We had made a successful escape from Donnelley WMA. The ACE Basin was behind us, but not forgotten. We would be back, and we would conquer it, haints and curses be damned. However, on this particular Saturday, we still had lots on our plate. That phrase turned out to be truer that we could imagine.
Upon escaping Donnelley, our first objective was food. We drove through some very historical areas of Colleton County without stopping to admire them. Our target was Duke’s BBQ, located just off of Highway 15 to the northeast of Walterboro.
Dukes was set up as a buffet line – all you could eat for $10. We paid and got in line.
Food was great, with just about anything that could be deep-fried. I really enjoyed the variety of vegetables. One thing is for sure, though. When they labeled their “hot” sauce, they meant it. It was good.
We wanted to go back for seconds, but the crowds had really grown, as if a bus had unloaded. I guess the place was just that popular.
Having eaten all we could, and then some, we stepped into the vacant lot next door where a tractor show was just winding down. We paused to admire some vintage tractors, all painted, shiny, and new in a way that a tractor in use would never be.
By this time Rob was probably wondering where we were. We got directions to the Colleton County Museum and headed that way. He said we had just missed a old-fashioned Hellfire and Brimstone tent revival next door. Darn, that would have been fun.
Rob took the job as Education Coordinator for the museum just a few months ago. The museum had already closed for the day, but he met us for a behind-the-scenes tour.
The ACE Basin is completely within Colleton County, so there were lots of natural history displays. There were also displays from the various rice and cotton plantations.
There were a couple of mock-ups of old country stores and a five and dime.
I loved the way they had a room set up as an old chapel with pump organ and pews. Along the walls there was information about some of the historic churches in the area.
There was also a good bit of military memorabilia from wars ranging from the Revolutionary War to WWII. The Tuskeegee Airmen had a division based near Walterboro, and so they were represented in the displays.
In one section there was information on Willtown and Jacksonboro, two of the towns on my Ghost Town list. Rob said that he had more info on local ghost towns, and I’m definitely going to take him up on that.
Rob showed us some of the prep areas for the displays, along with some of the artifacts that have not yet gone on display. We walked next door to a building the museum has acquired, and he talked about some of the things he wants to do with the museum. It looks like they’ve got some great things going on, and the Colleton Museum is definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area.
From the museum we all drove over to the Walterboro Standpipe. This unusual water tower was built around 1915, and is similar to the one in Belton, SC. It is 113 ft tall, and had the capacity for 100,000 gallons of water.
More unusually, though is that at one time it served as the county jail. There are six cells at the base of the tower with bars across them.
Rob really wanted to get inside to see if there was a staircase or anything leading to the top. The only thing we could spot was a dangerous-looking ladder on the outside. At one point the ladder bends back, and climbers would be clinging in an inverted situation for awhile for a treacherous overhang.
From the standpipe we drove across town to the Great Swamp Trail. Rather than walk on the nicely paved trails, though, Rob took us into the woods. There we found piles of refuse left over from the old town dump. There was lots of glassware and metal, including the hulk of an old automobile.
Rob had us looking for old Coke bottles that might have been bottled at the local Coca-Cola bottling plant. It was amazing how this trash was just yards from the park.
I guess the early townsfolk thought that all a swamp was good for was to use as a trash dump. A toxic orange sludge ran from one pile of rust down toward the stream that flows through the swamp. James wondered if we should all wallow in it to see if we picked up any superpowers. No one took him up on it.
The park itself was quite nice with a boardwalk and paved trail. We walked along it for a bit, but stayed fairly close to the parking area and stream.
The Great Swamp Sanctuary is located just past the town cemetery. There was one section right at swamp level that looked like it had newer graves. Above, at the higher level, was the historic section. Even here there were some newer graves mixed in with the old. I guess it was a matter of money. Location, location, location, even after you’re dead.
At this point it was getting to be late in the afternoon and I had a long drive. I said my goodbyes to the gang, thanking Rob for the wonderful tour of Walterboro and the Colleton County Museum. Despite the calamities from the morning’s trip to the ACE Basin, it was a great day.