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”
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.
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.
I wasn’t really planning to do a waterfall excursion. Truth be told, I didn’t really have anything planned. Laura was away at her sister’s, so I had Saturday available for a solo outing. My only real thoughts were to head up to Sassafras Mountain and check out the new overlook, then just see where things went from there. Turns out it was a perfect day for catching waterfalls.
I started out early, taking 276 to Highway 11, and from there over to Highway 178. There were some low clouds giving way to clear skies, with fog hanging where those clouds touched the mountains. Table Rock was shrouded, so I didn’t pause for any photos there. On Highway 178 I got to Bob’s Place, and on a whim turned down toward the Estatoe Valley, heading toward Twin Falls.
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.
I had different plans for today. Several of my friends and I were going to go on a photo ramble through Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, so we decided to cancel that trip. I was still in the mood to do some photography, so when the rain let up in the afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed out. I had a project in mind.
I’ve stated it here, and it’s been pointed out many times that there is a church just about on every corner in Greenville. I wanted to explore a few of these. Specifically, I was interested in the older, smaller, out-of-the-way churches. Most of these are tucked away on residential streets. There are so many, that unless one has a connection to the church, most likely one would drive right by without noticing it.
With so many churches in one area, I have to wonder what services must be like. Is there that much diversity that so many are needed? It certainly fragments the church-going population. I think back to McCarter’s tiny congregation, and I know that many of these churches must be struggling to survive. Yet, that small place is a meaningful place of worship for someone. I guess they take the “where ever two or three are gathered” phrase seriously.
Part of this I can understand. There are many, many denominations and sects, and each wants its own place of worship. Then there is the segregation of Greenville’s population. I’m not talking about specifically racial lines, although there are clearly neighborhoods that were historically black or historically white, and each had its own set of churches. Greenville’s population is fractured by mill villages, and each had its own set of churches for each denomination, usually one black and one white. Given that, it’s easier to understand why there are so many in our area. Continue reading “Urban Religion in Greenville”
So far our crew from Lowcountry Unfiltered had breakfast at Battens in Wedgefield, visited the cemetery of a deranged governor, hiked part of the Palmetto trail and discovered an old railroad junction, and we were just getting started.
Manchester and Melrose
We got back to our vehicles and headed to the location of the ghost town of Manchester. The town died out with the demise of the Wilmington and Manchester railroad. All that remains are a few rural houses. We paused briefly, and left in search of a more interesting section of Manchester.
Nearby is a marking indicating the location of Melrose Plantation. Built in the late 1700s, the plantation was owned by Matthew Singleton, whose cemetery we had visited earlier in the day. We stopped at the marker and took a look around. There were a few foundation stones, and the twisted remains of a metal bed. Unfortunately the bed appeared to be more of modern than pre-Civil War origin.
We had loaded up with breakfast at Battens in Wedgefield, and now it was time to go exploring. There were eleven us, divided over three vehicles. Luckily, I had three FRS radios so we could coordinate our travels. So, we set off.
We got off the main highway, and as we entered Manchester State Forest the pavement just kind of gave out. We road on a fairly fast clip, past forested areas and farmland, most of it with “Posted. No Tresspassing” signs.
It sounds like a collegiate soccer game. We had about enough people with us to field a team. However, in truth it was Lowcountry Unfiltered’s Second Saturday outing. This being January, it was time for our annual Swamp Stomp, and we were off to tackle a section of the Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail through Manchester State Park.
Our outing would take us through ghost towns, cemeteries, and the site of Civil War destruction at the hands of Colonel Edward Potter. This was truly and epic outing, and the only way to do it justice is to break it into sections, so consider this Part 1.
Keith met me at the house far too early for a Saturday. Along the way down we picked up Alan and Dwight, so I had a car full. The Upstate would be well-represented on this trip.
A winter holiday, and I was itching to get out and do some exploring. I had a new camera to try out, and wanted to put it through its paces. Unfortunately, I couldn’t roam too far. Fellow explorer Alan came over, and we found a nice compromise. We headed over to the Pelham area to explore the old mill and Ebenezer Methodist Church.
Pelham Mill Park is one of my favorite photography destinations. There are lots of textures, water, and interesting structures for subject matter. I’ve visited in the past by myself and with fellow photographer Karen B. This was Alan’s first time visiting the park, as I was glad to have another newbie who might see something I had missed.
This site on the Enoree River was the location of one of the first cotton mills in the area. It reached its peak production in the years following the Civil War, and by the turn of the century employed 250 people and ran 10,000 spindles. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1940, leaving only the dam across the river, some foundations, and part of the old brick power station. The old mill office was across Highway 14 from the main part of the mill, and also survived. Continue reading “Two Historic Cemeteries and a Mill”