Ghost Towns of South Carolina
When one hears the words "Ghost town", one usually conjures up images of an abandoned prospectors’ town somewhere out west, similar to the picture of Bodie, California seen above. However, South Carolina has its fair share of ghost towns. While tumbleweeds and swinging saloon doors may not provide the scenery for the South Carolina towns, the abandoned buildings are still rich in history with own tales of long-gone commerce and community.
South Carolina’s ghost towns can be divided into two groups. First, there are the true ghost towns. These are towns that no longer exist except for one or two remaining edifices. There is no viable commerce, and most of the residents have left the area. Given the population density of South Carolina, these are extremely rare. The only cases I know of are Ellenton, which was abandoned when the Savannah River Plant was constructed, and Andersonville, which was inundated when Lake Hartwell was created.
More common are the near-ghost towns. These feature a central business district with a few remaining buildings of historical significance, all of which have been abandoned or closed. However, there is often a vibrant community surrounding the area that still bears the former town’s name, and often a US Post Office with that name still serves the area. Examples that come to mind are the towns of Owings, Pomaria, Peak, Joanna, Cateechee, and Ware Shoals.
The decline of these towns can be attributed to many things. Changes in transportation routes often bypass the towns, as in the case of Pomaria and Peak with Interstate 26. More often, the main industry leaves town, as was the case with textile mill in towns such as Startex/Tucapau and Joanna. Sometimes the town is subsumed into a larger community, as was the case with Cityview and Taylors in the Greenville area.
Over the summer I hope to visit some of these locations and take photographs. I’m currently creating a Google Map of these locations, and hope to record the locations and brief description. Who knows, this might even turn into a book project. However, I’m not sure how the denizens of these towns would react to having their community labeled a "ghost town."
In addition to my Google Map, I’m using several other resources for my research. I’ll list these below:
- South Carolina, A Day at a Time by Caroline W. Todd and Sidney Wait – This book goes county by county, listing interesting out-of-the-way places and communitys in the state.
- SCIWAY.net – They have a section entitled "Lost Places," with links.
- South Carolina Ghost Towns – This independent website is part of the USGenNet project. While it does have some information, it looks like it hasn’t been updated in quite awhile.
- SC Ghost Towns on Rootsweb – Here is another independent project with a listing of some SC Ghost Towns. As with the other site, it hasn’t been updated in awhile.
- South Carolina Encyclopedia – Edited by Walter Edgar, this is on my wish list for this summer.
- USGS Geographic Name Information System (GNIS) – I’ve mentioned this resource before. If a place has a name in the United States, be it town, community, cemetery, stream, hill, or hollow, chances are it can be found here.
And finally, I have extracted data from GNIS and created my own little application for just South Carolina place names. You can search by place name or county, and clicking on the link will bring up a new window with the location in Google Maps.
So, with four-day work weeks over the summer, I may use my Fridays to visit some of these locations.
[tags]Ghost Town, South Carolina[/tags]