Sumter Carnegie Library

Libraries might not be what one might think of when sightseeing. I can even image groans coming from this suggestion. Being a librarian though I like to swing by, see the architecture of the place, and even go in and visit. They may surprise you.


Union Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Libraries are interesting for their architecture and history. Built in the early 1900’s with grants from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I believe there are about seventeen public and academic libraries built with those funds. There’s one in Union that’s still a library and one in Sumter, which sits sad and empty.


Ninety-Six Library

The main branch of the Richland County Public Library has a nice mural of the Wild Things in its children section. The library in Ninety Six has a nice mural in it too, painted by a local artist. I’ve shown a picture of it already I believe. In Chester they had a section where you could purchase used books. I did not walk away from there empty handed.

Libraries are great places to get information. In Union, you can get a map of the city to take the tour. In Greenwood I visited their new library in order to find a place I wanted to visit. The librarians are always eager to help.

newberry-newberry-49-old-post-office chesterfield-mcbee-02-old-train-depot-library

Newberry – former post office now library

McBee – former train depot now library

Happy Birthday National Parks – 25 Aug 2016


I celebrated the park service’s 100th birthday at Congaree National Park with a long hike and birthday cake. The events held that day was an excuse to head on over to hike and take more photos. The treat was just icing on the cake.

There was a ranger led hike in the morning. I missed that, but by utilizing the trail map and tour map of the boardwalk, I went alone. I did the Weston Lake Loop. It’s not that long, about 4.4 miles. It goes along a creek and also the boardwalk. The overlook was closed, so I missed out on the lake. Had I made a detour I may have still seen it, but I plowed on. The first time I visited Weston Lake I saw a gar fish. Those are like dinosaurs. I’d hoped to get a picture. Maybe next time. Congaree National Park is celebrating its 40th birthday in October. Another nice excuse to go. I have to decide what trail I’ll do next.


Rails to Trails

Barnwell- Williston - walking path

Rails-to-Trails are hike and bike paths built on former rail routes. They are relatively flat making a good surface for walking. Some are paved, some not. Some are quite long, good for riding bikes. One can rent bicycles along certain rails-to-trails paths, which is good if you don’t have a bicycle. Like me. I might have to invest in one.

Newberry - Peak - Palmetto Trail 07 trestle bridge over Broad River

Rails-to-trails came about after the consolidation of rail lines. In the 1960’s uneconomical branch lines got closed. It didn’t take long for the first hike/bike path to be created, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin. The longest, when finished, is going to be 321 miles. That’s the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska.

The longest in South Carolina is the Swamp Fox passage of the Palmetto trail at 42 miles.

All in all there’s over 750 miles of abandoned railway in our state. To find some of them, click on the link below. It’s not inclusive as it misses some shorter trails like the section of the Palmetto Trail at Peak. Here one crosses the Broad River via a train trestle. Just for that alone makes it a go-to place. Then there are rail-to-trail paths through towns like Ninety Six and Williston and many more. The one in Williston was once part of the historic Charleston to Hamburg line.


Richland - Columbia - SC history mural 01

Sometimes you come across murals when you least expect it. My favorite is the one by Blue Sky in Union. I was trying to get from A to B when I saw it. This huge train. I made a quick turn to the right, parked, and got out of the car to admire it. Cool. It’s more impressive, bigger, in person.

Union - Union - 29 Blue Sky mural

Murals aren’t just in cities, but small towns as well. Some are bright and, bang, right in your face, others may be a little dull by the sun. I’ve always liked the one off US321 in Denmark. It’s easy to miss a mural because some are on side streets and can be spotted from one direction, just keep your eyes open. Enjoy the low speed limit in the town and peruse your surroundings.

Bamberg - Denmark - Coker St 01 mural

Whether it’s a street scene, historical, commercial, or other (such as Tunnelvision by Blue Sky in Columbia on Taylor Street) murals can be found inside as well as outdoors. If you’re interesting in them, you’ll have to do your homework. The WPA mural website below is helpful, but for others not done during that era it’s serendipitious like the one in the library in Ninety-Six.

