Dwight and I had a day available in common, so we decided to do some exploring. I’ve been trying to work through my list of locations of ghost towns, seeing if there is anything of interest at these locations – ruins, an old church or cemetery, or some actual buildings. I had several possible sites in Lower Richland, Sumter, and Kershaw Counties.
As is typical with one of our expeditions, we didn’t get to all of the spots we had marked on the map, and we found a few new interesting places along the way. Plus, I got a chance to try out my new GPS (which is basically a larger version of my old GPS.)
Charleston has long been known as the “Holy City” because of huge number of historical churches. Since we had some time in the city after our Governor’s School reunion, I wanted to check out a few of these. Specifically, I was looking for some of the signature grave stones that I’ve spotted in historic churches all over the state. Most of these sculptors lived and worked in Charleston, so I expected to find lots of them. I was not disappointed.
Charleston Unitarian Church
Our first stop was sort of spontaneous. On our way back to the College of Charleston from the restaurant where we had our reunion Cathy Ardry suggested a shortcut through the Unitarian Church yard. The passageway connects King Street through to Philips Street, and provides a shady respite from the Charleston Heat.
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.
As we walked down the old main street and looked at the ruins on our visit, I wondered if any other photographs existed of the town in its heyday. Apart from Mark’s discovery of the depot photo, I had not seen any other photos of the old town. That all changed this past week. Continue reading “More on Chappells”
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.
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.
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”
After a successful wedding we had a couple of days to spend in Roanoke. I got no sleep because of coughing, but I still wanted to make the best of our mini-vacation.
We started with a fantastic breakfast at the hotel, then spent the rest of the morning helping Glynda recover. We got the wedding gifts and other paraphernalia packed away, and got her checked out of her hotel. I drove Aaron’s car, Glynda drove hers, and Laura drove our car up to the hotel where Houston and Lynda were staying, and we got together with them and Chip, Anna, and family for lunch.
Having just married off her daughter, Glynda was exhausted both physically and emotionally. She is normally one of our heartiest ramblers, but that wasn’t going to happen today. She stayed back at the hotel, while Houston, Lynda, Laura, and I set off to see what we could find. Continue reading “Rambling in Western Virginia”
I got a note from fellow explorer Mark Elbrecht the other day mentioning that they were offering tours of Cokesbury College as part of Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers. Mark was able to do the tour on Saturday, but I was off paddling Parr Shoals. My brother Houston was in town, so we stopped by to pick up my sister Glynda and headed down toward Greenwood.
The route from Gray Court to Greenwood cuts across the Laurens County countryside. Southwest of Hickory Tavern we found ourselves at Boyds Mill Pond, an impoundment on the Reed River with a small hydroelectric plant. We stopped to take a few photos.
The river below the dam has several fishing access spots. One point looked like it would be an excellent place to launch a kayak, but it was very trashy. There were several folks fly-fishing downstream. Continue reading “Rambling through Greenwood”
About a month ago SCETV was airing an episode of Palmetto Places on Gaffney, South Carolina. I caught the tail end of a segment about the Coopersville Iron Works. I didn’t catch much of the segment, but heard enough to know that it should be a target for one of my ghost town hunts. It sounded like it would be a perfect rambling trip for this week’s Friday off.
Coopersville was one of a series of Civil War era iron furnace operations in Cherokee County. In addition to this complex, there were furnaces near Cowpens and Thicketty Mountain. Coopersville was the largest, with several factories, a post office and some stores. All of these historic iron works are on private property, and finding information about the actual location proved to be a challenge. The National Register nomination form for Coopersville was severely redacted so that no addresses were visible. Even beyond that, the name “Coopersville” didn’t show up on any GNIS listings, or on any other lists of towns that I had, historic or otherwise.
After several conversations on Google+ with my history exploring friends, Mark Elbrecht pointed me in the direction of an archeological survey done in the 1980s prior to the construction of electrical transmission lines. It contained several maps which were not redacted. I used that map as basis for my ramblings.