Highway 301

Yesterday afternoon I decided to hop on the bike and ride North up U.S. 301. On my drive to and from Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship game in January, I took US 301 to US 321 before hitting I-77. What I noticed about these roads was that they were both pretty empty as far as traffic goes, and, especially in the case of 301, it was clear they were once major through roads.

Before I-95 became operational in the area sometime in the 60s or 70s, US 301 was one of the major, if not the most important, North-South routes from Florida all the way up to north of D.C. In Georgia and South Carolina, this is clearly seen in the sheer number of motels that line the road. Most of these buildings are shut down, and those that are open mostly seem to cater to more permanent residents these days. There are also a large number of closed up rest stops, service stations, and other business around the route. For the most part the road is in very good repair, and the traffic is very light, which makes it an ideal route for a ride.

I decided to grab my camera, hop on the bike, and ride a little bit over the border into South Carolina. The farthest north I reached was Allendale. From that point, I turned around and stopped along the way back to capture some of the sights of the decay I saw.

If I had been smarter, I would have pinned the locations on Google Maps with my iphone. I did not, however, so you get no precise coordinates for these sights. Let’s begin:

The first photo is taken from right in front of the first location of which I took pictures. We’re a few miles south of Allendale, SC, and this is a view of the road north. In Allendale there is an elementary school, which still appears to be in use, but it is surrounded by a locked fence with barbed wire on top of it. This demanded a picture, however, I was in an area where there actually were lots of people, and I didn’t want to be the creepy guy taking pictures of an apparently active elementary school. As you can see 301 is, at this point, a divided 4 lane highway. It alternates between this mode, an undivided 4 lane highway, and simply a two lane highway throughout it’s span.

This is the first location I photographed. I have no idea what the purpose of this building once was, however, it has been almost completely swallowed by the forest which is creeping back towards the road. I would have taken pictures inside, however I was dissuaded by the very powerful smell of rotting or sewage, as well as a extremely large vulture flying out of the top of the building as I approached. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to capture Mr. Vulture.

What ever this place was, it needed outside exiting toilets, apparently. This makes me lean towards thinking it was probably a gas or service station, however there was no place where I could see the remains of a pump, nor any attached garage that still stood. I think I can hold it for now.

It was apparently also extremely well lit (or not). This tin-can light seems to be the only thing that would have provided light in the front, with the exception of any fixtures that may have fallen off of the front of this very low building.

This was apparently once some sort of South Carolina Welcome Center (here). It’s shut down now, with orange barrels blocking the entrances… not a problem for the motorcycle. The sign in front now reads “Lower Savannah River Alliance”, and sure enough, according to a Web search, this is now their headquarters. As you will note, on that site the picture of the building has fake animated flags added. That’s probably necessary as there aren’t any ropes or pulleys still attached to those flag poles. The place really doesn’t seem to be in use at all, currently, though, and the site I linked too claims it was last updated in 2005. It also links to, on it’s front page, a flier for a October 2005 meeting.

Leaning against a fence behind the building is the old “South Carolina Welcomes You” sign. As it turns out, South Carolina no longer welcomes you.

Speaking of this fence, here’s the remainder of a sign posted on the fence. Something about sewage and a pond. A warning to keep out. Keep this in mind for later.

About 5 miles South (actually, mostly West), and on the opposite side of the road, is the Georgia Welcome Center (still operational, thank you very much).

According to that plaque on the front of the building, this ultra-modern looking travel stop was built in 1960. While I’ve tried to pin down a date on the Internet as far as when I-95 opened through Georgia, I can’t find anything definite. The more I look, the more likely it seems to be sometime in the 70s. At any rate, look at this flashy new rest stop.

While the old SC rest stop had some picnic tables in the wooded area, the Georgia stop really pulls out all of the stops. It has dog walking trails as well as nifty swings and picnic tables as seen here. You can also see the metal charcoal grills provided for all of those people who travel with… charcoal… and raw meat… Seriously, has anyone ever seen one of these rest stop grills in use anywhere?

