Return to Chappells

Chappells Leaning House
Chappells Leaning House

It was an absolutely beautiful day. I had planned to go to the gym then spend the day writing. Instead, I needed to get out of the house. About the time I made that decision, I got a text from Keith Dover asking what I was up to on this fine day. It sounded like a perfect excuse to get out and do some photography.

I had been wanting to get back to the ghost town of Chappells before spring and before foliage obscured the old buildings. Late February, early March is the perfect time for ghost towning. There are still no leaves and greenery to hide things. More importantly, though, daffodils are blooming. Daffodils are often tell-tale signs of old home places and former residential areas. Continue reading “Return to Chappells”

Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town

Lone Star, South Carolina
Lone Star, South Carolina

We have a tradition of looking for a good barbecue place after our paddling trips. This was no different. Our target for this outing was Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile. However, this was a two-fer – lots of good food and a chance to explore one of South Carolina’s ghost towns.

Lone Star, the Ghost Town

It started with a bit of miscommunication. The rest of the guys had never been to the town of Lone Star, and thought that the barbecue place was in the town proper. So, once we loaded up the boats, they set off, with me following, toward the town. What they found was the ghost town that I knew. All that is left of Lone Star is the old freight depot, moved from its original location, the large brick Masonic building, and two dilapidated stores. Across the tracks was a small convenience store that may or may not have been open. No barbecue anywhere in sight.

Lone Star Freight Depot
Lone Star

Continue reading “Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip

Downtown Cope
Downtown Cope

On my way down to Bluffton I passed through twenty-six small towns. In addition to that I’ve visited two ghost towns, and some of those other towns were about to cross the line into the “ghost” category. For the return trip I had a couple of options for avoiding the Interstate. I decided to retrace my way partially on 321, then branch off on 601 northbound to Orangeburg. That would take me through more small towns.

I was leaving Hilton Head fairly early, and even had time for a good breakfast leaving the island. That would give me plenty of time for exploration. That turned out to be a good thing because of some very unexpected delays, but more on that later.

So, on the way back I hit the following towns that I had visited before.

  • Hilton Head
  • Bluffton
  • Okatie
  • Hardeeville
  • Tillman
  • Tarboro

I didn’t linger too long in these, but continued on until I reached the turnoff for Highway 601.

The towns of Stokes and De Loach were little more than wide spots in the road. In Google Earth Stokes is shown off the main highway down a dirt road. It is a possible ghost town. I didn’t have that information at the time, so I didn’t venture to check it out. Next up was Furman, which I had visited via detour yesterday.

The next town on the list was Hampton, and here is where I ran into the surprising delay. I could see the main road through town was blocked with a police car with flashing lights. I saw pavilions and food vendors set up, and realized I had stumbled onto the Hampton County Watermelon Festival. It looked like there was no way through the town, so I decided to park and explore. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip”

The Lost Town of Mitchelville

Mitchelville-026
Mitchelville Park Center, Hilton Head Island

NOTE: Yeah, I’m still behind on blogging. Now I’m about two weeks behind, but I’m slowly catching up. 🙂

A few months ago I learned about an exhibit at USC’s McKissick Museum about the town of Mitchelville. As I read more about Mitchelville, I knew I had to add this one to my list of South Carolina ghost towns. The recent trip to Bluffton offered the perfect opportunity to explore this town on the northeast shore of Hilton Head.

During the Civil War Union troops captured Hilton Head Island and established that as one of their bases of operations. Beginning in 1861 escaped slaves, or “contrabands” as they were called, sought refuge on the island. The Union soldiers were unsure of what to do with the slaves, so in late 1862 General Ormsby M. Mitchel allowed the escaped African Americans to establish the town of Mitchelville. This one of the first examples of the Port Royal Experiment, where African Americans were given control of the land to work for wages.

Mitchelville Map 1864
Mitchelville Map circa 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia

Continue reading “The Lost Town of Mitchelville”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour

SC Small Towns-028
Downtown Bamberg

I’m still playing catch-up with my blogging. I’m about a week behind, but maybe over the next couple of days I can get caught up.

When Glynda first got married she lived in Savannah and our family would make the occasional trip down there for a visit. This was 40+ years ago, so I-95 was non-existent. The only way to get there was a series of two-lane roads that went through lots of tiny towns in South Carolina.

Now for the present – last weekend my paddling buddy, Matt Richardson, turned 40, and his wife, Cris, planned a surprise party for him. Since I’m now retired with nothing better to do, I decided to drive down and join in the surprise. I had the time, so I decided to replicate the trips from long ago, avoiding the interstates, and driving through all of the little towns, taking photos along the way. I also planned to hit a couple of ghost towns. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour”

Cokesbury Tour, Tabernacle, and Ninety-Six

Cokesbury-086
Old Cokesbury College Main Building

It finally happened. As many times as I’ve been here and photographed the exterior, I was finally able to get inside the old main building at the old Cokesbury College. This weekend is Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers, and as part of the event they were holding an open house at the historic location. While in Greenwood I hit a couple of other locations I had been wanting to photograph. I was joined by fellow explorers Mark Elbrecht, who alerted me to this year’s tour dates, and Alan Russell.

