Alan wanted to go exploring again. It had only been a couple of weeks since our exploration of LA (Lower Anderson), but we wanted to take advantage of the winter exploration season, when leaves are off the trees so we can see stuff tucked back off the road. Our trek would not only take us through Barnwell County, but down through Allendale and up through the Savannah River Plant. Of course there would be old churches, cemeteries, ghost towns, and a few surprises along the way.
As has gotten to be our habit, we started out early with our traditional breakfast at Bill & Fran’s. From there we headed down to Columbia, then took Highway 321 south-southwest. Below Swansea we branched of on Highway 3 heading mostly west. Once again we disciplined ourselves, only getting distracted once at an old cotton gin, even though I’m absolutely sure I’ve photographed it before.
We’ve gotten our preparations for these trips down pat. First, we both make a list of know points of interest we would like to visit. These may be places we’ve spotted on previous trips, but just didn’t have time to check out, or they may be places folks have posted on Flickr or one of the many Facebook groups about the state. Next we check the SCIWAY Picture Project page for any landmarks we don’t want to miss. Finally, we download GPX files from the Historical Marker Database page and make a list of any National Register of Historic Places sites we might want to visit. To this list I add any of the other lists I track – old schools, fire towers, etc.
We take all of this data and dump it into a shared Google Map, where we edit and tweak the list as needed before the exploration date.
Once we’ve got the map set, I download all of the collected points and import them into my GPS. We also have the maps available on our mobile devices. It’s a far cry from when we used to just jump in a car and see where it takes us. There’s still an element of that, but this way we make sure we see what we want to see.
We hit the community of Blackville first. Alan had never seen “God’s Acre healing Springs”, so we headed that way. It wasn’t as crowded as the last time I was here, but there were till a few people filling up jugs. The water was flowing quite well. I had a couple of small cups with me, so Alan and I took a taste. It actually wasn’t too bad.
We drove on into the town of Blackville. The first thing to catch our eye were the ruins of the old Shamrock Hotel.
We wandered around taking photos from multiple angles.
From the back side you can see steel girders shoring up the brick walls. There was a sign on the ground that described grant funding for restoration, but it looks like they had given up restoration, and were now concentrating on stabilization.
A guy in a truck drove by and said, “You want to buy that place?” He went on to say what a shame it was that the place was falling down. There was no more money for restoration. He also spoke longingly of the good food served in the Shamrock’s restaurant.
When I got back I was able to find a photo of the Shamrock in its heyday. Here’s how it once appeared:
I decided to make a composite from the original image with one I’d taken.
Just down the street was another building that had been revived. A pizza place no occupied what was once the Brown Motor Company.
We turned down a side street and came across a couple of churches we wanted to check out. First up was Blackville Methodist Church. This was a small white frame church, founded in 1841. The original church was destroyed by fire in 1887, and rebuilt a couple of years later.
There were several old stones in the cemetery, including one signature stone by R. D. White.
At the other end of the block sits Sacred Heart Catholic Church. This brick Gothic structure was built in 1898. It looked rather under utilized when we visited. There was a sign listing it as “The Chapel” with service times.
There was a statue of Christ out front with the “sacred heart” prominently displayed.
There wasn’t a cemetery nearby that we could see – just the church. After we took several photos we walked on back to the car.
This was just the first part of our trip. We had much more to see.