A little further down Highway 421 and we come to this abandoned treat shack. You know your town is in trouble when people aren't even buying ice cream. Fifty feet away was a monument of some kind, with flags and plaques and a paved walkway, but no one to be seen. Following the highway through the Valley you pass abandoned buildings, crumbling homes, and businesses hanging on by a thread. Rural economies have always been tenuous, and the situation seems to be worsening across the country. Just drive through the small towns of YOUR state.
As we were driving along Highway 421, my companion told me of a strange restaurant set back in the woods off a dirt road. We decided to check it out. We turned off the main road and into the woods. After a distance we came to this little shack, beyond which was a fenced-in compound of sorts, with a circular drive. A few cars were parked outside a dilapidated building, the stars 'n bars flying. You don't think we actually went in, do you? Although, I am reminded of another restaurant in Jackson, SC, which recently closed. The floor of this establishment was pitted concrete, except where it had collapsed and was roped off with flagging. Old rusted bicycles and fans were strewn about and in one corner of a long bar, which was covered with boxes and essentially unusable, was a dusty, yellowed NASCAR shrine. You could see daylight through the warped doorframe. I ate there quite a few times. The macaroni and cheese was quite good, as were the butter beans.
In between Highway 421 and the Aiken-Augusta Highway is an entire block of abandoned homes, as well as a bar and restaurant. Actually, the restaurant recently collapsed. Unfortunately, I visited this area early in my explorations and didn't get my photos digitized. So, unless I scan them at some point I won't be able to post any, which is too bad since there's lots of material. I have a nice shot of a blue and white room in a house, with a recliner in the middle of the floor, and vaguely menacing (and very mispelled) Spanish graffiti sprayed on the wall in dripping red paint. But I can't post it! The only digitized shot I have of this block is this photo of a piano and TV from the living room of a small house. People are always leaving their pianos behind. They're very common in old buildings. Even DETROITBLOG recently posted a picture of one. See how the piano and TV are starting to tilt toward each other? Imagine what that means for the structural integrity of the floor. But, you know, safety last, I guess. The browning in this shot is due to it being taken with a disposable camera. Disposable cameras have very poor flashes. Lately I've been posting photos of questionable quality and technique when I think they might be otherwise interesting. Maybe I should stop that. If you'd like to see a better shot of what the old mill towns looked like, there's a good shot two-thirds of the way down this page.