I had tried to do this last year. Mark was able to go down on a Saturday, but I had to delay until Sunday due to a paddling trip. Even though their website said the event would be Saturday and Sunday, when we got there Sunday morning everything was closed up tight. We never got into the building.

This year it would be different.  The Chamber of Commerce had even used one of my photos of the old building on their promotional website.  I was going to make sure that we were there on the correct day.  So, Mark, Alan, and I headed down and arrived at the site at about 10:30 am. Continue reading “Cokesbury Tour, Tabernacle, and Ninety-Six”

Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury

Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury-007

We had a great, wildly diverse weekend in Charleston, from swamps to beaches to city church yards. When planning this trip, we intentionally stayed an extra night into Monday so that I wouldn’t think about work at all on my first official day of unemployment. That meant that we could take our time coming home, and we did just that.

Laura and I love taking the back roads to and from the low country. Our plan was to drive northeast out of Charleston, then turn north through the Francis Marion National Forest. There was at least one ghost town along the way, and I was sure other interesting places would present photographic opportunities.

As we headed north on 17 I mounted the GoPro to my windshield. I wanted to get video as we crossed the the Cooper River Bridge. The video itself that interesting, but I got a couple of interesting stills. Never mind the reflection of my GPS and XM radio on the dash.

Cooper River Bridge Continue reading “Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury”

Promised Land and Beyond

Cedar Springs Church

It was a Second Saturday. Normally Alan and I would be out with our friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered exploring some river or other historic locale. There were several last-minute conflicts, so the trip fell through this month. Alan and I were still up for a photo trek, so we decided to head out on our own. We took the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite locations, the Long Cane Creek Historic Area and Sumter National Forest.

We had some specific targets in mind. However, with the beautiful morning light, it was hard not to be distracted by every old barn and homestead along the way that looked like a photographic opportunity. We would have only gotten a few miles from home if we had given in. We kept going until we crossed the border into Greenwood County, stopping first at Donalds Depot.

Donalds Depot

Continue reading “Promised Land and Beyond”

Stumphouse Tunnel and Tunnel Hill

Stumphouse Tunnel-012

This is part three of our day of adventure. It started in the wee morning hours on Bald Rock viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower, followed by the search for the ghost town Mayucha. Keith and I found some breakfast, and headed north on Highway 28 to find the ghost town of Tunnel Hill, located near the Stumphouse Tunnel.

I had been to Stumphouse Tunnel many times. However, Keith had not. My real goal was not the tunnel, but a spot on the mountain on top of the tunnel. One online source described a cemetery and several foundations – all that remains of the former town of Tunnel Hill. I was hoping to find those.

A Wee Bit of History…

The Blue Ridge Railroad Company was conceived in the mid-1800’s as a way to transfer goods from South Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a grand plan, with multiple tunnels and impressive bridges across the Blue Ridge mountains. The “easy” part of the railroad was completed from Anderson to Pendleton, and in the 1850s construction was started on the three tunnels that would be on the South Carolina portion of the railroad.

Tunnel Hill sprang up at the top of the longest tunnel on Stumphouse Mountain. It largely housed the Irish immigrants working on the tunnels. By all accounts it was a violent place, with saloons outnumbering other businesses, and frequent clashes between the Irish workers and the locals who thought that jobs were being usurped by the newcomers. Historian Jim Haughy recounts a description of the town by Rev. J. J. O’Connell, who visited the town in 1854…

Practically all the dwellings were flimsy wooden frame structures that provided little shelter from the elements. While miners with families lived in primitive cabins, unmarried miners often lodged in boarding shanties provided by other railroad workers and their families.

– “Tunnel Hill: An Irish Mining Community in the Western Carolinas”, presented at The Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association 2004

O’Connell decried the free flowing alcohol, and in addition to establishing St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the village, he was instrumental in forming the St. Patrick’s Temperance Society to get rid of the saloons and improve life in the town. Continue reading “Stumphouse Tunnel and Tunnel Hill”

Mysterious Mayucha and The Wolf Pit

Searching for Mayucha-006

After spending a Night on Bald Mountain (watching the Geminid meteor shower, not listening to Mussorgsky), Keith and I were off to find a couple of ghost towns in Oconee County. We had two locations in mind – Mayucha and Tunnel Hill.

It was still early morning when we left Bald Rock. Our path took us along Highway 11 past Table Rock. There was frost on the fields, and a mist was rising off of Lake Oolenoy.

Frosty Table Rock
Lake Oolenoy Fog Continue reading “Mysterious Mayucha and The Wolf Pit”