Greenwood - Ninety Six - Library mural 02

The one in Sumter of a beach scene puzzled me, but it still looks nice. It’s sort of arresting really because you don’t expect it.

There’s no web site I found with a listing of all the murals in the state, but these are helpful. lists a few too.

Town Clocks

Aiken - Aiken - Laurens St 03 town clock - Copy

Drive through a town in South Carolina and chances are you’ll see a town clock. It may be on a building or, most likely, a clock mounted on a post and pedestal (called a street or post clock). I don’t know what about them caught my attention, but on my drives and walks around towns I started noticing them more and more to the point that if I see one, I take a picture. While many of the post town clocks look the same there are little differences and it’s fun to see how many different types exist. In Barnwell there’s even a sun dial town clock. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but one day.

Lancaster - Kershaw - Town Clock 03 detail - Copy

With watches and being able to check one’s cell phone for the time, the need for a town clock has lessened, but until about the middle of the 1900’s people relied on these town clocks for the time. They were set in the center of town and usually put on the highest structure so they could be seen, or heard for blocks around.

The clocks I’ve seen are in the center of the downtown areas although many aren’t on the highest structure anymore. One that is, is the Winnsboro’s town clock. This is the longest continuously running clock in the U.S. and has been running for over 100 years.

Fairfield - Winnsboro - 01 Town Clock Christmas - Copy


Day Trips in South Carolina Workshop

If by any chance you are in Columbia, SC on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 and are interested, come by Sandhills Library for my Day Trips in South Carolina workshop. It’ll be held from seven to eight pm. I’ll have photographs from my trips, but the main goal is to help people find places to visit. I’ll offer resources and where to go and get more resources. I hope others will share their favorite places too.


Fairfield - Ridgeway - 02 old Police Station

Ridgeway’s Smallest Police Station in the World prompted me to make the trip to this small town in Fairfield county. Of course, the police have moved on to another, larger, location, but the first building remains and is used as a visitor center. While not manned, at least when I visited, it did offer brochures including a coveted, for me, Walking Tour guide. The brochure makes a walk around a town much more enjoyable because you know what you’re looking at. I must commend the people who made the brochure as it is easy to read and informative.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been in Ridgeway. The ‘Big Grab’, an annual forty-odd mile garage sale route runs through here and I’ve stopped to peruse the booths. This time, however, I had my camera and meant to see the sights with no distractions.
One can easily walk through the town. Historic downtown runs along Palmer Street/US21, and then over to Dogwood Ave/SC Highway 34. Some sites you may want to drive to such as St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Vaughan/Blair Stagecoach Inn.
Ridgeway was originally called New Town. It changed its name after the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad came by and chose a route for their railroad tracks along the ‘ridge way’.
One place I would have liked to have more information on was the doorway at the park. It’s located in the park on Longtown Rd and turns out to be remains of a school. It’s very interesting and a great place to take a picture. A fun picture is at the phone booth. Kids will like that. They may have never even seen one before.
By-the-way, Ridgeway isn’t the only town boasting a teeny, former police station, Olar in Bamberg county has one too.

How to get there:
Ridgeway is located on US21, on the east side of I-77.


What’s Close By
Wateree State Park
Great Falls

Pocket Gardens

My definition of pocket gardens are tiny green spaces usually in an unexpected place and usually with a bench in which to enjoy the sculpture and flora that inhabit it. I came across two along US321 when I stopped to take pictures. One was in Olar, Bamburg County, and the other in neighboring Orangeburg County, in Norway. Both are small towns and the gardens came as a complete surprise. I’ve been going down this stretch of road for fifteen years and never, ever, once knew they existed. It really makes me wonder how many other pocket gardens I’ve been driving by.
Both gardens are in the downtown area. In Olar, it’s near the post office, maybe a few buildings down. There’s an old Exxon (could have been Esso) station that I stopped to take a few photos of, then I wandered on down to see what else I could photograph.

