Ruin and Recreation

Sorry, The Shamrock Hotel is booked. But there are other great places to stay and things to do and see in Blackville.

Drive due south 83 miles (about two hours) and you’ll find the sleepy town of Blackville. Here you’ll find Ray Miller’s Bread-Basket with his famous homemade bread and the Healing Springs, a long-time destination for people seeking natural remedies. Here too you’ll find ruins of the Shamrock Hotel and Barnwell State Park.

A Mennonite family operates Miller’s Bread-Basket on Main Street. Ray Miller owns Miller’s Bread-Basket, a quaint charming place. Just look for the fellow who resembles Ernest Hemingway. They say the meatloaf is out of this world. You’ll relish the wonderful greens and fried chicken. Take your sweet tooth with you. Lil Stoltzfus, the Pie Lady, makes German chocolate pies, Dutch shoofly pies, pecan pies, chocolate fudge pies, apple pies and others. Try the cinnamon raisin bread. Consider the entrees here Pennsylvania Dutch with a southern touch.

Just down the street stand the ruins of the old Shamrock. For years Miller has advocated restoring Blackville’s 100-year-old Shamrock Hotel, once a whistle-stop on the old Hamburg-Charleston railroad. In its glory days the Shamrock was a hub of activity where people played poker and pool.

It’s haunting and beautiful. In its heyday green tiles spelled “The Shamrock” in the lobby’s white ceramic tiles near the entrance. The old hotel has long since crumbled into ruin, a reminder of days when people rode trains, not cars.

Close by is Blackville’s Healing Springs, known as God’s Acre Healing Springs. Lute Boylston deeded the springs to God in 1944. The deed states that the owner of the land surrounding the springs is “God Almighty.” (He’s always been the owner.) A sign at the springs states, “According to tradition the Indians reverenced the water for its healing properties as a gift from the Great Spirit. They led the British wounded to their secret waters during the American Revolution and the wounded were healed. This historical property has been deeded to God for public use. Please revere God by keeping it clean.”

Gallons gush forth every minute. Take some jugs with you. Back a ways I knew a woman who would regularly make a 120-mile roundtrip to the springs. Laden with many plastic milk jugs she came home with the therapeutic spring water and swore by it.

Continue your day at Barnwell State Park. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, this park has a reputation as a great place to fish. Feel like staying overnight? Arrange a stay at one of the park’s cabins.

Blackville may be a sleepy town but you won’t go hungry and you will find plenty to do. Check out this town in the South Carolina Heritage Corridor. And if some stubborn ailment plagues you, well you just may find a cure at the end of your 83-mile drive south.

If You Go …

• Miller’s Bread-Basket,

No Credit Cards Accepted

483 Main Street

Blackville, S.C. 29817

803-284-3117

 • Healing Springs,

Free

Springs Court

Blackville S.C. 29817

• Barnwell State Park,

Free

223 State Park Road

Blackville, S.C. 29817

803-284-2212

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at www.tompoland.net. Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]