You see some intriguing sights along the back roads. In my back road expeditions I’ve come across ghost towns, ruins, forgotten cemeteries, log cabins, and country stores. I see some beautiful places, too. Among them, fields of sunflowers, waterfalls, whitewater rivers, rocky shoals spider lilies, and roadways rife with redtop clover.
I see some crazy things, too. Take the photo that runs with this column. Did I do a double take? No, I did a triple take. I’ve been working on a book, working title, The Last Sunday Drive -- Vanishing Southland. It’s been fun working on this book, and I’ve come across places that compel me to stop … train museums in South and North Carolina. The Southern Stonehenge, the Georgia Guidestones up near Elberton, Ga., and an old gristmill near Fountain Inn, S.C. The list goes on.
I’ve seen few spectacles that compare with this “plane crash,” complete with a lineman looking on. The mastermind behind this roadside art I hear is “Almost Nuts” Bob Ford, a name he applies to himself, I’m certain. He’s a fellow up Winnsboro, S.C., way who I hear creates a lot of unusual things … like mounting a bathtub on a motorcycle. I talked to some local gents up that way and they said he is always creating things that make people stop and look. His crashed airplane with the lineman in its path sure got my attention. It’ll grab yours, too.
Driving along Highway 34 you don’t expect to see such a sight but when you do it jolts you pretty good. Then the “aha” moment arrives … “Someone’s pretty clever,” you think. Getting that airplane into the tree, however, could not have been easy. That took some work, but it’s still there and it’s been there a good while. The first time I passed by my head snapped around and I saw the pilot hanging from a limb. I vowed to return and photograph it and finally I did. The wind and elements have changed things a bit and it isn’t as dramatic as it was, but it still commands attention.
You’ll see three sights of interest here. To the left of the “crash’ stands an old blue granite facility. Up on its rusting, multicolored roof stand large words. “Winnsboro Blue Granite The Silk of the Trade.” Mixing granite and silk seems odd but Winnsboro blue granite is famous. Men have cut many a monument, many a building, and many a tombstone from that fine-grained, dense blue granite. It helped build New York City’s Flat-Iron Building, the old Charleston Post Office, and the great dry dock of the Charleston Naval Shipyard. The same blue granite can be found in Elberton, Ga. In 2002, the Willis Dimension Stone Company of Elberton donated Winnsboro blue to Shaw Air Force Base to create a monument to firefighters who served at New York City’s “Ground Zero” on September 11, 2001.
If you want to see that old building, you’ll find it on Highway 34 just across from the South Carolina Railroad Museum, which itself is a wonderful reason to head that way. You can take a train ride there. You’ll find the crash and some beautiful old trains at 110 Industrial Park Road, Winnsboro, S.C. Mayday, mayday and all aboard! All in one place.