After my brief side trip to Freedom Weekend Aloft, I continued my trek southward in search of ghost towns. I had mapped out a series of towns and villages that might be potential targets, starting with Owings, near where I grew up. What I had thought to be abandoned buildings were anything but.
When I was growing up, most of these buildings were empty. The front of the buildings face the Old Laurens Road, rather than Highway 14. I remember going into Stoddard’s Grocery when I was about eight. The place had antique fixtures, and was presided over by 93 year-old Boyd Stoddard. His was the last business to close, I believe.
In the 1980’s, artist Skip Shelton painted murals on some of the buildings, including the old depot. No most of the murals are gone, except for the train on the depot.
As I drove up today, it looked like plenty of activity was going on in the old business district. A church now occupies one of the buildings. The Owings Historical Society and Museum can be found in one, and the Owings Community Center in another. It looked like this was far from a ghost town, even though the buildings were old.
I drove on down to Laurens, and toured around a few more places around where I had grown up.
From Laurens, I drove down to Cross Hill, another one of my targets. Again, it was not what I had remembered. Leaman Brothers was the only building that looked remotely like it belong in a ghost town. There were a couple more stores and a post office that were clearly occupied.
The next target was Chappels, near the southern end of Lake Greenwood. There was just a combination store/post office at a crossroads, and not a business district according to my preferred definition. I kept going.
Silver Street turned out to be the same, and it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to find a collection of abandoned buildings as I had imagined. I was forced to conclude that perhaps such ghost towns don’t exist in South Carolina. There may be communities that are in decline, as was the case with Joanna, but these towns are far from abandoned. If such places are in our state, they are few and far between.