Train Depots

Aiken Train Depot

I’ve always been a fan of train locomotives and the railroad. I’ve traveled on a variety of trains, no Amtrak, but on some special excursions from kiddie trains to old time trains powered by locomotives. I decided to indulge my interest in railroads by stopping at train depots and taking pictures of them and learning more of the railroad industry in South Carolina. At the website below one can see how the industry grew throughout the years starting in the 1830’s when the Charleston to Hamburg line started. There’s also a list of all the Railroad lines, passenger and freight, that existed in the state from the Air Line Railroad to the Wilson to Summerton Railroad. There’s more too so check it out.

http://www.carolana.com/SC/Transportation/railroads/home.html

Two other good website not to miss are:

http://scdepots.com/ and http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/trains-depots/

The former lists the train depots by county. Click on a county name and find all the depots by county. The latter, Sciway, has always good information but its list is not as intensive as scdepots.

The South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro has a website: http://www.scrm.org/ Check it out to see when the train trip is scheduled to run. And, of course, don’t miss The Best Friend of Charleston Museum (http://bestfriendofcharleston.org/) which features a replica of the first train in South Carolina.

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Focus on Columbia

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I’m going to be limited where I travel this year so I’ve decided to concentrate on sights in and around Columbia, our state’s capital. Every month I’ll go visit a new place for me, or maybe an old one. In January, I went to Riverbanks Zoo, but I’ll do a post on that later. Right now I’ll put links for places I’ve already written a post. There’s plenty to see and visit so keep tuned.

City of Columbia

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/columbia/

Congaree National Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/congaree-national-park/

Harbison State Forest

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/harbison-state-forest/

River Front Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/river-front-park-historic-columbia-canal/

Sesquicentennial Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/sesquicentennial-state-park/

Columbia Resources

I was surprised to find there are so little resources on tourist places in Columbia. Even the web sites didn’t do much for me although they offered some tidbits. Maybe because I already knew the sites they highlight. Maybe because they didn’t offer information on what I am interested in – low cost/no cost activities, walking tours, green spaces, and historical areas. The brochures I picked up at the visitor center are more chock full of ‘stuff’ than the websites. Book wise was the pretty much the same as the websites, general information only and emphasis on restaurants, shopping, and the higher priced activities.

Book wise the South Carolina travel books will have to do, but the websites are a better alternative.

 

Brochure Names (with associated web address)

Columbia South Carolina 5km/10km Historic Capital City Walk (www.columbiacvb.com)

General Sherman’s March on Columbia, South Carolina – Self Guided Tour (www.shermansmarch.com)

Home Places, Work Places, Resting Places: African-American Heritage Sites Tour (historiccolumbia.org)

Three Rivers Greenway (www.RiverAlliance.org)

 

Web Sites

http://www.columbiacvb.com/

http://www.historiccolumbia.org/

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/richland-county/

Courthouses

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Whenever I visit a county seat, I make sure to drive past the courthouse and take a photograph of it. Courthouses tell nice stories of history including how the county was formed. Some are pretty old, from around the time the county was created, and some fairly young. The styles vary with some ornate and picturesque and others looking like regular government buildings. Robert Mills, SC’s leading architect from the early 1800’s had his hand in a few like the one in Winnsboro (Fairfield County.)

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I’ve lived near two courthouses, the one in Hampton County which was built in 1878 and remodeled a few times. The last time they moved the fountain from the front to more to the side. The annual watermelon festival is held on the grounds of it. The Allendale courthouse was a few blocks from where I lived. The interior burned at the time a fact I didn’t hear until my mother asked me about it the next day. Even with the main road one block over I didn’t hear the sirens of the fire trucks roaring past. It’s since been renovated. Sad to say I don’t have a picture of it.

Here are a few more courthouses I’ve encountered in my travels.

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Union (Union County). This impressive neoclassical building was completed in 1913, replacing the Robert Mills courthouse of 1825. That was torn down in 1911. The police station down the road was also designed by Robert Mills.

Winnsboro (Fairfield Connty) This was designed by Robert Mills and built 1822-23. The distinctive circular staircase and piazza were added when the building was remodeled in 1939. This was when they covered the brick exterior in sandstone plaster. I think I would prefer to see the brick, but that’s just me. The picture is at the top of the post.

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Greenwood (Greenwood County) A much more modern building that was built in 1967 to replace a previous building from 1898.

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Chester (Chester County) This was built in 1852.