Pocket Garden Olar

And there was. I mean, it’s not hard to miss and easy to see from the road, but I never once noticed it as I was drove past. Maybe I was concentrating too hard on staying the speed limit, but still.
The flowers were in bloom and butterflies fluttered about. It’s a nice and tranquil spot.

Pocket Garden Norway

The garden in Norway is a bit harder to spot. It’s by the courthouse, which isn’t easy to find either since it doesn’t look much like one would expect a courthouse to look like. The courthouse is next to the small bell tower. Continue south on the sidewalk and it’s there, a small opening between two buildings. It’s like finding a pot of gold.

Andrew Jackson State Park

Lancaster - Andrew Jackson SP - 07 old school

Saturday may be the best day to visit this park as this is the day the office is open, but if you are more interested in doing the trails or camping, any other day is fine. Mostly I wanted the office to be open so I could stamp by Ultimate Outsider book because the stamper by the kiosk was damaged. Otherwise I had a perfectly good time. And, on the bright, side, I can go back again and see what I missed. Next time I’ll make sure to go on a day when they have a living history program. March will probably be the best time since there’s a birthday celebration to honor Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson State Park was created in 1952 and is named after the seventh president of the United States who born, 1767, close to this location. He attended church at the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church located close by.

A highlight of the 360 acre park is the large bronze statue of Andrew Jackson astride a horse, Andrew Jackson, A Boy of the Waxhaw. It was created by Anna Hyatt Huntington. More of her works as well as other American sculptors are showcased at Brookgreen Gardens in the Lowcountry. I enjoyed the one-room school house located near the parking area.

The museum contains items related to President Jackson as well as Revolutionary War artifacts. It’s open over the weekend from 1pm – 5pm. Otherwise it’s by appointment.
One place I missed in the park that I need to go back and visit is the Historic Orchard and Herb garden. I have a black thump when it comes to plants, but I do enjoy heirloom plants and I like to see what they were used for in early times. These showcase used in the Carolina backcountry in the 1700’s.

There are two trails in the park, both around a mile long. There is also fishing and birdwatching. The campground is popular and the lake offers boat rentals. Check the website to see if there is a history program going on. These include tours of the battlefield, living history days, and weapon demonstrations.

How to get there:
The park is located on US521 several miles north of Lancaster. You can take Exit 77 from I77, and head east on US21/SC5. Continue on SC5 to US521 where you’ll turn left. The park is only a short distance away.

Andrew Jackson State Park

What’s close by:
Catawba Culture Center
Landsford Canal SP
Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church cemetery (where Andrew Jackson’s father and two brothers are buried)

Sandy Beach WMA

Berkeley - Sandy Beach WMA - 09 lake

For such a pretty place, there’s little information to be found on this wildlife management area.
The day I visited was overcast. That didn’t stop from having a good time. The park is located southwest of Pineville off SC45. The fire tower is a good landmark as Sandy Lane is almost opposite. Follow the road to the parking area, a small area by the gate. Not far from that is a dike from which one can see plenty of water fowl frolicking in the water. I could hear some splashing in the water near by hidden in the vegetation close by. I guess I don’t have much patience because I never spotted those.
To the west, in the distance I could see smoke from the energy plant operating close by. While it’s there, it’s not in your face and you only catch glimpses of it. A section of the Palmetto trail passes through Sandy Beach joining the trails that run through. The trails run along the dikes, past waterways, and through woods.
Note that some portions in the park are only open from March to October.

How to Get There
Take I-95 to exit #98 and go southeast on SC #6 33.9 kilometers (21.1 miles). Turn left onto SC #45 and go northeast 15.3 kilometers (9.5 miles). Look for the fire tower. Turn right onto Sandy Beach Road (unpaved) and follow this road into the Wildlife Management Area. There is a small parking area on the right hand side outside the area.

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What’s Close By:
Francis Marion’s tomb
Canal WMA
St. Stevens Episcopal Church
Lake Moultrie
Palmetto Trail