But now check this out… Right behind the picnic area… what’s this? A barbed wire-topped fence and another keep out sign. That’s right, it’s another Water Treatment station. What is it with these Southerners, rest stops, and sewage? Also, what a department… the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, & Tourism… that’s quite the wide net.

We’re going to head North back into South Carolina for a little bit here. I wanted to put the two rest stops together in this story, and to combine my two adventures “off road”. I actually visited the Georgia side of this stuff first, but that’s not important.

Here we are right here. Currently the 4 lane divided 301 merges back into a 2 lane highway. This may not have always been the case. We’re about to take a trip down an abandoned parallel stretch of road. According to the director of my department, this section has been closed off at least as long as she’s been in Statesboro, which is 30 years. She uses the 301 route to visit her family in North Carolina. She tells me this has been closed down at least as long as she has been making the trip.

This picture is a view to the north from the start of the abandoned spur.

Here you can see the view South, with my bike in front of the barrier. To the left of the barrier were four-wheeler tracks, and I probably could have tried to get my bike around, but it certainly wasn’t level. My bike is also heavy. The way around was also dirt. I’d try it on a dirt bike, but certainly not on the Shadow. Let’s walk.

In the first photo you could see that the asphalt was somewhat intact for some stretches of this old road. As you can see here, there are some points where the dirt and plant life have reclaimed the surface.

Here’s a shot of the active 301 from the abandoned part. This was taken from a span that bridges over swamp land. Note the solid concrete construction of the “modern” 301.

Abandoned bridge shot.

As you can see here, the trees are literally swallowing this old span. This is a common sight all along the old bridge.

This picture is from a little bit further South/West. I’ve hopped back on the bike and had ridden almost to the state line. I’m right about here. On the map, you can see the driveway leading off of 301, it turns into a dirt road and then just a grass road that goes underneath the modern 301 span. Anyway, this picture shows the very solid concrete construction of the “modern” 301 span.

A shot to show scale. Also a shot to show you how nice it might actually be to hang out under a secondary highway. The water to the left is, of course, the Savannah River.

Here’s a shot from underneath the abandoned 301 span. Notice anything? Yep. The damned thing is held up by wood. Wood! Maybe I shouldn’t knock it, though. It’s still standing after over 30 years of disuse, and probably no maintenance.

In this shot looking West, you can see across to the boat ramp (that we’re about to visit) in Georgia. You can also see a pontoon boat moored in the middle of the river to the disused swing bridge over which the abandoned 301 stretch used to cross. The sign on that pontoon boat reads: “No Trespassing United States Department of Energy”. What the hell does the DoE have to do with an abandoned swing bridge?

Here’s a picture of the center portion of the swing bridge, swung open of course, from the South Carolina side. Also, Swing Hut! What a neat little control room. I wonder if they could power that thing up and swing it closed. Probably not, but the idea of old technology being powered up after decades and doing what it is supposed to do really excites me. Is this a problem?

This landmark sign (located approximately here) is dated 1953. 301 has a number of them, and they’re all in places that are really inconvenient if you want to read them. I passed one place where there were 3, right in a row, spaced about 4 feet apart from each other, in the middle of a divided section of the road, with no shoulder to pull over onto if you did want to read them. Anyway, we’re now on the Georgia side of the border, looking North (er East). The road in the background goes to the boat ramp.

A helpful stop sign reminds you not to drive into the river.

Apparently we’re at the Burton’s Ferry Public Boat Ramp.

Apparently this boating dude (you can’t see the trailer attached to his truck) has decided that not only is this a great place to launch his boat, but he’s also parked his truck under the abandoned span and set up camp for an extended stay. That’s a lantern on a pole next to his truck. Along with a small grill, a cooler, and a campfire setup. Free camping?

Anyway, it was time to hit the road again. I headed South and stopped at this site, somewhere in Screven County, GA. We’re apparently at the defunct Roberson’s service station. As you can see in the upper left hand corner, there’s a Mechanic on Duty just in case I’m having bike problems!

Here’s the front room of the station. It has seen better days.

