to the other side, so this time I parked closer to the other end. It seemed much sparser at this end on this particular Wednesday. Much of the covered area wasn’t occupied, but there were still quite a few open-air vendors. Everything seemed more spread out, with little pockets of vendors in remote corners.

I think this is the newer section. A chain link fence runs down the middle of the market, dividing it in half. It’s possible that the two halves are managed separately, but I’m not sure about that. One must pass through a rather narrow, congested gate to get from one half to the other. That may just give them the ability to open only a part of the market if necessary. (Pure speculation here.) Continue reading “The Kingdom of Stuff You Don’t Need”

In Search of Andersonville and a Retreat

Old Retreat Prebyterian Church and Cemetery-029
Old Retreat Presbyterian Church
Oconee County, SC

Stephen and I had the day open on Friday, so we decided to do a bit of photo rambling. I’ve been wanting to explore the environs of Andersonville, one of the ghost towns on my list, and from there it would be one of our typical rambles, with multiple stops along the way.

Old Andersonville is now mostly under Lake Hartwell. There is a two mile island where some of the town had been located. We didn’t expect to see much of the ghost town on this trip, but were mainly scouting access points for a future kayak trip out to the island.

I picked up Stephen at his house in Easley, then we headed down 178 toward Anderson. As with all of our rambles something catches our eye, and we have to stop. In this case it was the community around Lebanon Baptist Church. A small country store, a couple of sheds, and an old school were located in the vicinity of the church.

Lebanon Shed
Lebanon School Continue reading “In Search of Andersonville and a Retreat”

Multiple Mountain Meanderings

Blue Ridge Parkway-1
Devil’s Courthouse

Three times this week I have made treks northward, crossing the Blue Wall into the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Two of those trips covered similar ground.  Only one was in the new Mini convertible.  All three covered ground I’ve traversed recently, so some of the photos may look a little…familiar.

Monday – Picnic at Davidson River

Last weekend Laura’s sister and mother were with us.  The weather looked good for Monday, so we decided to take a trek up to Pisgah Forest for a picnic.  We had done this trip with Laura’s cousins a couple of years ago, and her mom had loved the sound of the Davidson River rippling past our picnic area.

For this trip we loaded everyone into the Subaru and first headed up Highway 25 toward Hendersonville.  We took a brief detour through Tuxedo, then turned toward Flat Rock.  At Flat Rock we took Little River Road toward Crab Creek westward, toward Brevard.  The weather was clear and spectacular, with large fluffy white clouds and blue skies. Continue reading “Multiple Mountain Meanderings”

Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town

Lone Star, South Carolina
Lone Star, South Carolina

We have a tradition of looking for a good barbecue place after our paddling trips. This was no different. Our target for this outing was Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile. However, this was a two-fer – lots of good food and a chance to explore one of South Carolina’s ghost towns.

Lone Star, the Ghost Town

It started with a bit of miscommunication. The rest of the guys had never been to the town of Lone Star, and thought that the barbecue place was in the town proper. So, once we loaded up the boats, they set off, with me following, toward the town. What they found was the ghost town that I knew. All that is left of Lone Star is the old freight depot, moved from its original location, the large brick Masonic building, and two dilapidated stores. Across the tracks was a small convenience store that may or may not have been open. No barbecue anywhere in sight.

Lone Star Freight Depot
Lone Star

Continue reading “Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip

Downtown Cope
Downtown Cope

On my way down to Bluffton I passed through twenty-six small towns. In addition to that I’ve visited two ghost towns, and some of those other towns were about to cross the line into the “ghost” category. For the return trip I had a couple of options for avoiding the Interstate. I decided to retrace my way partially on 321, then branch off on 601 northbound to Orangeburg. That would take me through more small towns.

I was leaving Hilton Head fairly early, and even had time for a good breakfast leaving the island. That would give me plenty of time for exploration. That turned out to be a good thing because of some very unexpected delays, but more on that later.

So, on the way back I hit the following towns that I had visited before.

  • Hilton Head
  • Bluffton
  • Okatie
  • Hardeeville
  • Tillman
  • Tarboro

I didn’t linger too long in these, but continued on until I reached the turnoff for Highway 601.

The towns of Stokes and De Loach were little more than wide spots in the road. In Google Earth Stokes is shown off the main highway down a dirt road. It is a possible ghost town. I didn’t have that information at the time, so I didn’t venture to check it out. Next up was Furman, which I had visited via detour yesterday.

The next town on the list was Hampton, and here is where I ran into the surprising delay. I could see the main road through town was blocked with a police car with flashing lights. I saw pavilions and food vendors set up, and realized I had stumbled onto the Hampton County Watermelon Festival. It looked like there was no way through the town, so I decided to park and explore. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip”

The Lost Town of Mitchelville

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Mitchelville Park Center, Hilton Head Island

NOTE: Yeah, I’m still behind on blogging. Now I’m about two weeks behind, but I’m slowly catching up. 🙂

A few months ago I learned about an exhibit at USC’s McKissick Museum about the town of Mitchelville. As I read more about Mitchelville, I knew I had to add this one to my list of South Carolina ghost towns. The recent trip to Bluffton offered the perfect opportunity to explore this town on the northeast shore of Hilton Head.

During the Civil War Union troops captured Hilton Head Island and established that as one of their bases of operations. Beginning in 1861 escaped slaves, or “contrabands” as they were called, sought refuge on the island. The Union soldiers were unsure of what to do with the slaves, so in late 1862 General Ormsby M. Mitchel allowed the escaped African Americans to establish the town of Mitchelville. This one of the first examples of the Port Royal Experiment, where African Americans were given control of the land to work for wages.

Mitchelville Map 1864
Mitchelville Map circa 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia

Continue reading “The Lost Town of Mitchelville”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour

SC Small Towns-028
Downtown Bamberg

I’m still playing catch-up with my blogging. I’m about a week behind, but maybe over the next couple of days I can get caught up.

When Glynda first got married she lived in Savannah and our family would make the occasional trip down there for a visit. This was 40+ years ago, so I-95 was non-existent. The only way to get there was a series of two-lane roads that went through lots of tiny towns in South Carolina.

Now for the present – last weekend my paddling buddy, Matt Richardson, turned 40, and his wife, Cris, planned a surprise party for him. Since I’m now retired with nothing better to do, I decided to drive down and join in the surprise. I had the time, so I decided to replicate the trips from long ago, avoiding the interstates, and driving through all of the little towns, taking photos along the way. I also planned to hit a couple of ghost towns. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour”

Fourth in Florida

Been a busy week. We headed down to Florida to Laura’s sister’s house for the Fourth holiday. The days at Amy’s have been spent on day trips, but mostly paddling out on the Indian River. I have fallen woefully behind on blogging. I’ve got a couple of ghost town reports and other write-ups to finish. … Continue reading Fourth in Florida