Piedmont-Powdersville Ramble with Brothers

Newell General Store

Our plans for the weekend changed. Friday Houston and I had planned to head down to Sparkleberry Swamp for an early spring paddling trip, but that didn’t work out. Houston had already taken Friday off, so we went with Plan B. We met up with our brother, Stephen, and headed out for a short afternoon ramble through that corner where Anderson, Pickens, and Greenville Counties come together. We made several stops, and found some interesting history along the way.

Newell

We started from Stephen’s house in Easley and headed south, generally toward the town of Piedmont. Driving along Highway 86, Steve announced that we were approaching the community of Newell.

Newell, SC

Newell has been on my list of ghost towns for awhile, and I was surprised to see that we were so close. I had seen photos taken by Sean Green and read his blog post about it. His information was also included on a listing of ghost towns for the state. Continue reading “Piedmont-Powdersville Ramble with Brothers”

Rainy Lowcountry Birding

Female Downy Woodpecker at Beidler Forest

For some reason, weather just does not get along with Laura and me. We went to London during the worst heat wave they had seen. We went to Maine during a heat wave. We went back to Maine and had a week of rain. We went to the Bahamas and an unusual cold snap hit. We visited Disney World during a tornado watch. We drove through a tropical storm on our way to Key West. Sometimes I think Mother Nature just waits until we make travel plans to send her worst. It was the first time in months that we had been able to get away for a weekend, and it looked like the weather was going to be just as uncooperative. We decided to go anyway.

Our plan was to head down to the ACE Basin early Saturday morning and drive through the Donnelly Wildlife Management Area. We would spend the day bird watching and doing some photography, and perhaps run over to the Bear Island WMA. That evening I’d made reservations for an evening boardwalk tour at Francis Beidler Forest. We would stay overnight in the area, then explore some more as we leisurely headed home on Sunday. Alas… Continue reading “Rainy Lowcountry Birding”

Promised Land and Beyond

Cedar Springs Church

It was a Second Saturday. Normally Alan and I would be out with our friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered exploring some river or other historic locale. There were several last-minute conflicts, so the trip fell through this month. Alan and I were still up for a photo trek, so we decided to head out on our own. We took the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite locations, the Long Cane Creek Historic Area and Sumter National Forest.

We had some specific targets in mind. However, with the beautiful morning light, it was hard not to be distracted by every old barn and homestead along the way that looked like a photographic opportunity. We would have only gotten a few miles from home if we had given in. We kept going until we crossed the border into Greenwood County, stopping first at Donalds Depot.

Donalds Depot

Continue reading “Promised Land and Beyond”

Lake Connestee Nature Trail

Reedy River Bridge

It seems I wasn’t the only one itching to get out and shoot some photos when our planned outing went belly up due to weather yesterday. Sunday’s weather was perfect, and Alan wanted to take his new Nikon DSLR for a spin. So, we planned to meet somewhere local. There had been an article in the Greenville News about additions to the Lake Connestee Nature Park, so we decided to check them out.

Our plan was to meet at the parking area at the dam, or so I thought. At the appointed time I got a call from Alan saying he was at the entrance to the park. Turns out he was behind the old Braves Stadium, so I headed in that direction. Then, it turned out that there were TWO entrances to the park with large signs that look like this…

Lake Connestee Sign

Alan was at one, and I was at the other. Through the magic of cell phone technology we got it sorted out, and rendezvoused at the correct trail head. Continue reading “Lake Connestee Nature Trail”

Urban Religion in Greenville

Mountain View Baptist Sign

I had different plans for today. Several of my friends and I were going to go on a photo ramble through Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, so we decided to cancel that trip. I was still in the mood to do some photography, so when the rain let up in the afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed out. I had a project in mind.

I’ve stated it here, and it’s been pointed out many times that there is a church just about on every corner in Greenville. I wanted to explore a few of these. Specifically, I was interested in the older, smaller, out-of-the-way churches. Most of these are tucked away on residential streets. There are so many, that unless one has a connection to the church, most likely one would drive right by without noticing it.

With so many churches in one area, I have to wonder what services must be like. Is there that much diversity that so many are needed? It certainly fragments the church-going population. I think back to McCarter’s tiny congregation, and I know that many of these churches must be struggling to survive. Yet, that small place is a meaningful place of worship for someone. I guess they take the “where ever two or three are gathered” phrase seriously.

Part of this I can understand. There are many, many denominations and sects, and each wants its own place of worship. Then there is the segregation of Greenville’s population. I’m not talking about specifically racial lines, although there are clearly neighborhoods that were historically black or historically white, and each had its own set of churches. Greenville’s population is fractured by mill villages, and each had its own set of churches for each denomination, usually one black and one white. Given that, it’s easier to understand why there are so many in our area. Continue reading “Urban Religion in Greenville”

More on Chappells

Chappells Ruins

My how time flies. Hard to believe that it’s been two years since Alan and I first explored the ghost town of Chappells, SC. We made our exploration after a paddling trip on the Saluda River, and I did a follow-up post on the history of the town.

