Friday, November 26, 2004

Don't Pay the Ferryman

Hammond's Ferry is slated for 850 units of residential housing, in addition to a few retailers. Housing is already up for sale and the first unit sold went for $855,475; the second brought in $129,525. However, the project is already about a year behind schedule. The area has many wetlands, most old clay pits dug by the brick manufacturers. Only a couple are going to be set aside. I don't know if this (admittedly not a clay pit) is one of them.

The development of Hammond's Ferry has actually been in the works for 15 years and the remnants of the old brick factories have been cited as one stumbling block. It's not going to be easy to move all that brick and concrete out of the bottomlands. Aiken County reports that all the brick factories were abandoned by the 1930's. The buildings don't look that old to me, but the North Augusta city administrator is quoted as saying, "When the floods of the 1920s and '30s kept coming, we just turned our back on the river and climbed up the hill." So, hell, maybe they are that old. Here's a claypit and a bit of brickwork.

Another hold-up on the development was an archaeological dig. Since Hammond's Ferry had been a river crossing it was thought that there might be some interesting artifacts in the area. I managed to find some on my own just walking around. For instance, this television set is clearly an antique. Notice the keypad that was used to change channels. Barbaric.

I have no idea how this sink got here. There wasn't much debris in this particular area. I also don't know what sorts of real artifacts, if any, the archaelogical dig yielded. No one seems to have said. Anyway, the dig is over and things can really get moving now.

When the development project began in earnest turtles crawled out of the clay pits and committed suicide en masse in protest. Honestly, there were quite a few large bleached turtle shells lying around, all upside down. Maybe they fell victim to raccoons or something. Anyway, these turtles were probably better off getting out before things got really tough. Next time we'll visit Henry Clay's favorite swimming hole.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your posts about the Hammond's Ferry area. Re: when the brick factories closed: my grandmother lived at 105 Meridian Ave (just north of the RR tracks whose roadbed is now the Greeneway) from 1947 until 1995. I can remember as a kid in the early 1950s watching a small buggy being winched to the top of a tower. My grandmother told me it was at the brick factory and the buggy hauled clay for the bricks to the top of the tower.

Anonymous said...

There are all sorts of stories about these old brickyards, which were abandoned after the 1929 flood. The pits were dug to get at the Edgefield clay, which was used since the early 1800's. Oprah and Cosby shell out $10,000 a pop and more for Edgefield pots thrown by Dave the Slave - just watch 'Edgefield' on ebay and you will see it happen.

You can still see some equipment in the tin shack down the Greeneway from the 13th St tunnel. There is a grinding tank and a screw that was used to push the clay into molds. I talked to a guy who actually made flowerpots at that shack, working after school in the early 1970's. He said it was brutal work. He also said in their heyday 500 men crossed the North Augusta bridge every day to work in the yards.

There are still some junk piles down there, full of broken pieces of old stacker jugs - you know, the ones with the corncob stoppers that you pull out with your teeth.

You can still climb down into those clay pits and see the Edgefield clay, ready to go to work. Carry some home in a 5 gallon bucket and see if you can do as well as Dave did.