Friday, January 10, 2014

Cotton Country USA

An overdue post here I had held off making because I thought I would be back another time when it was actually open, but I've been back twice and the place has been closed both times. Over a year ago now work took me to Santee, SC- about an hour southeast of Columbia, SC and just off 95. I had an afternoon to kill and spent it driving around checking the area out-- mostly farmland and predominately cotton from what I saw.  I don't know much about cotton but I'm assuming it was harvesting time, all the crops were full and in some areas cotton would drift along to the edges of the road as you drove by. I came up to what looked like a restaurant- Lone Star BBQ & Mercantile.  Clearly closed, not a car or person in sight.  The place consisted of 4 buildings all adjoining one another and all with different signs above the entrances.  I got out and started taking photos of the place and all the old odds and ends around the property. As I'm doing this a pickup truck pulls into the parking lot an old guy hops out and asks me what I'm doing there.  After it was clear that I was interested in the buildings and their history he stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Pat Williams I own the place."  He told me to help me carry some boxes inside and he'd open the whole place up for me to check out. I did and it was well worth it- he let me wander around and answered any questions I had.

The 4 buildings were all their own separate general type stores in their past, operating throughout the surrounding counties and they were brought to the current location to open the restaurant/gift type general store.  Back when they were in operation these stores offered goods & postal services for locals as well as people passing through with the railroad.  I found a video on youtube with Pat talking outside the place.  It's at the bottom of the post here and he gets into much more detail.

Some things really stuck out to me-  I asked Pat if he was a collector and he said no and that all the contents of the buildings had either come with them from their original locations or were given to him. He let me know that everything was original then pointing at a replica Indian motorcycle sign he said- Thats not, but a friend who raced Indians years ago gave it to me. Fair enough. The Coca Cola painted advertisement on the side of the one building (2 pictures of it below)-- The engineer was painted to the likeness of the original store owner back in the time he owned it.  This made a boring afternoon not so boring and when your traveling all over by yourself its experiences like this that make it pretty enjoyable.

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