Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Murals, Rain...and Direction Needed.

Back on July 11, 2010, I took a little trip to some destinations south of home.  I usually don't do that except in the winter and early spring when the roads in the mountains to the north may be covered in slick leaves, ice, or sand and gravel.  The roads to the south are flatter and straighter. 

This time, I chose to go that way because it was supposed to rain, and because I wanted to nab the tag posted on the local motorcycle forum, CarolinaRiders.  The picture showed a mural with a railroad theme painted on the side of a building, along with the cryptic clue, "Donald Duck could have painted this, but I doubt it."

I studied the photo and decided it was not one of the murals I have previously seen and written about, so I had to do some research.  (See, there is a cerebral side to motorcycling!)  

I started out looking on the Internet for a town named Ducktown in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia, since our forum tag game rules say the tags must be within 125 miles of The Store where a lot of riders meet.  That didn't yield any likely results, so I looked a bit further, hoping for a town called Donald, or something close to it. 

There is one in Georgia, but it is further than the mileage limit, and North Carolina doesn't have one.  South Carolina does have one, and I found that there is a building with a mural on it.  ...And it is the right mural, I believe.  Bingo!  Now, to get there and snap a picture with my bike in it, then post it on the forum before anyone else does. 

I prepared a Google Map, but since I like to do some light touring when I go anywhere, I wanted to find a few other points of interest.  I settled on an easy jaunt to Elberton Georgia, in an area known for its granite industry, and then over to Donalds to get the tag.

Here is the map of the route I took:

View Larger Map

Although it shows only about 178 miles, I got lost several times. More about that later.

On to the ride.

Because it is supposed to rain in the afternoon, I pack my rain suit and start out about 7:00 in the morning.  That way, I should be back before the rain starts.

Well, that isn't working out.  About a half hour after I leave home, it starts to rain.  Just enough to make me consider stopping and pulling on my rain gear.  I look for a place to do so, but by the time I find one, the rain has tapered off.  In a few more miles, it quits, but the sky remains overcast.  I continue on my way, going through Clemson, and down near Lake Hartwell, and the hydroelectric power dam there.  The roads are easy, in generally good condition, and I make good time.  I stop for a potty break at the boat launch south of Hartwell Dam. I stopped here the last time I came through almost a year ago, on my way to Lawrenceville Georgia for the Lee Parks Total Control Class. 

After my stop, I cruise through the countryside. some more, and spot this is along the road, at and Pushpin "B" on the map.

"King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  Jesus is Lord.  I AM the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh to the Father except by me.

That is an important thing to know.  It is found in three places in the Bible: 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, and Revelation 19:16.  It is a powerful statement of Jesus Christ's supreme authority over all other kings and lords of the earth.

I mount up again, and soon reach Elberton, at Pushpin "D," and find the Granite Museum.
Unfortunately, it is closed until 2:00 PM.  Rats.  I should have looked at their website more closely.  I don't want to hang around until two, since I want to avoid the afternoon rain that is coming.

There are some neat granite things to see even from the outside.  This is a solid granite spire, 51 feet tall.  It weighs 41,810 pounds.

Look at these granite books.  They almost look like real ones.  That's what I'd call heavy reading. 
Here is the railroad depot.  I had to stop there, you know. 

And a little history of Samuel Elbert, a Revolutionary War leader and governor of Georgia. 

Shortly out of town, it begins to rain again.  [What's new?]  And, again, it is just hard enough and long enough to make me look for a place to stop and dress for it.    And again, the rain stops about the time I find a spot.  It was supposed to rain this afternoon!  Right? 

[Oh well, be glad you are able to get out today, Bucky, despite the sputtering weather.] 

When I was riding back from Lawrenceville, GA on that cold, rainy night in October of 2009, I naturally had my rainsuit on. My ancient one-piece suit is not lined, and the rubbery waterproof coating inside makes it hard to get it on and off.  I stopped at an Interstate rest area to use the toilet, but could not get the rainsuit off over my shoulders. I had to wait until someone came along to ask them to help, then had to ask someone else to help put the suit back on. Imagine this picture: a stranger riding a motorcycle, dancing around at a nearly deserted rest stop in the middle of a cold, rainy night, fervently asking others to quickly help him undress, and then dress again. Well, it was either that or an uncomfortable alternative involving nasty bodily fluid. ...And I didn't want to ruin the leathers, you know.

I mentioned earlier that I got lost a few times during this trip.  Actually, I got lost a lot.  About five times.  Now you may recall that I am an engineer by training, so when I put together the Google Map, I make sure to mark it up with red pen so I don't miss any turns or route numbers.  I pinpoint each intersection with a red dot, and make the route numbers large so I can easily see them atop my tank bag. 

Despite this, I keep getting off the desired route today.  I am, of course, certain that it is not I who is missing the turns.  Rather, I am sure [tongue in cheek here] that the road signs are missing, so it can't be my fault.

Anyway, I thought I was smart in borrowing our son's GPS and having it help me along today -- a sort of a belt and suspenders concept: I can't go wrong, right?  Wrong.  The only thing it helped with was to get me pointed back to the right route when I got lost.

[Why didn't you use it to avoid getting lost, Bucky?]

I'm glad you asked.  It seems that I don't have a bracket to hold it at the correct angle on the handlebars of my bike, so I slip it into the map pocket on my tank bag.  Unfortunately, the glare off the top of the bag prevents me from seeing the display, and it doesn't have a way to connect an earpiece, so I can't hear it either. 

Thus, I am relegated to stopping, studying the thing, then going on a little further, and doing the same.  I eventually get where I want to go, but it certainly isn't very efficient. 

Back to the ride.

