Tag Archive: Columbia

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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 (more…)

Hidden Columbia


Dark Skyline

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 railway that runs through Columbia and some of the older neighborhoods, I was reminded of a Facebook discovery I’d made – a fan page entitled Hidden Columbia. When I got back from my meeting I decided to look at it more closely, and found a treasure trove.

Hidden Columbia is a production of WOLO News, the local ABC affiliate, and airs every other Tuesday on their 11:00 pm newscast. Reporter Anderson Burns seeks out the obscure and unusual around the city. Sometimes this is some local oddity, or it may be a bit of history that has been covered over with development. Here’s a story about hidden tunnels around Columbia…

…and another about “Underground Columbia,” a development that was supposed to be like Underground Atlanta, but was never really realized…

The videos can be seen on the Facebook fan page. Unfortunately, they are ONLY available on Facebook, as far as I can tell. The station’s website is a pathetic jumble of slick advertisements with shiny buttons that point to Facebook and Twitter, but there is no content there. So, if you’re not on Facebook, you can’t view the videos. (Unless you know a sneaky little bit of code and can embed the videos, like I did here.)

Facebook problems aside, Burns has explored some fascinating locations. Because of his reporter status, he’s been granted permission to visit some places that are off-limits to the general public. But, he makes clear in his reports which areas are publicly accessible and which are posted. I hope that revealing the location of these treasures doesn’t cause problems from those that might trespass and cause damage.

I’ve only had time to view a few of the videos, but now I’m tempted to find one of these the next time I’m down that way. I’ve got to be in Columbia several days in March, so I think I’ll watch more of these, and possibly plot them on Google Earth. It would be something interesting to do while I’m not in workshops.

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

SCETV Technology Workshops


Newsplex 2

For the past three days I’ve been in Columbia doing workshops SCETV. As I’ve done for the past three years, I’ve offered training at various levels in Google Earth. It was a busy three days, and I didn’t have much time to blog during that time. Still, it was a good experience. SCETV always puts on a good training session.

The first day I got up at 4:30 and drove on down so I would be ready for my first session at 8:30, which was an Introduction to Google Earth. The room they had me in was absolutely fantastic – open with views out toward the Columbia skyline. There was a central screen flanked by four large LCD TV’s, and seating was very comfortable Herman Miller Aeleron chairs. The IFRA Newsplex is used by the USC School of Journalism for training, and it’s quite a room.

Newsplex 1
Google Earth Workshop

The sessions went well. As mentioned, the first one was an introduction, and the second was on creating interactive lessons with Google Earth. The third one was on geotagging, and it was held in a very dark conference room in another building. Not only were the attendees about to fall asleep, but so was I.

After the sessions on the first day I went to the Columbia Riverside Park and took lots of photos (post and photos to follow), then to Riverside New Orleans Grill for dinner, then I collapsed at the hotel.

On Wednesday I had been asked to fill in for someone who was doing a session on creating virtual field trips in Google Earth. It turns out that the person who was originally scheduled to do the workshop had downloaded one of my handouts, and was planning to use that. I tried to wing it, but I’m not so sure I did it justice. The other two workshops went very well, though.

Second day dinner was with my friend Dwight and family, then another collapse.

Day three, more of the same. For the final session on geotagging I had 13 people signed up, but only 3 showed up. We did a nice little self-guided study, and it worked out OK. They got lots of individual attention.

I’m thinking that the geotagging workshop may be a bit esoteric, and I’ll probably drop it from my repertoire. The other two got lots of positive feedback. As I had anticipated, the participants were astounded with the ability to embed multimedia components into Google Earth placemarks. There were lots of oohs and aahs.

That was followed by the long drive back up I-26, with a brief diversion to see if the Tip Top Lookout Tower was still standing, which it wasn’t.

Columbia History on Flickr


Thanks to a post on the Not Very Bright blog, I’ve just learned that Richland County Library has joined the ranks of those that are starting to use Flickr effectively to post historic images. The collection contains historical artwork as well as early photographs. It looks like most of the photos are not in high resolution. However, they are large enough to be usable online for educational purposes – generally about 800 X 600.

The library has made great efforts to include metadata for each image. The library has also made extensive use of tags and descriptors. Not only is there detailed information about each image, but also a link to the item in the library’s catalog. You can even check out the photo reproduction, if you wish.

Since these are photos of the state capital, they include images of prominent politicians and other famous events. These should have an appeal for not just Columbia but the entire state.

I really like the way Richland County has done this. They actually have two Flickr accounts. The one with the historic images is part of their digitization project. The second account is for activities and life at the library. I think this is a marvelous way to keep the historic images and day-to-day library activities separate. Kudos to the RCPL.

[tags]Flickr, Columbia, Richland Library, Library, historic images[/tags]

SCETV Day 3 – Reflections on Censorship


South Carolina State House

Today was a jam-packed day. I had three sessions back to back, then it was time to drive home. There was one last session on basic Google Earth, then two on Geotagging. Yesterday during the late afternoon I had drive around Columbia snapping pictures so that I would have some shots for tagging.

Thurmond DomeWar Protesters 2Varsity BilliardsETV Satellite FarmETV Building

The first session went well, then it was a mad dash to the other ETV building for geotagging. It was a small room, so we had a rather information demonstration/discussion. Both sessions went very well, and my photos showed up in Google Earth exactly like they were supposed to. (more…)

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