Welcome to Georgetown SC, a community of about 10,000 folks. Driving about 60 miles north of Charleston on US 17 leads through the Francis Marion National Forest before you abruptly arrive at the edge of town.
This edge of town is defined by the Sampit River, one of four rivers that flows through Georgetown.
If this entryway into town is any indicator, Georgetown is a place of many personalities. On your left as you enter is a large paper mill and a factory that makes cardboard boxes.
To the right several more factories and small dry-dock.
Just before the bridge on the right is a gated community called Craven's Grant.
The sign advertising the communities "Charleston Style Homes" lies on the ground, and grass grows through cracks in the blacktop and concrete.
A clubhouse complete with large swimming pool is built, but the 100 or so home-sites sit vacant. The story is that a crooked developer got this site and two others going in NC and bilked millions from investors in the process. The guy behind it and a few others were sentenced to prison last year, but eight years after this was built it still sits vacant.
The views over the bay are great. Perhaps someday someone will enjoy them.
The other side of the bridge on the right side lies a tugboat and small cargo service. Nathan Alexander has worked here for three years. They focus on helping the Department of Natural Resources build artificial reefs.
The red boat is getting all of the engines and anything else that is environmentally sensitive stripped out in preparation to be taken out to sea and sunk.
The boat Nathan operates, the white one, was built in 1908 and was originally a steam powered tug boat, since converted to diesel. It is one of only a handful of the old steam-operated boats still in service in the USA.
Numerous cats, none with names, roam the property in search of a rodent or a handout.
These concrete pipes are waiting to be loaded on a barge and taken out to sea to join the old tugboat in creating an underwater habitat for marine life.
From about every angle, the paper mill dominates the landscape. One concession the paper mill made to the people of the area was to install a free car wash. Here old gas pumps sit in a field.
Just beyond the bridge lies a large steel mill. I was told the owner of the mill owns several more in the US and Europe but only operates this one a few weeks per year. Several offers from the community to buy the land the and the mill to develop for the town have been rejected.
It appears the primary product of the mill is these large steel wire coils.
A solitary Volkswagen van with a surfboard was the only car in the parking lot. It certainly doesn't look like the right setting for this vehicle.
Over the bridge, past the factory and turn right and you are immediately in downtown Georgetown.
Although many of the shops look like they are thriving, many businesses sit vacant.
In the middle of the town a large plot sits completely empty. It looks like some charring on the adjacent buildings, so it may well have been a fire that took it out. From the looks of the ground it has been at least a couple of years since anything has stood here. The water as it goes by in this small river is a sickly copper color. The river goes by the plants and the mills, but perhaps there is a cypress swamp further upstream that is causing the coloration. There are a lot of bait fish visible, so it may not be industrial pollution. A day or two will tell the tale.
And just as quickly as you arrive in town, you are through it and out on the point of the peninsula it sits on. A large recreation park with ball fields and playgrounds, a large boat landing and an area with a pavilion that overlooks the bay span the entire end of the peninsula.
The views out over the bay are great - and being two large rivers meet here, they go in almost every direction.
Looking back over your shoulder you can see the opening of the river that runs by the downtown area.
And then, straight across the river, there it is again - the local landmark paper-mill. Gorgeous or hideous? Booming or busting? We have a lot of mixed signals about Georgetown so far - it will be fun to find out over the next few days.
And today's parting shot exemplifies resilience. That lot in the middle of town where it appears a large section burned? A solitary sunflower has asserted itself, radiating life in the midst of a pile of rubble. Was it a passerby spitting seeds? Was there a hardware store here? Whatever it is, this feisty little plant has my respect.
Have an awesome Monday !!
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