Sumter  sumter-sumter-downtown-03-courthouse-sumter-statue

Newberry newberry-newberry-37-newberry-county-courthouse

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To learn more about courthouses in SC, check out the website at sciway –

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/courthouses/

Fall

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I realize I’m a little behind here talking about fall colors, but maybe there’ll still be some color when this piece is published. Fall is a great time to take daytrips. You don’t even have to go that far, just drive around town and admire the trees in people’s yards. In Chester I saw the most spectacular sights of bright yellow leaves under a bare tree. It was like shards of the sun had fallen. Didn’t get a picture of that, but did get another nice fall view there.

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Chester State Park

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Sesquicentennial State Park (Columbia)

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On a stone wall around Old Brick Church in Fairfield County

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Also in Chester County, in the town of Chester, Brainard Institute

SC Hiking Books

When I plan a trip, two of the books I like to consult are these:  Hiking South Carolina by John Clark and John Dantzler and 50 Hikes in South Carolina by Johnny Molloy. I had another, but I prefer these.

While yes, they cover some of the same hikes, they also contain different ones, and one or the other goes into more detail. For example for the Big Bend Falls hike, one books describes just how to get to the falls and the other details the entire Big Bend Trail.

One is not better than the other. If hiking is your thing and, if you can, get both. I snagged both of mine at a book sale. You can find the most recent editions in a hiking store, book store, or on-line. If you can only get one, I’ll describe each and you can make up your own mind.

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50 Hikes in South Carolina

In the beginning of the book is a map of the state with the locations of all the trails mentioned in the book. With each hike description there is a topographical map useful in gauging how hilly the terrain is, but get a USGS map if the trail is rough and not well marked. The book, both of them, will tell you which one to get.

Also in the beginning is a table listing the hikes, their nearest city, the distance of trail, and other comments like if there is a waterfall or campground along the trail. The trails are divided into upstate, midlands, and lowcountry so you don’t have to go through the entire book looking for trails that are near to one another.

Each trail description is prefaced with the total distance, the hiking time, vertical rise, and difficulty rating. In the body of the description it tells you how to get to the trail head and describes the hike. There is a photo for each entry.

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Hiking South Carolina

In the beginning of the book there is a state map of all trails listed and a legend (nice) for the maps that accompany the entries. The introduction includes how to be prepared, trail regulations, a section on the natural history of the state. This book includes the longer trails such as the Foothills and Chattooga. It does not include the Palmetto trail. That’s a volume of books by itself.

Each of the 62 entries contains a map, general description, location, distance, difficulty, trail conditions, and fees, if any. The body of the entry tells one how to find the trailhead, a description of the hike, and if there are facilities or lodging nearby. With the hilly trails there’s a graph showing the change in elevation. There are maps, but not topographical ones. Not every entry has a photo.

One thing I liked about the book were the appendixes: For more information (web addresses), Further reading, Hiker’s checklist, and Hike list. This organizes the hikes by distance – short and easy to long and strenuous.

Check these books out. Your local library may have a copy you can check out to see which one you prefer.

Libraries

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Newberry – former post office now library

McBee – former train depot now library

Happy Birthday National Parks – 25 Aug 2016

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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.

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River Front Park and Historic Columbia Canal

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Located along the Congaree and Broad River is a greenway perfect for walking and jogging. Although damaged by the 2015 October flood, most, if not all, is open again. The park opened in 1983 and is a nice place to bring guests of out of town. I’ve done that several times and my visitors have always enjoyed the walk. It’s wheelchair accessible, but there is a bit of a slope from the parking lot to the path.

The 167 acre park separates the Congaree River from the Historic Columbia canal. Here is where the first waterworks for Columbia was located, the site of the world’s first textile mile to be powered by electricity.

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From the two and a half mile trail one has great views of the Congaree and the confluence of the Broad and Saluda River that make up the Congaree River. You can walk through one of the pump houses of the waterworks. The hydroelectric plant, by the way, is the oldest one in the state and still operating.

The Columbia canal is one of several canals built by the state in 1824 to provide access to settlements in the upstate. Indentured Irishmen worked on this.

How to get there

312 Laurel Street (At the end of Laurel St. Behind the AT&T office off Huger St.)

Once can also access it by the State Museum and EdVenture on Gervais near the Gervais Street Bridge

Links

http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/565

http://riveralliance.org/

What’s close by:

Historic Downtown Columbia

State House

various parks in Columbia

University of South Carolina

State Museum and EdVenture

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.

http://www.sctrails.net/trails/ALLTRAILS/Railtrails/SCRAILTRAILS.html