Ghost Towns of South Carolina

Bodie Ghost Town

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]

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52 Comments

  1. I’ve been to a couple of your near ghost towns and I can think of a few that haven’t made your list that could fit on it rather well. One of them is Grover, SC just south of last weekend’s home away from home. The USPS site says that the PO belongs to St. George with a zip of 29477, but the building still has a sign that says Grover with a zip of 29447. Not much there besides the PO and the church across the street. Ulmer, Cassatt, Mts Carmel & Croghan come to mind as well. But from my recollection no historical buildings…

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks for the info! I’ll have to check those out. My first excursion will probably be Memorial Day, and I may stay in the upstate area.

  3. Here is another one to add to the list. It is about 5 miles south of Mt. Carmel and while Mt. Carmel has a few buildings that are occupied, Willington is nothing more than a crossroads with a series of abandoned brick building on one corner.

  4. brandal says:

    Ware shoals is about 4 miles square and has about 3 thousand people living there….hardly a near ghost town ….based on size,there are roughly 1300 people per square mile

  5. Edward Hudson says:

    Looking for ghost town Shain Rock which was located near Clemson, SC in Pickens County. It was now as a location of a silver mine between 1760 and 1800. Also trying to locate Pointing Rock in Pickens County SC

  6. Keith Dover says:

    Tom there is one I’ve heard of in Union County. called Pinckneyville. As I read it was supposed to be the Charleston of the Upstate. I’ve been meaning to go look for it but haven’t had the chance.

  7. Keith Dover says:

    Oh yes, what about Pickens Courthouse?

    • Tom says:

      Keith – I’ve hear of both of these. I’ll do some research.

      Now that we don’t have Chorale (for awhile), maybe we can go find one of these.

  8. Keith Dover says:

    Pickens Courthouse is where the “Old Pickens Presbyterian Church” is located.

  9. tyler morton says:

    I have been there it is truly haunted im going again tommorrow night

  10. Kittie Danger says:

    A friend of mine & I went on an adventure & got “locked in” the abandoned town of Pinckneyville a few months ago…it wasn’t that difficult to find, I believe that I saved the directions, from Greenville, it took a little over an hour or so to get there. Got some neat pics & also a few creepy EVP’s, one in particular taken near “the hanging tree” you can hear a woman weeping and the words…’not guilty’..it was really a cool experience & I would love to go again, but there is a gate there that does have a lock & although it is a “state highway” route on a map, it is also a “Private Driveway”, there is a family that has a summer house there . They were not familiar w/the town or the history. Their son thought that it was “cool” the parents were less than thrilled 2 women knocked on their door late at night due to the gate being unlocked when they entered the ‘road’ (which is really like a mile or longer “hog path”, full of deep ruts & grooves) & being locked w/a padlock when they tried to leave. So, I strongly caution anyone who wants to go to Pinckneyville to find the family and gain permission of them or chance being locked in if the family decides to go back to their hometown at night & locks you inside…this is not a gate you could simply crash a truck through or go around either, we thought about that before trying to find exactly ‘who’ had locked us in there….the tape is hilarious.

    • Horace Reese says:

      I recently purchased a home believed to have been built at the same time as Pickneyville. Are there any complete structures remaining at the site. I want to compare any archectural features with any remaining building with my house. The home I purchased is on the National Registry as the Hugh Means house, Jonesville , SC.

  11. Travis says:

    Kittie, where is the place that you are talking about? Sounds neat.

  12. Elaine says:

    We have been trying to locate a lost community somewhere around Kershaw, S.C. called Bend in the Creek. Having no luck. Anyone heard of it?

  13. Mike says:

    steelseller says:
    I remember visiting two ghost towns as a child, I am now in my 50s, that were located in Fairfield County- Strother and Shelton.

    Shelton now has people living where the town was, but the town is gone. The buildings were still there when I was around 12. I still have an old soda bottle that was made in Shelton. A plant capable of making bottles gives you some idea of the size of the town.

    Strother was located on the banks of the Broad River on the Fairfield side just after you cross the river bridge on Hwy 34. It was on the right side when coming from Newberry. All that was left when I was a child was the RR depot- gone now. My Dad, born in 1918, said there were other buildings there when he was a child.

