Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: South Carolina Country Roads


Venture off the beaten path to forgotten roads, where a hidden South Carolina exists. Time-travel and dead-end at a ferry that leads to wild islands. Cross a rusting steel truss bridge into a scene from the 1930s. Behold an old gristmill and imagine its creaking, clashing gears grinding corn. See an old gas pump wreathed in honeysuckle. Drive through a ghost town and wonder why it died. When's the last time you saw a country store's cured hams hanging from wires? How about a vintage Bull Durham tobacco ad on old brick? Tom Poland explores scenic back roads that lead to heirloom tomatoes, poke salad, restaurants once gas stations, overgrown ruins and other soulful relics.

My own experience with South Carolina is pretty limited, I must admit, having only driven through most of the state to reach Hilton Head or crossed the northern border just far enough to visit friends in Irmo. But coincidentally, South Carolina County Roads arrived in my mailbox just as my husband and I started to make plans to visit Charleston for a long weekend.

Cooper's County Store

The latest series from The History Press takes a look at those lost gems, those long-forgotten remnants from a past era that few see anymore. As people speed to their next destination via interstate, thousands of miles of country roads retain stories from communities that no longer exist. Author Tom Poland ventures onto the path less travelled to discover overgrown roads, rusting gas pumps, and other Americana. 

Poland says that he finds driving these country roads "calming, like therapy." During the two years he researched the book, he estimates that he drove some 12,000 miles around South Carolina, never once touching an interstate. He says, "Modern life is a mad dash that drives you insane. A leisurely drive down a country road restores your sanity and makes you a better person." 

I don't know if it will make me a better person, but I definitely plan to take a few detours on our way to Charleston, aided by South Carolina Country Roads. I also plan to make more effort to get out and about on our Kentucky backroads. 

South Carolina Country Roads by Tom Poland is due for release on April 16, 2018. 

McCormick County, SC

And as an extra plug for The History Press and me, feel free to check out my own books with the same publisher: Lexington (Then and Now), Wicked Lexington, Kentucky, and A Culinary History of Kentucky

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