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August Fun Trip - Wilmington, NC to Sumter, SC and back

It was my turn to head to Wilmington and visit my friend Joe Babyak this past weekend for a phototrip. So Saturday, from Wilmington we headed to Sumter, SC and back. It was a pretty good trip with great photos along the way.

Route: US 76, I-20 Business Spur, I-95, US 76, US 401, US 76 Business, US 378, US 401, SC 34, I-95, NC 130, NC 130 Business, NC 130, US 74, NC 214, US 74, US 76 and local streets in Wilmington.

For the entire photo set on flickr (over 80 photos) go here!

Ok and yes for the folks that like signs...here's a starter for ya!

Which way should we go? How about West on US 76 towards Fair Bluff - where the first stop was. Fair Bluff is a small town that sits on US 76 and along the Lumber River.

In Fair Bluff, there was a fruit stand - the first of many we say on Saturday.

Fair Bluff sits right on the Lumber River which is a national Wild and Scenic River - and if you have ever crossed the river on some of the backroads in the state you know why. The river has a slow moving darker hue to it - and it is very popular with canoeists and fishermen.

US 76 doesn't cross the river here but NC 904 does.

Finally, in town a block off of US 76 is an old lumber yard. Something tells me, the Kresky Even-Heaters aren't new anymore.

US 76 through Florence has a bit of everything - old churches, old neon sign drive-ins, and old signs. It's certainly a lot more fun than the six lane I-95 a few miles to the west.



Plus, I did 'experience' I-20 Business Spur - if you count a few traffic lights and nothing spectacular experiencing.

After a brief jaunt on I-95 for one exit, we head back on US 76 and towards Sumter. A few miles west of I-95 was this old gem - the abandoned Cartersville Grocery (and Grill).



It just needs a little upkeep!

So it was on to Sumter - and it has a very pleasant and vibrant downtown. The one thing that stood out to me the most was the Sumter Opera House which dates to the 1890s and is the focal point of the entire city.

There are also a number of great historic church buildings, the Sumter County Courthouse, and plenty of other historical buildings within Sumter's downtown.

Sumter County Courthouse

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church

First Presbyterian Church of Sumter
On a roads related note, the old style button copy guide signs on the US 378 Sumter Bypass that AAroads talked about in 2007 are gone. They are replaced with the current version of South Carolina guide signs.

US 401 is pretty much non-descript and we followed that to SC 34 in Darlington. SC 34 is a pleasant drive and just a mile or two prior to I-95 we came across this old barn/garage in the middle of a cornfield.

Sometimes, you get that right setting and the right time of day (it was about 7:00 in the evening) where everything as a photographer comes out just right. With the cornfield, the storm clouds (we ran into them in North Carolina) in the distance, the late afternoon/early evening sunlight behind you, it made for my favorite shots of the trip. We walked around here a good 5-10 minutes and only one car went past. It was true summertime in rural South Carolina.


Back in North Carolina, I picked up new mileage on NC 130 (to go with new mileage on US 74, US 76, US 401, and SC 34 for the day) before hitting US 74 and then taking the old two lane US 74 (now NC 214) east of Whiteville.

NC 214 has a lot of photo opportunities from rural crossroads, to abandoned gas stations and buildings, and just off the highway is Lake Waccamaw. Unfortunately, darkness was catching up to us - but there is always another time. However, I did walk around the tiny crossroads community of Hallsboro where a tiny General Store called Pierce and Company has been operating since 1898.

I guess not everything does close when the old road gets bypassed.

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