  14. Mike says:

    Also found this:

    Up for auction is this rare Shivar Beverages advertising mirror/thermometer.It is for Shivar Pale ale Ginger Ale.It states on the front of the bottle :Made with the celebrated Shivar Springs Mineral Water.This Spring was located in Fairfield Co.,Shelton,South Carolina.I found out this was in business from 1900-1950.The piece is 5.5″ wide x 8.75″ tall.It is contained in a metal frame.The condition is really good,with working thermometer and very little paint loss of graphics.It seems to be painted reverse on glass.T is a little paint loss in the letters and logo on bottom.But is not very distracting on the piece.It still looks great.any questions please ask.I will be glad to send pictures by request.S/H will be $6.00 priority,U.S.Will ship to other countries,shipping quotes can be given.
    The location is printed on the front of the bottle also.The entire bottle has written on it.CONTENTS 32 FLUID OZ. SHIVAR PALE DRY GINGER ALE PREPARED WITH THE CELEBRATED SHIVAR SPRING WATER SHIVAR SPRINGS BOTTLING CO. SHELTON,S.C.

    ——————————————————————————–

    • Tom says:

      Cool! Thanks for the info on these two towns, Mike. I’ve explored that area, and I think I’ve been through Shelton, but I may need to check it out again.

  15. Kittie Danger says:

    Travis, I’m sorry, but I just saw your question. Tom is correct w/his info on it. We may go back, but waiting for hunting season to be over, because one half of it was well marked on the right side of the dirt road going into what used to be the town as belonging to a hunt club. I wish I could find out the family who has a home down that road and get permission from them to go back, because their driveway is part of that old road and they have a gate that they lock and there is no way of going around it. If I can’t find the family, I guess we’ll be walking that long stretch of road in the dark, lol.

  16. Jeff H says:

    Kittie, thats awesome that you went to pinckneyville. I had a friend go there awhile back and he was so creeped out there he will very rarely will talk about it. He also got locked in and had to spend the night there. I’m going into the Marines in March 2011 and really want to do some traveling before leaving, and Pinckneyville definetly has caught my interest just from listening to my friends story. I’ve been into old abandoned houses that are said to be “haunted” but I want to go and see the real thing. I’m in York/McConnels, SC so its roughly an hour from me. I’d really like to check it out before going into basic training in March, but I’d only want to go with someone who’s expierienced and been there before.

  17. George says:

    You might want to check out Lydia over near Hartsville.
    This was a town built on speculation of a railroad line that never showed up. I know that it once had a bank because the old bank vault is still standing in some brush off the road. There’s several other old buildings there left over from back then. Here’s a link to a site someone put up about the history http://www.lydiasc.net/lydia/lydiaheyday.htm

  18. tyler says:

    i saw that yall have been talking about pinckneyville on here and my family is the one who has the summer house down their, and kittie danger i believe that i am the one who went and unlocked the gate for you and your friend. i can prove it to, you followed me up the mile long road i was on the 4 wheeler in front of you when we got to the gate, you got out and offered to hold the light for me to unlock the lock on the yellow gate. and i can assure you that the town is not haunted because i have been up there countless times at night and never heard anything creepy.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the update, Tyler. So, if I wanted to visit the site for historical or photographic purposes, would you be the one to contact? I’m more into history and interesting places than haunts and ghosts.

    • Ellie says:

      Tyler, Are you still living up there ? I would love to come and visit sometime if I could get the ok . Would like to ride around with you if you have the time. email me jrgtwocreek@aol.com

  19. Suzy says:

    You might try Newry, SC, which is now a part of Seneca, SC, although the borough was once it’s own town. The homes are still occupied, and post office operational, but the general store, foreman’s office and textile mill are all abandoned.

    If you hang around the Post Office long enough to catch one of the older locals, you could probably fish some information about the history of the place and what’s going on there now.

  20. Tom says:

    Thanks, Suzy. I have visited Newry a couple of times and it’s a fascinating place. I’ve even paddled to it from the Little River, and was able to explore the abandoned mill.

    I may try to go back and talk to one of the locals, as you suggest, though.

  21. tyler says:

    sorry tom, but we dont give permission for anyone to visit the town unless we know them.

  22. travis says:

    hey tyler, i just went to pinckneyville about a week or 2 ago and it looked like the CIA or some government agency has moved in down there, we were escorted out of there by either us troops or government agents.

  23. Steve says:

    Are there any abandon towns in York County, SC.

    I seen to recall of a place named Hope?

    I saw a posting on internet some time ago, but can’t find it again.

    Thanks

  24. Mark says:

    I was under the impression the Union County Historical Society still owns Pickneyville. So shouldn’t it be from them permission must be granted to visit the site?

  25. Ken cothran says:

    I’ve been wanting to get back to Glenn Springs, on the SE side of Croft St Park in Spartanburg County. I lived on the N side in Huntington Woods in HS, and went through GS occasionally. It’s an old resort location. I recall a number of abandoned or semi-abandoned but impressive buildings (I think). But I never got to nose around down there, and certainly didn’t have a camera at the time.

  26. Keith Dover says:

    Tom, there was a post office in extreme western Greenville County one time called Mayfield. It was somewhere along the Pumpkintown Highway.

