Monday, April 27, 2009

More of the Unusual: Rhinoceroses, Lighthouses, Vultures, Graffiti, and a Memorial Service Station

Today, I went for a ride along most of a route suggested by Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine in their Early Spring, 2009 issue. Recall that Motorcycle Lifestyle is a locally-published magazine covering all aspects of motorcycling.

Nearly every month there is a route mapped out that is usually within a hundred mile radius of Greenville South Carolina. The route I took is called "Get Lost, The Pumpkintown Route." It tracks through the countryside just to the south of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, with some mild twists and turns and several points of interest.

Image copyright Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine.

On my way to the route, I check out a railroad underpass that has become the repository for graffiti artists over the years. This one is in Liberty South Carolina, and passes under the railroad line that also goes through Easley and past Collins Ole Town near Seneca, SC, where I visited back in March 2009.

This underpass is narrow, only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. The scratches and grooves on the pavement seem to indicate that there have been some conflicts here between vehicles.

The lintel is also chipped, probably by some over-height vehicle trying to squeeze through.

Another sight very close to this is a former service station that is built with a very steep roof. It was once clad with slate roof tiles, but they have been removed in the last few years for a conventional (and mundane) asphalt shingle roof.

The inscriptions on a marker, shown above, that is embedded in the building wall read:










A marker nearby:

The building was once a Shell gasoline station, built with a high degree of architectural style in the 1930s. The design and materials of construction convey a quality image that was probably an aid to marketing the products sold. This specimen has been modified over the years, and has been dedicated to World War veterans. Locally, it is known as the Rock Station, built of stone quarried a few miles away.

When the station was active, the main road was the one now running through the underpass with the graffiti painted in it. The gasoline pumps were on that side. The present railroad overpass, toward the left just outside the above photo, was built in later years to eliminate that one-lane bottleneck.

The World War marker refers to the First World War, of course, since it was erected in 1935. The reverse side of the monument contains the names of the veterans from the area.

The monument was damaged when a car ran into it, and it was in pieces for many years until a local resident, Mrs. Julia Woodson, rescued it and reassembled the pieces on the ground under a Magnolia tree in her yard. The front of the monument was able to be pieced together and remains visible, but the rear, listing the names of the veterans was not repairable. It turns out that the list of names originally included only white veterans. The list was revised to include all veterans before the present monument was engraved, adding twelve names.

Mrs. Woodson is still around, now into her ninth decade. She is a very pleasant woman who spoke with me at length about the history of the monument. These are Pickens Sentinel newspaper accounts she loaned me telling of the repairs and resetting of the memorial:

December 8, 2004

February 2002

May 2002

Note in the photograph in the second article that the current rear of the building (the former front) has a porch extending out from it. Apparently the gasoline pumps were under a porch similar to that, perhaps larger, and the porch was used as a dance floor. In later years, the building was expanded to became a restaurant, then restored in the 1990s to its more original appearance. Mrs. Woodson said that there used to be a lily pond, now long gone, in front of the face of the marker.

It was a surprise to me to find that Mrs. Woodson is a local historian who has coauthored a book with G. Anne Sheriff about the town of Liberty, entitled Liberty South Carolina, One Hundred Years 1876-1976, published in 1992. In fact, Mrs. Woodson still has copies of the book for sale. I have put in my order.

This is a picture of the name side of the war monument as it originally appeared. This photograph is from Mrs. Woodson's book. I believe the lily pond was behind the monument as pictured.

Mrs. Woodson has also been an active chronicler of cemeteries in Anderson County, SC, has helped identify a lost slave cemetery, and has been affiliated with the United Daughters of the Confederacy for more than 52 years. Mrs. Woodson is a delightful soul who I enjoyed meeting very much.

It may surprise you that there are also rhinoceroses in our neck of the woods. That is correct, you read it right. In fact there are at least two. They reside on the grounds of the United Tool and Mold shop, an Easley maker of molds for plastics and metal casting.

Now I know you want to see these creatures, so I have snapped a few pictures of them for you.

That is one of United Tool's trucks behind the rhinos.

And here are the rhinos' behinds.

They can be found here if you want to visit them in person.

