Union County Photo Trek - September 2016

Lockhart Bell
Uniquely Union is a festival in Union, SC I've been attending  the past several years now. The main draw for me is the Taster's Choice where you sample pork BBQ from a number of BBQ vendors then vote for your favorite sample. I also take the opportunity to visit some historical sites of interest to me, and this year is no exception.

This year I settled on visiting Lockhart, a small incorporated town in South Carolina on the Union County side of the Broad River.
Welcome to Lockhart
But my first stop would be an abandoned country store off S.C. 49 on the other side of the Broad River in Chester County, next to the Broad River Mart convenience store.
Lockhart area country store - 3
...then a backtrack over the river and the county line back into Union County and Lockhart. My first stop was Lockhart Town Square off Mill Street.
Lockhart Town Square
I didn't know anything about the bell at the time, but I guessed it was either from a school or the mill across the canal. My mill guess was the right one. I found a 1998 article in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal explaining the history of the bell and how it came to be here:
For years, the people lived by the bell housed in a tower over the four-story textile mill.

Now they are taking steps to make sure this community timepiece is preserved with a fund-raising project to build a monument for the bell.

The bell toned several times a day, including when it time for employees to come to work, time for them to go to lunch, and time to get off work for the evening.
McShane Bell Foundary
The mill was located across the canal from the mill village. A foot bridge across the canal allowed access between the mill village and the mill.
Lockhart Mill steps - 1 No swimming, no boating
Lockhart Mill began operating in 1894, powered by the hydroelectric dam now owned by Lockhart Power. The mill once was the second largest in the county, and at its peak employed 750 people, according to an architectural survey of Union County. Following a familiar pattern here in South Carolina, the mill closed permanently in 1994. The mill was demolished in 1997. All that remains of the mill now is the chimney.
Lockhart Mill chimney Entrance to Lockhart Mill
The buildings left along the canal are for the hydroelectric dam, built in 1893-1894 to power the mill and later the town. In 1912, Lockhart Power was incorporated by the state of South Carolina. The company currently supplies electricity to areas in Union, Chester, Cherokee, York, and Spartanburg Counties.

The history of the canal itself dates back well before the hydroelectric dam. Ola Jean Kelly, director of the Union County History Museum, showed me an informative book from their library, The Narrative History of Union County South Carolina by Dr. Allen Charles (available to buy from their gift shop), that covers the history and failure of the canal. I'll summarize what I learned:

The Lockhart Canal, designed by famed architect Robert Mills, was mostly complete in 1823, but not opened until 1826 due to disputes and floods. The canal was built as part of a canal system designed to add more navigable water routes and increase commerce. Lockhart Canal was built to bypass Lockhart Shoals, a section of the Broad River that proved tricky to navigate.
Lockhart Canal - 2
The revenue collected from the tolls covered the lock keeper's pay and maintenance of the canal, making the canal break only at its busiest. Local pressure kept the canal open for a few decades, including some maintenance work in 1851, but sometime in the 1850s the canal was finally abandoned.
Lockhart Canal - 5
The shoals and the canal, the mill, and town were all named after James Lockhart, an early settler in the area. Sciway has more photos and a less condensed history of the canal.

The houses look rather typical of the mill towns I've seen. Some in town are better maintained than others. It's a nice place if many houses flying the Confederate flag is your thing.

I visited as many places as possible before it was time to leave for the Taster's Choice event at the Uniquely Union festival, but I couldn't hit them all. I made it all of Lockhart's churches (I think). I found a surprising number of churches for such a small town.

Lockhart First Baptist:
Lockhart First Baptist Church - 1
Lockhart United Methodist:
Lochart United Methodist Church - 2
Lockhart Presbyterian:
Lockhart Presbyterian Church - 2
and the Lockhart Church of God:
Lockhart Church of God - 2
I had wanted to stop by the former Hope Hospital (now a mission), but the place was busy and no parking was available. I did capture a photo of a table from the hospital, donated to the Union County Historical Museum. Ola is seated at the end of the table.
Union County History Museum - 4
I had also went looking for two schools, neither of which I expected to find. First was Lockhart High School whose photo is in the SC School Insurance Photograph database.
I found this plaque in the area where I expected the school to be:
Lockhart High School marker
Google's newspaper archives has an article about the fire in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal's Feb 6th edition.

I kept an eye out for the Lockhart Grammar School, but I didn't see it. Here's a photo of the school from the school insurance database:
I took a few quick photos of the former armory, now a family life center for Lockhart First Baptist Church...
Lockhasrt First Baptist Family Life Center - 1
... before moving on to the two Lockhart Schools. This is the location of another former Lockhart High School, built after the first one burned. Now both an elementary and a middle school are located here.
Lockhart Schools - 3 Lockhart Schools - 1 Lockhart Schools - 5
It was almost time for the Taster's Choice event, so I had to leave town. I  had to leave behind some sites that'll keep until some other visit. I made time to visit Scales Grocery in my list of POIs since it was directly in the path, located on the southwest quadrant of the intersection of S.C. 49 and River Road.
Scales Grocery - 2
I ended up in Union about 15 minutes late for the start of the Taster's Choice event. I parked in my usual parking lot, but this year the festival was in a slightly different location near USC Union instead of on Main Street like the past few years.

I made up for my tardiness with 10 delicious samples of BBQ.
Uniquely Union Taster's Choice - 2
I'm not a big fan of mustard based BBQ sauces, but I ended up voting for the vendor, Callie Q BBQ, whose mustard based sauce I liked the most out of all. All of this year's pork BBQ sample were excellent, making choosing one to vote more difficult for me than in recent years.

In past years, I walking around taking photos of area historical points of interest and stop by the Union County Historical Museum during my photo walk. But this year, it was just too hot this year for a photo walk so I headed straight for the museum.
Union County History Museum - 2
Museum director Ola Jean Kelly was there, as usual during my yearly visits, along with a few curious visitors. I mentioned my visit to Lockhart, and she showed me the book with information about Union County that I described above. I also perused a binder with old photos of Lockhart places and people. I didn't see any other exhibits from Lockhart besides the Hope Hospital table.

Ola mentioned one thing in passing that concerned me. The museum hasn't been only been half funded by the county council for two years now, and the museum may be forced to close next June if not funded by the council. I really, really hope this doesn't come to pass. This museum is one of the best in the area, and I'd hate the see it close down. If you're a resident of Union County, consider asking your council member to better support the museum. Ola and her staff do great work there and I'd hate to see it come to an end.

I've uploaded my trip photos to an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos.

I found this 1964 photo of the old Lockhart train depot and the rail running by the canal at the SC Digital Library:
The brick wall behind the depot is on Canal Street, and now serves as the town mural:
Welcome to the beautiful town of Lockhart
The old railroad right of way must have ran parallel to the canal:
Lockhart Canal Crepe Myrtles - 1
I also found two interesting silent videos on Youtube documenting life in Lockhart in 1937:


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