    I also recently learned doing my genealogy research that my GG Grandfather and his family lived in the “Caesar’s Head district, the Oil Camp Post Office” in 1860.

  27. gary wilson says:

    Just browsing the internet trying to find any info about shelton, sc came across this site ghost towns of sc. I grew up in shelton my mother still lives there. Some one named Mike posted he has a Shivar Beverages ad mirror/themometer for acution I am interested if you still have them. If so please send me an e-mail @ gbwilson2000 at aol.com. Hope to hear from you

  28. recon says:

    Yes union county does still own the land where the buildings sat at pinckneyville. But my question to the summer house guy is how u can gate up a public road?

    • Tom says:

      Recon – I think I know how that happened. The county has blocked the road to prevent vandalism and further damage to the site. However, there are several landowners along the access road to Pinckneyville, and they also have keys to that gate and could allow someone access.

      When we visited a couple of weeks ago the Union Historical Society provided us a key to the gate. When we got there it was already unlock, and we passed a pickup truck pulled down one of the side dirt roads.

      If you would like to visit, just call the Union County Museum, and they can arrange a time.

  29. mduser says:

    i am a relic hunter,and would like to know if metal detecting is allowed at pickneyville? thanks

  30. Kaiti says:

    Another neat place to visit used to be Newry SC..I used to live just outside of that small town As A kid and me and my friends used to play in the old cotton mill..It still had Cotton Gins in it. People used to use the Gins for the cotton they grew themselves after the mill was shut down. I haven’t been there In Many years and from what i’ve heard its been vandalized and only lord knows what else..Another thing I found odd though was when i was growing up in the town next to Newry I never met anyone from there..And not many people even know of the town. I was told there was a book written on the towns history by An older woman who died of a brain tumor.

  31. EJ says:

    ok im trying to find out why travis has not added to this after his last post im moving to union s.c. and i would like to know more about this “pinckneyville ” and what is really going on there any info will help thanks

    • Travis says:

      EJ, I was down at Pinckneyville a few months ago with some friends, we went down there at night, so we didn’t get to see a whole lot but from what I could see it hasn’t changed much around the town, but we walked into the woods a peace behind the monument and we could see a 3 army vehicles and some other cars parked just behind the monument. we left soon after, but it looks like the CIA or some other government agency is doing something down in there.

  32. Edward says:

    I lived near Union for about half my life, and have been to Pinkneyville many times. The remains are scarce, and what is there has been littered and defaced to obscurity, I first visited Pinkneyville as a child sometime in the mid 1970`s. Pinkneynille is located where the Pacolet and Broad Rivers meet, if remains of old settlements interest you I would recommend a few miles North up the Pacolet River Grindal Shoals. This site is much less know of and just a little harder to access but it once boasted a saw mill, Gris mill, as well as several homes. Grindal Shoals was also a popular stop for a small group of Confederate solders who camped there on more than one occasion

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the info, Edward. We were able to arrange a visit to Pinckneyville with the Union County Historical Society, and we found pretty much what you described. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find the grave of a namesake – another Thomas Taylor.

      I first heard about Grindal Shoals in one of John Lane’s books. Based on your description, I think I need to check that one out. Thanks for the tip!

  33. rachel says:

    I vaguely remember seeing something in a book my grandpa had, about abandoned towns from the revolutionary war era or before. There were several, I think in SC & GA, fairly close to the coast or inlets. Does anyone know what they were called? My interest is picqued! It’s driving me nuts.

  34. Rachel says:

    One place that I can tell you in SC that is definitely a ghost town is Chappells, SC. I learned about it from a photographers website and decided to visit it a few months back. It truly is a ghost town. There are the remnants of what used to be a town. The buildings are all abandoned on what is left of Main St. As a matter offact, if you aren’t careful you’ll drive right by it. U really have to look for it. IN the woods are old falling down houses. Crows lived in one or two buildings. I managed to get some pics of a couple of them. It’s in Newberry county. First true ghost town I’ve found.

    http://haunted505.blogspot.com

    • Tom says:

      Great resource! I hadn’t come across that blog, but I will spend some time reading it.

      As for Chappells, I agree that it is a true ghost town. I did get a chance to visit and take some photographs. I’ve posted those on this blog somewhere.

  35. Val says:

    There is an abandoned town in or near Allendale, SC. There is a main street that looks like it is straight out of a movie set. All the buildings are abandoned and there is a fence that has been erected on both sides of the street in front of all the buildings. Every single motel, restaurant and gas station leading into town is also closed. It seems like it was abandoned in the recent past. Does anyone know what happened here? It looks as if everything closed up at the exact same time.

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