So far on my rambles I had visited a few locations in Greenville County, and the next day had ventured to the community of Cross Anchor. I still had lots of daylight left, and lots more to see and do.
Leaving the Cross Anchor/Cross Keys area I continued on Highway 49 toward Union. It had been a VERY long time since I had approached the town from this direction. Just before reaching town on Fairforest Creek there is an incredible mansion. I vaguely remembered seeing the house off in the distance when I was younger, and wondering what it was like. I tried to get a better view this time, but I only got a glimpse – no photos.
Later I found out online that this was the Nicholson Mansion, a huge Tudor house built in 1923. Lynn and Patrick Mornane had been operating it recently as a B&B and wedding venue. According to their Facebook page they decided to close the inn as of August 12 of this year due to health issues. Shame. I would have loved to have toured the house.
Approaching town I reached the bypass. Down the road I spotted a bit of Googie design, so I had to check it out. The Heart Family Restaurant had a striking (albeit aging) Googie styled sign and a wavy canopy drive-in. The old style menus and call boxes were still there, but I don’t think they were functional.
Despite the rusty nature of the signs, the restaurant was open and doing a good business. It was getting close to lunch, and it was tempting, but I had something else in mind.
Both John Boyanoski and Tad Johnson list the Merridun Inn as a very haunted place in their respective books about South Carolina ghosts. I figure it would be an interesting place for lunch, so I went in search of it. After a couple of missteps I found the inn, but was disappointed to find it closed for renovations.
I was close to downtown Union, so I decided to check out Main Street and see if there were any interesting cafes along there. I didn’t spot any, but I did find two old school buildings that were now occupied by USC-Union.
The old Union Depot was close by, so I took a couple of shots of it.
On a side street behind USC-Union I spotted a Jonesville Police car with an unusual front license plate. Some cop has a sick sense of humor.
I still had the problem of lunch. I didn’t want fast food. I wanted some place I could sit, spread out my DeLorme Atlas, and plan out the rest of my afternoon. I found a nice little Mexican place that fit the bill. As I was eating, a newcomer to South Carolina asked about my maps and where he could get one. Turns out he and his wife are also interested in rambling around and finding old historic stuff. I gave him a few suggestions, then headed off for the next stop.
I briefly drove through the Monarch Mills area just northeast of town. I should have taken a few photos of the old mill and mill village, but the lighting just didn’t look right and nothing seemed to inspire me. I headed on out of town on the Monarch Highway toward the town of Santuc.
I took a brief side trip down toward the Broad River. I thought I was heading to Neal Shoals (which I was), but didn’t realize it was quite a ways down there, and that I couldn’t cross the river there. I decided not to go all the way, but headed back on my main route. I did stop to photograph a cool old country store and the Maple Ridge Baptist Church.
Santuc was an interesting little community. I took a couple of shots, but didn’t really linger to explore. Quite frankly, there wasn’t much TO explore.
I had loaded up my GPS with locations of possible old schools. I decided to check out a couple of them. I couldn’t find the old Carem School north of Santuc- it was long gone. However, the old Carlsan School was still there. This looked like another of the old Equalization Schools. When I first drove by there was a FedEx 18 wheeler parked out front. I think the guy had just pulled in to make a phone call. I came back and it was gone, so I could get some better shots.
Soon enough I found myself in the little Union County town of Carlisle. There were a few interesting buildings in the community. One was a large brick structure I at first thought was an old school. However, it looks like a large house that was subsequently divided into apartments. It had vines growing all over it.
I headed northeast out of Carlisle on Fish Trap Road. I saw that the road was going to take me away from the area I wanted to head, so I took another cross-connector back to Highway 215. Along the way I stumbled on the Jeter Cemetery. This seemed like an elaborate family cemetery, complete with its own rather modern chapel.
I started cutting across country. Soon I found myself in the community of Maybinton. There is really nothing there. I didn’t linger too long. I did find myself crossing the Enoree River twice – once on Keitt’s Bridge and once on Brazzelman’s Bridge. I have either launched or ended kayak trips at both of these bridges, but I’ve never paddled the stretch between them. I need to fill in that gap in my Enoree experience. Both bridges replaced older steel girder bridges. Those can both still be seen, although the roadbeds have long since gone.
Outside of Maybinton I came across an old cemetery. A stone marker indicated that this was the site of the old Ebenezer Methodist Church. The most prominent family name on the headstones was “Maybin”, so I guess these were the founders of the community.
I had made a mistake with my GPS. Instead of just uploading those schools that I suspected of being extant, I had uploaded ALL of the GNIS school names. This led me on several wild goose chases. Out beyond Ebenezer and Maybinton I turned down Seekwell School Road, in search of the eponymous school. No luck. I eventually came to a dead end on the dirt road and had to come back.
Seekwell Baptist Church was a typical brick country church. However, next to it was a concrete block building with a wooden Masonic symbol. This struck me as incongruous. Many conservative Baptists I know are adamantly opposed to the Masons as a demonic order, of sorts.
I zig-zagged through the country some more, and eventually wound up at the town of Whitmire. There I found a string of bras and bikini tops stretched across Main Street. Odd. I wondered momentarily if there were a group of topless women wandering around somewhere. Of course, I knew that they had done this for Breast Cancer Awareness. An older African American gentleman chuckled at me as I paused to take photos. “You ain’t seen nothing like that, have ya?”, he laughed.
By that time I figured I’d seen everything, and started to wander on home. Of course, I took the very long way home, stopping briefly by Langston Baptist Church in Laurens County.
It had been a great day exploring, but there is definitely more in that area I want to see. For one thing, I’ve GOT to sort out my GPS mess. We’ll see.