Let’s take a look into the garage from the outside. Apparently this is where the K-9 Posse keeps it’s supply of 80s women’s casual shirts. Good to know. Also, as you can tell, Roberson’s was very solidly constructed. It’s not like that’s the cinder block wall separating in the back or anything.

Well, as it turns out, there’s not much going on at Roberson’s. Luckily, I still had plenty of fuel in the tank.

A bit further south in Screven County is our last stop for the day. Welcome to the Pineview Motel. I think it’s called Pineview because it’s Pine trees that block your view of the sign.

The sign was pretty blocked in the first shot. Here’s it from the Southern exposure. Lets see, why did the Pineview fail? Maybe it’s LOW “COMRCIL” RATES were not low enough? FREE CABLE HBO ESPN TBS seems like a good idea. Maybe it was the LONG TERM RATS? I’m going with the rats.

As you can see the Pineview Motel has been closed for quite some time.

I’m not sure those dishes are likely to still get my HBO ESPN TBS. What do the rats say?

It’s a broken neon sign. It once said Office. What do you want from me?

Yep, it’s the old office. The windows are broken out. Shocker. Maybe I can find someone to get me a room here.

Here’s one of the rooms in the Pineview Motel. Small room, but what a pretty painting of a ship!

Anyway, that’s all there is for today, folks. After the Pineview, I hopped back onto the Shadow and rode back into The ‘Boro. There are literally dozens of sites just along the short stretch of 301 I took that are in various states of decay. Maybe I’ll visit some more soon, or maybe I’ll head out of Statesboro in other directions to find neat stuff.

I hope you enjoyed them.

26 Responses to “Highway 301”

  1. Nick Says:

    looks like a cool excursion, old-school style. its always good times creeping amongst the ruins, trying to discern the secrets of random long-abandoned places.

  2. The AntiDJ Says:

    Yeah, shades of the old Depot Campus, huh? There’s lots of stuff like that around here. Apparently lots of old abandoned plantation houses, even along 301 according to my boss. I need to check those out soon.

  3. Derek C. F. Pegritz Says:

    Dude…I need to write a story based on those pics. Something will will culminate in a horrible, disgusting scene of depravity in that abandoned motel.

    I think I will call it “Hell at the No-Tell Mo-Tel.”

  4. Nicki Says:

    I absolutely loved reading this. I was on my lunch here in the corporate hell hole that Hartford is and got to wisk myself away to a cool down south vibe with a super amount of greenery & some small feeling that as soon as i saw the final destination a crazy ax wielding dude was gonna chop me up. That hotel is slightly perfect for a slasher flick 🙂

    I vote you do this more often for no other reason then I need to be entertained.

    Nick – if you’re doing this locally, I wanna know 🙂 I’d be down to be the photographer 🙂

  5. The AntiDJ Says:

    Actually, Pegritz, if you want to do anything like that ‘for reals’, I can send you all 110 or so of the pictures I took that day in their original, unscaled format for you to do with as you please. Your editorial eye might be different than mine. Let me know if you are interested in that.

  6. The AntiDJ Says:

    Glad I could break up your boring corporate day, Nicki! I may try to do more such posts, if I get my lazy ass around to it.

  7. rmitz Says:

    Cool stuff! Looking forward to the next one. Makes me want to drive 301.

  8. BrainMc Says:

    It is definitely riding season. Maybe you can head down to okefenokee swamp or any of the other 7 natural wonders of Ga. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Seven_Natural_Wonders_of_Georgia_(U.S._state)
    It was good to see a post from you. I hope all is well down there.

  9. BrainMc Says:

    Here is the correct link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_natural_wonders_of_georgia

  10. Jerry Levy Says:

    US 301 was a very popular route from the Northeast to Florida from the 1940s until the late 1970s. We took this route when I was a kid in 1972 and the traffic was very heavy, billboards everywhere, and a motel just about every mile. It was quite an adventure. The final segment of I-95 was finished in 1982 and it took most of the traffic off US 301 killing most of the businesses along the route. There are some really good restaurants still operating and few of the historical motels have survived. It is a great drive if you are headed between FL and the Northeast and much more interesting than I-95. That GA welcome center was the first one built in the state.