Last year fellow explorer Mark Elbrecht visited the town during winter, and was able to get some clearer photographs of the ruins.

One other item Mark found was a photograph of the old Chappells Depot from an article in the Newberry Observer

Chappells Depot

As we walked down the old main street and looked at the ruins on our visit, I wondered if any other photographs existed of the town in its heyday. Apart from Mark’s discovery of the depot photo, I had not seen any other photos of the old town. That all changed this past week. Continue reading “More on Chappells”

LCU vs Manchester, Part 2

LCU Swamp Stomp 2013-026

We had loaded up with breakfast at Battens in Wedgefield, and now it was time to go exploring. There were eleven us, divided over three vehicles. Luckily, I had three FRS radios so we could coordinate our travels. So, we set off.

We got off the main highway, and as we entered Manchester State Forest the pavement just kind of gave out. We road on a fairly fast clip, past forested areas and farmland, most of it with “Posted. No Tresspassing” signs.

LCU Swamp Stomp 2013-047
LCU Swamp Stomp 2013-026 Continue reading “LCU vs Manchester, Part 2”

LCU vs Manchester

LCU Swamp Stomp 2013

It sounds like a collegiate soccer game. We had about enough people with us to field a team. However, in truth it was Lowcountry Unfiltered’s Second Saturday outing. This being January, it was time for our annual Swamp Stomp, and we were off to tackle a section of the Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail through Manchester State Park.

Our outing would take us through ghost towns, cemeteries, and the site of Civil War destruction at the hands of Colonel Edward Potter. This was truly and epic outing, and the only way to do it justice is to break it into sections, so consider this Part 1.

Keith met me at the house far too early for a Saturday. Along the way down we picked up Alan and Dwight, so I had a car full. The Upstate would be well-represented on this trip.

LCU Swamp Stomp 2013

We had a fairly loose agenda, but our plan was to meet for breakfast then explore the area. Here’s a quick rundown of the trip… Continue reading “LCU vs Manchester”

Two Historic Cemeteries and a Mill

Ebenezer Methodist Church

A winter holiday, and I was itching to get out and do some exploring. I had a new camera to try out, and wanted to put it through its paces. Unfortunately, I couldn’t roam too far. Fellow explorer Alan came over, and we found a nice compromise. We headed over to the Pelham area to explore the old mill and Ebenezer Methodist Church.

Pelham Mill

Pelham Mill Park is one of my favorite photography destinations. There are lots of textures, water, and interesting structures for subject matter. I’ve visited in the past by myself and with fellow photographer Karen B. This was Alan’s first time visiting the park, as I was glad to have another newbie who might see something I had missed.

Pelham_hist_mill

This site on the Enoree River was the location of one of the first cotton mills in the area. It reached its peak production in the years following the Civil War, and by the turn of the century employed 250 people and ran 10,000 spindles. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1940, leaving only the dam across the river, some foundations, and part of the old brick power station. The old mill office was across Highway 14 from the main part of the mill, and also survived. Continue reading “Two Historic Cemeteries and a Mill”

Stumphouse Tunnel and Tunnel Hill

Stumphouse Tunnel-012

This is part three of our day of adventure. It started in the wee morning hours on Bald Rock viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower, followed by the search for the ghost town Mayucha. Keith and I found some breakfast, and headed north on Highway 28 to find the ghost town of Tunnel Hill, located near the Stumphouse Tunnel.

I had been to Stumphouse Tunnel many times. However, Keith had not. My real goal was not the tunnel, but a spot on the mountain on top of the tunnel. One online source described a cemetery and several foundations – all that remains of the former town of Tunnel Hill. I was hoping to find those.

A Wee Bit of History…

The Blue Ridge Railroad Company was conceived in the mid-1800’s as a way to transfer goods from South Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a grand plan, with multiple tunnels and impressive bridges across the Blue Ridge mountains. The “easy” part of the railroad was completed from Anderson to Pendleton, and in the 1850s construction was started on the three tunnels that would be on the South Carolina portion of the railroad.

Tunnel Hill sprang up at the top of the longest tunnel on Stumphouse Mountain. It largely housed the Irish immigrants working on the tunnels. By all accounts it was a violent place, with saloons outnumbering other businesses, and frequent clashes between the Irish workers and the locals who thought that jobs were being usurped by the newcomers. Historian Jim Haughy recounts a description of the town by Rev. J. J. O’Connell, who visited the town in 1854…

Practically all the dwellings were flimsy wooden frame structures that provided little shelter from the elements. While miners with families lived in primitive cabins, unmarried miners often lodged in boarding shanties provided by other railroad workers and their families.

– “Tunnel Hill: An Irish Mining Community in the Western Carolinas”, presented at The Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association 2004

O’Connell decried the free flowing alcohol, and in addition to establishing St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the village, he was instrumental in forming the St. Patrick’s Temperance Society to get rid of the saloons and improve life in the town. Continue reading “Stumphouse Tunnel and Tunnel Hill”