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”

Update on Ghost Town Research

Mountville Store

This fall I’ve not been able to get out and explore like I normally do. However, I’ve continued to do research on potential ghost towns in South Carolina until I am able to get back out. I have several targets, some of which involve kayaking to get to them. Here’s a quick run-down of what I’m doing so far…

Several of these town are along the Savannah River. In the days before railroads many towns sprung up along its banks, only to die out as transportation routes changed and the river became less important. The list includes Purrysburg and Hamburg, and these, that I’ve recently researched:


Andersonville was located at the confluence of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers, right where the Savannah forms. By all reports it was a sizable town with stores and industry. By the late 1800’s it was already almost gone, having missed out on getting a railroad routed through it. By all reports it was a beautiful location, and became a picnic spot for residents from both South Carolina and Georgia. Continue reading “Update on Ghost Town Research”

Old Dorchester and ACE Basin

Old Dorchester-037

I’ve been able to take off on a few excursions over the last couple of months, but Laura really hasn’t had a chance to get away. With her mom in Florida, and since we had at least one day in common for this spring break, we decided to escape down to the Charleston area. However, we weren’t interested in the city itself, but the outlying areas to do a bit of bird watching. Our goal for the first day was the ACE Basin, and Beidler Forest for the second day.

Driving no the interstate was pure madness. It seems that everyone was out for a weekend away. We decided to get off of the interstate and explore some of the side roads. Laura’s comment was that “South Carolina is much prettier once you get off the interstate.”

We drove into Orangeburg, then headed south. On Highway 61 we saw a sign for the community of Sixty-Six. I’d never heard of it before, so we decided to check it out. It was an old railroad community that didn’t turn out to be much. I may have to do some further research. We did drive through Branchville, which has “the oldest railroad junction in the world.” Laura wasn’t sure about that claim, though, so I filled her in on the history of “The Best Friend” of Charleston, one of the first railroads in the US. Continue reading “Old Dorchester and ACE Basin”

Searching for Shoals Junction

Shoals Junction Ramble-027

It’s spring break for most of the Upstate school districts, and I wanted to search for a few ghost towns. Mark Elbrecht and I had bounced around some possible targets, and after looking through the South Carolina section of the Abandoned Rails website, we decided to try to find Shoals Junction, at the end of the abandoned Ware Shoals line. We would also hit a couple of other smaller communities and see what we could find.  Turns out we could hit lots of communities – eight of them in all.  I’ll try to summarize them here.

Ware Shoals

We set out down Augusta Road eventually reaching the eastern terminus of the railroad in Ware Shoals. We took a turn through the town, then headed down to the river. We drove through the riverside park, then circled past the power generation station. There were several workers, and we felt awkward stopping for photos. We retraced our steps upstream and headed beyond the bridge crossing the Saluda River. We soon reached the Ware Shoals Dam.

Ware Shoals Dam-002

Ware Shoals Dam

At the top of the dam water is diverted into a canal so that it can be routed through the power turbines below. With the recent rain lots of water was flowing over the dam.

Ware Shoals Dam-004

Ware Shoals Dam-006

An old masonry staircase led down to the river. As sign pointed to the “Fishing Trail” and “Canoe Portage.” I guess the portage was around the dam, but I couldn’t see where one would take out a canoe at the top of the dam. I guess it would be more obvious if I were on the river. Continue reading “Searching for Shoals Junction”

Congaree and Lower Richland

Starting out on the Congaree Boardwalk

Normally on a second Saturday I’d be off with the guys from Lowcountry Unfiltered. They had a great trip planned for today, but due to various reasons I wasn’t going to be able to join them. Instead, I teamed up with Dwight, his wife Sue, and son Adam to explore Congaree National Park and a bit of Lower Richland County.

Lower Richland County is located in a wedge formed by the Congaree and Wateree Rivers up to their confluence, where they become the Santee River. The area is also known as the “Cowasee” Basin, a name created by combining names of those rivers. Congaree National Park makes up most of the Cowasee Basin, but there are also lots of historical locations, including one interesting ghost town.

I headed down to Congaree on this clear, cool Saturday morning. I arrived at the park early to find an already packed parking lot. There were groups of Boy Scouts, as well as other tour groups gathering. I have to admit – I tend to be selfish with my wilderness experiences. I don’t mind others around, but lots of loud people make it hard to see wildlife. I was a bit worried.

Congaree Crowds Gather

Dwight, Sue, and Adam arrived, and soon we were off, headed down the high boardwalk. The plan was fairly simple. We would stick to the trails and boardwalks for the most part, but we wanted to do a little bushwhacking. We also wanted to find at least one champion tree. Continue reading “Congaree and Lower Richland”

A Matter of Maps

Fairfield District

I have been enjoying going through the old maps in the Robert Mills 1825 Atlas of South Carolina. However, last weekend’s photo trek to Old Pickens Court House brought out some problems with relying solely on Mills’ maps to find ghost towns. The maps are too early to catch many towns that developed after 1825, only to fade away by the time of the Great Depression. Never fear, though. There are other online resources that can cover later time periods.

Topographical Maps of South Carolina, 1888 - 1975 - Digital Collections - Thomas Cooper Map Library - USC.png by RndConnections on Aviary

The University of South Carolina’s online digital library has an extensive collection of historic topographic maps of the state. The maps cover from 1888 to 1975, but not all quadrangles are available for this time period. For example, the collection contains three maps for the Abbeville quadrangle – 1900, 1918, 1943. The 236 maps in the collection include a mix of 30 minute, 15 minute, and 7.5 minute projections. I haven’t checked to see how extensive the state coverage is, but I’m sure there are parts of the state that are not covered. Continue reading “A Matter of Maps”

More Obsessions and New Tools

Chick Springs Springhouse and Gazebo

Photo by Flickr photographer markemark4

I have yet another location-based obsession, possibly even several more. First it was fire towers, then old schools, and lately it’s been ghost towns. You would think I’d have enough abandoned historic stuff to go traipsing about the countryside to photograph and document. But wait! There’s still more!

While visiting Laurens County recently we stopped by Stomp Springs, and this past weekend we found the Shivar Springs bottling cisterns near Shelton in Fairfield County. That got me thinking about mineral springs, and where these might be located.

A 2004 Department of Natural Resources report by H. Lee Mitchell (PDF) gives some of the background of the springs and their locations. The report mentions the historical significance of springs, as well as the development of resorts and bottling facilities. These dot the state, but most are located inland of the Fall Line, as indicated by the map in the report (which I’ve imported into Google Earth as an overlay.)

Mineral Springs GE

Continue reading “More Obsessions and New Tools”