I meander through the Georgia, then South Carolina, countryside.  As soon as I cross the state line, the pavement becomes poorer.  Not terrible, but not nearly as smooth and well maintained. Our tax dollars are not working as hard in South Carolina, apparently.

I go though the town of Iva and see a building with a mural containing a train.  Naturally, I stop to take its portrait. 
The mural was painted in 1991 by Oscar Velasquez, and depicts Iva’s Atlantic Seaboard railroad station.  The mural is 60 feet by 20 feet and covers the entire side wall of Brown's Variety Store. The piece is based on an 1890 postcard of the town’s depot. Mr. Velasquez has painted several other outdoor murals, at least some of which depict railroad themes.
I wonder why a lot of these murals do not show the proper drawing perspective.  For example, the circular front of the locomotive is not properly oriented.   The engineer in me is offended by things like that. 

A little more history of Iva. 

I go a few blocks through town and spot a building with an awning sporting the word Reviva, on East Broad Street.  It is a small-town museum with a catchy name incorporating the town's moniker.  I can't pass that up either, so I dismount and go in, walking past a moped that looks a little like a miniature Honda Virago 250.  There is a guy inside -- the moped rider -- who greets me and asks what I am riding.  I tell him, and he begins to regale me with a rundown of his extensive motorcycle riding experience.  He seems to enjoy having someone listen to him speak about it, though I am a bit skeptical that his story is not embellished a bit.  A woman approaches and also greets me, with the invitation to look around.  The building is a former bank, and it contains many photos and artifacts of area events and places.  The moped rider continues his monolog for the entire time I am viewing the museum.  I have to say that I was polite to him, but a little distracted, so I failed to take any pictures inside. 

Oh well, maybe next time through. 

Next up is Abbeville, only because I missed a turn (again). It is a nice little town with an attractive square.  I wrote about it back in April of 2009.

I then manage to find my way to Due West, which is in the general direction of Donalds.  The town was named for an old trading post on the Cherokee Path, six miles west of the current town.  Due West is the home of Erskine College, the first four-year church-related college in South Carolina, founded by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1839.  

I motor onward and enter the metropolis of Donalds, at Pushpin "E" on the map. I soon spot the mural on my right at the intersection of SC-184 with US-178. I find a place across the street to park, in about the same place as the original tag photo.  I snap the shot, and start out toward home.
The mural is painted on the side of Little A's Variety Store.  This is the only link I could find describing the mural. The description from that website:
"This mural caught my eye. I like the way the smoke stack from the building was used [as the locomotive stack]! The Southern and the Piedmont and Northern both served Donalds, and both of the stations still exist. Also the short line (4 miles long), Due West Railroad connected to the Southern at Donalds. The mural is located on the side of a building where SC 184 leaves highway 178. This looks to be along the route that the Due West took from Donalds to Due West to take the students to Erskine College. The depot in Due West still stands today. The locomotive on the mural does not look like a Southern one, or one of the two that was used by the Due West Railroad. My research on the Due West locos shows that there were two of them, an 0-6-0 built by Glover, and an 0-4-4T, ex New York Elevated Railway, builder unknown. The P&N was an electric railway.
Tom Daspit, Morgan Hill, CA, Tom's Trains

I make note of the weather that is supposed to be closing in this afternoon.  In fact, it appears to be clearing up! 

So much for the weather guessers today. 

After Donalds, I go through Honea Path, and Belton.  Belton has a large water standpipe that has a crenellated top.  It is an interesting sight, visible from several miles around.  Completed in early 1909, it is 155 feet tall, and made of reinforced concrete.
Water flows through a ten-inch diameter pipe in the center of the bottom portion, and the water reservoir is within the upper section, above 100 feet from the ground. Therefore, the structure is actually a water tower rather than a standpipe.  The latter would be full of water throughout its entire height. 

There is an exterior ladder on the north side extending to the top.  There are no stairs or ladders inside. The Christmas star at the top had not been serviced in years because no one wanted to scale that exterior ladder.  A crane was available when they did a restoration study of the standpipe in 1987, so they fixed the star too. 

Interestingly, there is another Belton Standpipe.  It was built in 1914 and is in Belton Texas. It is a true standpipe, and is not as architecturally interesting as the one in South Carolina.

The trip home is uneventful, and I am now a bit too hot, since the clouds have left and the sun has come out in full force.

When I reach home, I run with my camera to the computer to post my tag.  My hands tremble as I reach the tag thread.  Has anyone beaten me? 


I succeed in posting my picture, and I am the winner, for now, until someone gets a new tag I post.  I search through my archive of trip photos and find a new tag that I think will be difficult for others to find.  It is at the end of a dead end road, where not too many riders go.  I post it and we'll see in a couple of weeks if I have stumped them. 

Today I rode 213 miles, stumbling my way around western South Carolina and eastern Georgia.

If you go:

There are other points of interest nearby.  

  • South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in the Belton train depot, 50 North Main Street.
  • Ruth Drake Museum of agricultural, railroad, industrial, and cultural history, also located in the depot.  Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 4 PM.  Free.  


Anonymous said...

I love this blog. I live in Iva,S.C.
Abbeville, S.C. is also the Last Meeting of the Confederate States Cabinet. The CSA government was officially disbanded in Abbeville.

jenno said...


I'm writing an article about public art in Upstate South Carolina for a nonprofit newsletter that encourages people to explore our area. I found your photo of the train mural in Iva, and would very much appreciate your permission to use it.

Thank you! jenoladipo at gmail dot com

Bucky said...

You may use the photograph with attribution to Bucky's Ride Blog
If you can also include the general link, that would be good: http://buckysride.blogspot.com/

Please let me know when your article is published so I can view it.