Hidden Tunnels and Safety Coffins

Ebenezer Chapel

In the first part of our Ferris Bueller Day outing, Dwight Moffitt, Jami Sprankle, and I visited the Camp Asylum archeology dig on the State Hospital grounds on Bull Street. However, our day of adventure was not over.

Just about any city has rumors of underground passageways. Larger cities have the obvious subway lines, but there are other systems of tunnels to support both utilitarian and other more nefarious purposes. Columbia is no different. There are rumored to be three distinct tunnel systems in Columbia. There are supposed to be a set of tunnels near the Five Points area, a set of tunnels from the Statehouse down Main Street and to the Congaree River, and a well-documented set of ventilation and utilitarian tunnels under the USC campus. For our second adventure of the day we sought out the entrance to one of these tunnels. Continue reading “Hidden Tunnels and Safety Coffins”

Visiting Camp Asylum

Babcock Building B&W

I’ve been wanting to have a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for some time now with two of my great friends from Furman, Dwight Moffitt and Jami Sprankle. Since both live in Columbia the idea was that I’d ride down and we would see what all the city had to offer. While our day didn’t quite live up to the idealized movie standards, we still had a blast with a day full of insane asylums, hidden tunnels, harpsichords, safety coffins, and bagels. Oh Yeah!

The opportunity presented itself when Dwight forwarded me information about a tour of “Camp Asylum.” A group of archeologists from USC are excavating a Civil War prisoner of war encampment on the grounds of the old South Carolina State Mental Health Hospital on Bull Street. The site has been sold to developers, so the archeologists wanted to study as much about the site as they could before it was no longer available. Historic Columbia is offering tours of the dig on Fridays through the end of April. Jami starts a new job on Monday, so this Friday was the perfect time to explore.

Plans flew back and forth all week. We looked at the old Hidden Columbia videos on Facebook as well as other guidebooks and things to see what we might want to include in our Ferris Bueller Day. A cool soundtrack was a necessity. In the end, weather and family obligations limited our choices. Continue reading “Visiting Camp Asylum”

Paddling to Columbia

Alan at Shoals

I’ve always been intrigued by the Broad River, especially the stretch starting at the Peak trestle. It looks like it would be a great paddling venue, but unfortunately public access points are few and far between. The next access point downstream from Peak is Harbison State Forest, near Columbia. Alan wanted to do a trip for Memorial Day weekend, and it looked like the perfect opportunity to hit this stretch. It turned out to be the longest single-day trip I’ve every attempted, but it was another great day on the water.

The SC Trails website describes the Peak to Harbison stretch as a 22-mile paddle. This site lists the put-in about a mile upstream at the Highway 213 bridge. The route also describes paddling down to the I-20 bridge, then back up for some reason. I had been down to the 213 put-in, and it was a very rough drive down, and a difficult launch. The new access point at the trestle seemed much better, and would shorten the trip a bit.


Even so, I knew it would be a challenge. However, I was hoping that a strong current would make it easier than if we were doing a flatwater trip of the same distance. All the same, I wanted to get an early start. In addition to Alan, my brother Houston and his two friends Steve and Jeannie Boyette would be joining us. The plan was to meet at the put-in at 8:30 am, run the shuttle, and get on the water by 10:00. Continue reading “Paddling to Columbia”

SCETV Workshops Spring 2010

The time-lapse video above gives some indication of the frenetic pace I’ve been hitting this week. Several months ago I agree to once again do my Google Earth workshops for the SCETV Technology Conference. Had I known how hectic these past two weeks were going to be even without the conference, I might have reconsidered. However, despite PASS testing, 135th day counts, and other pressing needs in Spartanburg Five, I headed on down for the Wednesday – Friday sessions.

As I had done last year, I’m presenting two different sessions. The first is a basic introduction to Google Earth. The teachers get some time just to become familiar with the program’s controls and navigation, and I give them some suggestions for using it in their classrooms. The second session is more in-depth. I cover ways that Google Earth can be used to create highly interactive lessons buy using embedded media. I tend to get lots of oohs and ahs with that session because there is some really cool stuff you can do.

Wednesday we had a luncheon and were joined by several representatives from Discovery Education. Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of Jaques Cousteau, was our keynote speaker. In the evening the Discovery Educators Network (DEN) STAR members had a dinner at the SCETV studios, and we were again joined by Phillipe Cousteau. He spoke about some of his current environmental education endeavors.

DEN Star Educators DinnerPhillipe Cousteau addresses the DEN groupDEN Star Educators at SCETV Continue reading “SCETV Workshops Spring 2010”

Hidden Columbia

Tuesday I had to make one of my occasional trips down to Columbia for a meeting. The meeting was being held in an unusual location, and there were traffic detours all around the school. That meant that I saw more of Columbia neighborhoods than I normally see on one of these visits. Seeing the abandoned … Continue reading Hidden Columbia

SCETV Summer Workshops


This week SCETV is holding its summer technology workshops. Normally I’m so busy building new schools and putting in computers that I can’t take part in the summer workshops. This summer, however, I decided I would try to make it. I figured that during summer there would be better participation than there might during the school year.

Last spring I did three sessions each day, which meant that I had no down time nor opportunity to visit any other sessions. This time I cut one of my presentations, so I would only be doing two workshops each day – Basic Google Earth and Creating Interactive Lessons with Google Earth. I had also been asked to conduct a geocaching activity one of the afternoons. Continue reading “SCETV Summer Workshops”

Columbia Riverfront Park

Columbia Canal HDR

Once, many years ago, I made the statement that while other cities like Austin and New Orleans had cool Riverwalk areas, Columbia had built a penitentiary on it’s riverfront. Fortunately, in the past couple of decades since that statement attitudes have changed, and both Greenville and Columbia have recognized the importance of their waterways and the potential for tourism. While in Columbia this past week I was able to spend an afternoon at the Columbia Riverfront Park, and it was quite a pleasant outing.

The park is located at the site of the Columbia Waterworks, and incorporates historical elements of the waterworks, the Columbia Canal, and the Congaree River. One enters the main portion of the part at the Waterworks entrance, with a path that leads past the portions of the water treatment plant that are still in operation. Continue reading “Columbia Riverfront Park”