The story behind the rhinoceroses, told in the words of a United Tool and Mold spokesman:

"Our owner, Scott Phipps, started our company with the purpose of being the most responsive mold repair house in this area. With that comes the mindset that we can do whatever, whenever, and for whomever needs it. Simply put, we do whatever our customer needs – timing is not an issue, complexity is not an issue, we have the mentality that we have to get it done.
"Scott read the book Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander and felt that this was the way that our company would be. The book holds a lot of lessons in setting goals, changing your mentality, and charging towards your goals – basically having a Rhino mentality. Rhino’s don’t back down, and they never stop – they are constantly charging forward. After reading the book, Scott felt that the shop had to take on the same mentality – never back down from challenges and always charge to keep our customers up and running.
"Scott’s partner was in Myrtle Beach and ran across the Rhinos and automatically thought of UTM. After purchasing the Rhinos he had them shipped on a flatbed to us. Scott still has the picture of all of the guys in the shop outside beside the truck with the Rhinos on the flatbed. Over the years, the Rhinos have become a part of our story here at UTM. We decorate them for Christmas and Easter and have had numerous people stop to take pictures on top of them.

"A couple of years back the baby rhino was stolen and we didn’t hear anything about it for almost 8 months. We had numerous calls wondering where the rhino went, we even had a mother call and say that her 4 year old son was traumatized that the rhino was gone. That Christmas, we dressed the mother rhino up in her Santa hat and made a sign that read
“All I want for Christmas is my baby back”. We didn’t think anything would come of the sign, just a way to let everyone know that we missed our rhino. Long story short, we had a gentlemen call us and let us know that he thought he knew where our baby rhino was and we were able to do a little investigating and track it down and get it back. The Easley Progress even ran a story of it in the newspaper.

"Sometimes we take for granted that our Rhinos out front are more than decoration. For us, the rhinos stand as a reminder that we have to continually charge forward, not letting little things stand in our way of our bigger goals. We often speak of our rhinos in conversations and while giving directions. We always ask “Do you know where the rhinos are on hwy 93?”, and most of the time the people know exactly where we are.
"So, the rhinos are, quite simply, a way of life for us. From a motivational book, to the statues, to the changing of our company’s mentality – the rhinos are a constant reminder of what we must continue to do."

United Tool was established in 1995 in Inman, SC and moved shortly thereafter to the current Easley plant. The rhinos arrived in 1996. They also have a plant in Duncan, SC that was started in 2003.

The rhinos are more than just a yard ornament for United Tool. They symbolize the company's way of doing business. Industry in the United States would be better off if more of them thought that way.

And, if you want to show off your own rhino, you can buy a Rhino Success painting from this website.

Well, the rhino story was unusual. But wait, there's more! (But no Ginsu knives, sorry.) There is a lighthouse in the middle of quite dry land here and about.

It is in front of the B. J. Skelton Career Center, a vocational school at the corner of Griffin Mill and Breazeale Roads in Liberty.

That name Breazeale, pronounced Brazil, comes from a legislator of years gone by whose name is Harold D. Breazeale, Sr.

The significance of the lighthouse is that the school has received a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School Award from Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, Inc., Chapin, SC. The award was presented to this school in December of 2006. Schools are identified and selected for this award based on achievement of excellent performance in nine major categories of the Blueprint for Excellence:
  • Student Focus and Support,
  • School Organization and Culture,
  • Challenging Standards and Curriculum,
  • Active Teaching and Learning,
  • Technology Integration,
  • Professional Community,
  • Leadership and Educational Vitality,
  • School, Family, and Community Partnerships, and
  • Indicators of Success
Blue Ribbon Schools, Inc. charges a stiff fee to the school to do an assessment. I can't help but wonder what the school administration is being paid to do.
Anyway, the lighthouse was built by the Horticulture class at the school and stands in its front yard.
The view of the Blue Ridge Escarpment from here is interesting, and you can easily pick out Table Rock. It is that rock outcropping visible just above the trees there in the distance in the right third of the upper photo. It is about sixteen miles to the north as the crow flies from here. By road it is a little further, but well worth the trip.

You can get to Table Rock from here (always a good thing to be able to get there from here) by following this route.

I take a side road from the school and happen across a flock of large birds that are very interested in something laying on the ground.

The birds are American Black Vultures (referred to as Turkey Vultures locally), and I am not certain what they are so being passionate about eating there.

