You want to see South Carolina? You need to go beyond Charleston and the other beach side communities.
South Carolina feels deserted. I get that college wasn’t in session at USC. But Columbia and the rest of the inland state felt like people weren’t around. I eschewed I-26 and I-95 to Hilton Head, opting instead for US Routes and local roads. First stop Allendale which was featured in Paul Theroux’s Deep South.
From here it was two Forest Gump stops and a church ruins site. The film Forest Gump was filmed primarily in South Carolina. Greenbow, Alabama? That’s actually Varnville, South Carolina – although being completely honest and I don’t mean this as a dig there’s no way anyone, even Tom Hanks, would be able to tell Varnville was Greenbow – the film crew did some serious dressing up to give Varnville a little more small town “pop” than what it actually has. Having driven few of these small towns by now, there’s a few others that better check the small town box than Varnville.
Twenty minutes down the road is McPhersonville Church. Even if you didn’t know this was the church where Forest Gump sang gospel with the Black choir hoping for shrimp, you’d still think this is a picturesque setting and that some film must have been shot here at some point. A small white church surrounding by trees? It’s perfect.
Another fifteen minutes down the road is another church – no white chapel just a series of brick columns. It’s the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. It feels a bit eerie pulling into the parking lot across the street but I met another traveler walking their dog here and that put everything at ease. Another interesting site.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ supposedly has the best whole hog barbeque in Charleston. Rodney’s parents introduced him to barbecue cooking when he was 11. The parent’s place still operates in Hemingway, South Carolina. You know me…I got to go with the original…so I drove to Hemingway…had a great barbecue dish with its own spices…before leaving South Carolina.
I’ve passed South of the Border numerous times. Waaaay to many times to not stop. Is it kitschy? Of course. Is it worth a ten minute stop to survey the area and take a few photos? Double of course. If not for the pouring rain (and the fact I still had work to do that afternoon) I would have grabbed a meal, perused the gift shops…which I think means I need to stop here again the next time I drive I cross the NC/SC border on I-95.