Sky Top Orchard and more

Here in the Carolinas, apples are in season from late August until early November, and my favorite kind, the tart Granny Smith apples, are currently in season. I like to buy my Granny Smith apples locally from Sky Top Orchard near Zirconia, NC because of the ease of getting there from my house and the orchard's pretty mountain top views.

In previous years heading up NC-225, I've seen some rather large roadside crosses and I've always wondered who put them up.
I thought maybe I had my answer when fellow adventurer Tom Taylor recommended reading The Carpetbagger blog by Flickr photographer Jacob K. One of the entries is about Harrison Mayes, a prolific religious sign maker until his death in 1989. Harrison Mayes planted many signs in North Carolina, but not those two. Here is an example of one of his signs from the same blog entry:
The font is the easiest difference to spot, but also the two signs were made of wood while Mayes's signs were made of concrete.

Another interesting feature traveling up NC-225 is the Staton's Grocery building near Tuxedo, NC.
Staton's Grocery was built in 1920. Robert Ballard writes a few paragraphs on the store in his book, Tales From Tuxedo. Judging by the kudzu, the store is currently not in use.

I also took a few minutes to check out the portion of the Saluda Grade railroad that passes through Zirconia.

The Saluda Grade has been inactive since 2001, when the lines were cut in Landrum, SC and East Flat Rock, NC. Despite persistent hope and rumors by rail fans the line will be returned to service, no such move appears likely at this time.

As expectted, Sky Top Orchard was busy this weekday, although not as much as it would be during the weekend.
Sky Top is kid friendly with a playground area, hayrides, and a few farm animals.
By the time I was ready to buy my apples, the crowd was thinning and the lines were much shorter than when I arrived, so checkout didn't take long at all.
As I headed back toward U.S. 25, I stopped at the Zirconia Post Office to take a photo of a building across the street I also took a photo of last year.
I'd be interested to know what business used to be here.

The post office is the only business I found driving around Zirconia, making this town a candidate for ghost town status should the post office ever close.

After re-entering South Carolina, I left U.S. 25 went down Gap Creek Road to take a photo of the River Falls Fire Department building at the intersection of River Falls Road. This building was condemned in July and the roof collapsed in September. What to do about the building is currently an open question.
I spent a nice afternoon exploring the Zirconia area and the viewing the fall mountain scenery. And I have enough apples to keep the doctor away for quite a while.

A map of the places I've been this trip:

View Sky Top and more - 2012 in a larger map

Also available is a photo album at Google Photos.


  1. Interesting photos and locations there. I hear a lot of people talk about Sky Top, but we have never made the trip there. Maybe next year.


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