I don't want to get too close, for fear that they will come after me to protect their meal. It almost looks like a big fish they are feeding on, but is it and how could it have gotten here?

I note that the birds seem to be rather well mannered as they dine. Each bird takes his turn without interfering with the others. For some reason, I have never thought of vultures as being mannerly creatures at their dinner table.

My curiosity not being satisfied, I went back three days later to find only this left:

As it turns out, it was a large catfish. Some fisherman must have caught it, then discarded it along the road. The vultures sure seemed to like its flavor!

The length and width of the remains are about 32 inches long by 10 inches wide, and it had been dragged some twenty five feet away from the original spot where I had seen it.

...and about fifteen days after the feast, this is all that is left:

Come to think of it, I have told some rather unusual animal stories lately. Remember the soon-to-be turtle stew story? Also, come to think of it, I have found a number of things on dry land that you usually don't find there. Among them, a big fish and a lighthouse.

I know it would be hard to top a story about vultures finishing up a catfish far away from water, but another point of interest awaits. I happened across it for the first time was when I was wandering around lost while trying to find Ryan's house for that first ride with him.

It is also a lighthouse. This one is actually surrounded by water -- often a prerequisite for needing such a thing. Now you might ask where a lighthouse might be located three and a half hours inland from the Atlantic. No, it is not in one of the man-made recreation/hydroelectric power generation lakes to the west of Easley. Rather it is found at Tall Pine Lakes here on Moody Bridge Road. It is that little dot in the water to the east and south of the "A" stickpin.

View Larger Map

It sits on a small island and appears to be constructed at least partially of concrete block. I have not been able to find much public information about it, and have not taken the time to find the landowners to ask.

And a closer look.

Note the fog hovering above the water's surface, made visible by the back lighting of the early morning sun. It gives the scene a nice look, I think. Artistic, even, though purely by chance.

Anyway, the lighthouse is a picturesque and interesting sight that is quite unexpected, as are many of the other points of interest in this area. I continue to be surprised at the variety of unusual things to see around here. If you have been following my blog postings, you have already heard about some of them, but there are many more to come!

Near the lighthouse, I spot another interesting and gossamer sight: Spider webs glistening with dew, also back lighted by the morning sun. There are hundreds of them in an overgrown field adjacent to where I have stopped to photograph the lighthouse. Those spiders have been very busy.

Here are a couple of pictures of the lake and lighthouse taken May 23, 2009 when I took the same route.

At the north-east corner of the Motorcycle Lifestyle map is a note that says Caesars Head is only seven miles north of the Get Lost route. I decide to go that way and see what the view is like today. It turns out that it is better than usual. The bluish haze of the Blue Ridge is not as heavy today, so I can see further.

Here is the route up to Caesars Head, from the MountainMapper website:

They say that the climb is 2038' over 7.7 miles, with a 5.5% average grade. The steepest grade is 10%:

The view, sweeping left to right, from the overlook, which is at 3266' elevation:

One of the views above usually looks more like this, taken in March of 2009:

There is a U.S. Geological Survey Benchmark at the overlook.

Did you notice my shadow placement in the picture? It almost looks as though my shadow is wearing my helmet. You can also see my reflection in the helmet.

Further along the route, on Back Park Road, I happen across a small lake and a picturesque barn with a vintage truck parked in it. This barn doesn't look very old, but it is attractive none-the-less, especially with the mountains as it's backdrop.

I enjoy the rest of my leisurely jaunt along many of the roads in the Get Lost route. I finally reach home and inspect my bike. My Ninja got pretty muddy today, the roads being wet from the previous night's rain...

...but a little soap and water and a touch of wax clean things up nicely.

I have put on about 101 miles today, seeing the varied sights the area has to offer.

* This is in error. A fellow blogger, Philip Smith, who writes At Liberty to Say, let me know on March 1, 2010 that the town of Liberty was actually not named as described above. Instead,

"Liberty was named after the train station stop called Liberty Station - not after war vets. None of those wars had taken place when Liberty was formed as a township.

"[The town of Liberty] was originally called Salubrity Springs [chartered in 1876]. [The] springs ... run in an underground watershed and come to a head right at the old train station (now fancily bricked)."

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I really like that lighthouse picture with the fog coming off the water. Very cool!