    If you want to know more, click here:

  11. Jerry Levy Says:

    Sorry I forgot to put in the link. As you are coming down I-95 in South Carolina, take the Orangeburg Exit (97) to follow 301 to Florida.

    Click here for information: http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/interstate_highway_system

  12. Brooke Morton Says:

    As a Native Screven County Resident it really upsets me to see the further demise of hwy 301 even as a kid living there in the 1990s (which the Pineview motel was still operational then) just makes me so sad :(. Also my great grandfather used to work at the Georgia Welcome Center (first in GA) from the time it opened and my parents and I keep talking about how glad we are to see it still open and keeping history still alive! I still visit Screven often and go down highway 301 to visit Harmony Methodist Church where almost all my family is buried and I really do enjoy the nostalgia I feel everytime I go down the road. I am actually writing a paper on the negative effects that are continually happening on this road due to the construction of interstate 75. Thanks for the pictures (which are great) and the blog!

  13. Rob White Says:

    Love the photos and posts. I’ve been traveling US301 between Sylvania and Eastern NC since I was born, in 1958 I probably partly learned to read from the signs along 301. I still make the trip from Waynesboro to Kinston NC, and it is so much quicker to use Interstate 20 and Interstate 95, but I still drive down to Sylvania and follow 301 to Lake Marion. I love that road and would love to do a photo-journal of it like you’ve done.

    Thanks for the memories

  14. James Says:

    I have traveled US 301 all my life from Charlotte NC into South Georgia. I remember all the places you photographed, and I remember when most were still open. I travelled across the old (now abandoned) sections of 301 at the Savannah river crossing before the new side was built, and I remember crossing the Swinging Bridge that is now abandoned. 301 was lined with gift shops, gas stations, motels, and other tourist traps until I-95 opened in the late ’60s or early ’70s. The first picture you took of the building with your bike in front was a souvenir shop and fireworks store. reworks were sold in SC but not in GA so folks went across the river from Georgia to buy. The Georgia welcome center on 301 is the oldest continuously operating welcome center in the United States.

  15. bob Says:

    Great piece! I actually found it by accident, one day after my own US-301 adventure. 301 is one of my favorite lost highways, having first traveled it in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. I have a strange fascination with abandonment… I’ll be that wierd guy you see taking photos of shuttered motels! I covered the route from Manning SC to the Savannah River crossing. The abandoned highway sections south of Allendale have recently been designated a hiking/biking greenway, complete with parking areas and info boards! So it’s now possible to make your way (non-motorized) all the way to the bridge; the swing span dates to 1938, not sure when the new bridge opened. For old motel buffs, Allendale has an original one-story brick Holiday Inn which is still open (dba as Executive Inn). Just south across the road, the old HoJo’s restaurant is now the bookstore for the college campus there. Best regards!

  16. Roger Says:

    Nice pics…..

    I visited the old 301 bridge 2 days ago on a road trip. The first time I had been there in about a year. To my surprise, South Carolina has developed their side into a hiking trail all along the old 301 road bed and across the 4 abandoned bridges. It is almost 3 miles in length. It is a must visit for all history buffs. Very interesting.

  17. BUTCHIE Says:

    THIS WAS SO COOL TO SEE. I ACTUALLY TRAVELED 301 WAS I WAS A KID IN THE LATE 50’S AND 60’S.
    THIS WAS THE MAIN ROUTE TO GET TO FLORIDA. THIS WAS GREAT—-THANKS

  18. duncan Says:

    My grandfather ran a gas station about the location of your first pictures. It was known as “Buck’s Place”. The curve even looks familiar from when I was a kid in the sixties. The gas station was opened in the 1920s and I still have pictures from that era. He died in 1945 and his son took it over until his death in 1961, when my aunt began to run it. It stayed open until the early 1970s when she finally closed it. My grandfather was born in Swainsboro in 1895 and moved his family to a home near the store along the Savannah River where my father grew up.

  19. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins Says:

    Wow, thanks for researching this abandoned spur and publishing the info and photos. We drove by it today totally by accident, on our way from Florida back to Ontario, on an impromptu detour around a couple of accidents on I-95 north. We certainly saw lots of things we weren’t expecting, and this abandoned road on wooden supports was one of them, I started watching it right after we saw that amazing abandoned swing bridge.
    I wish we’d had time to explore, but I’m glad you did for us. We were also stunned by the sheer number of abandoned gas stations and motels along 301 that are literally being swallowed up by the forest like some kind of forgotten Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. We went past at least half a dozen former gas bars in a row over a period of more than an hour and were glad we’d gassed up just as we left 95. I was frankly amazed that so many abandoned buildings had not succumbed to arson, but I guess a lot of them are cinder block construction that wouldn’t easily burn.

  20. Robb Says:

    Enjoyed browsing your pictures on old Route 301. Our family used that route from Maryland to Florida many times over the years and often times during my trips I’ll pick a state and travel old 301 for old time sake. Pretty incredible to see many scenes like what you’ve portrayed above up in NC as well. If any of you get a chance get off 95 and check out old 301 through the town of Weldon NC some interesting scenes there. Thanks for your hard work in putting this display together it brought back some memories!

  21. The AntiDJ Says:

    Thank you so much to those of you who have posted on here about your memories over the last 3 years. I’ve sort of neglected the blog, but I hope to start writing again and doing some more posts like this. Your comments have always brightened my day!

  22. Duncan Says:

    I attended the funeral today of my aunt that ran the store pictured in the first four photos. She was 92. I rode by there today and yes the old store is still there, as in the photos, but barely visible for the weeds and vines. I had thought when I first saw your photos that it was indeed the store, as mentioned in my earlier post and I confirmed it today. Read my earlier post for a little history of the store. As I stated, it was first opened by my grandfather, Armond Conway(Buck) Lewis, then his son Elmo Lewis after his death and then my aunt Geraldine Lewis after the death of her husband Elmo. At the funeral today, my cousins had a scrapbook with many photos of the store in its heyday.

  23. bell Says:

    I remember traveling the 301 corridor going to Florida around 1950. A reminder of that era still exists in the form of a long ago abandoned combination gas station, restaurant, and gift shop that still displays the large “INTERSTATE” sign from the pre-Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 days. As a kid, I found the rotating bridge over the river at the South Carolina and Georgia state line absolutely fascinating.

    Over the past several years, I have traveled along 321/301 corridor several times. As a grumpy old man I find route to be both scenic and relaxing when compared the the mindless congestion of the interstate highways. My most recent trip was Easter 2013. At the time, several dilapidated motels on the South Carolina side of 301 were being razed. Meanwhile, perhaps having been converted to apartments, several motel buildings on the Georgia side seemed to be well-kept. As always, the rest area on the Georgia side of the state line was clean, well-kept, and expertly staffed.

    Parenthetically speaking of razed buildings, the old Bowling Green Spinning complex on 321 (nearer South Carolina and North Carolina line) has been converted to recyclables and rubble. Given the above, one can only wonder what fate awaits the old mill and factory in Clover, South
    Carolina.

    On the north side of the 321/301 connection at Ulmer, there are – perhaps I should say were – two curiosities.

    One is the police station in Olar. Although the building is little more than a concrete block phone booth beside the railroad tracks at the intersection of US 321 and SC 64, only a few years ago it housed a faceless manikin in full uniform seated behind a desk. However, in April of 2005, it all seemed a little too contrived to this former cop. That’s when I decided to investigate and, subsequently, photograph the all-too-diligent officer for posterity.

    During a conversation with the then-mayor of Denmark, I found out that the prominent multistory building on the west side of 321 was, as suspected, once a bank. Moreover, the now-boarded-up top floor was an apartment offering a magnificent view of the surrounding country side. Not so many years ago, the town offered that apartment as a freebie honeymoon suite for the town’s newly marrieds.

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