Interesting diversions

The towns and cities that lie along US 301 each have a distinctive flavor all their own. The information below is presented in tabular format (easy to print and reference!) and is organized starting from Santee, SC and ending at Callahan, Florida. At Callahan, you may rejoin the interstate system by turning east onto A1A and proceeding ten miles to I-95. Or, you may turn west and follow US 301 on to Tampa, Florida if you are so inclined.

Note: Businesses and other commercial entities are listed for reference; no endorsement is intended or implied.

Santee, SC

  • Start your tour of the old highway by pausing in Elloree, SC, five miles west of Santee on old SC 6. You will find a small village with a restored downtown area chock full of antiques and collectibles stores. The Elloree Heritage Museum portrays rural South Carolina life at the time the village was founded. The “World’s Largest Tea Pot” and museum is located behind the pharmacy in downtown Elloree.
  • The true gem of the Santee area, of course, is Lake Marion, a man made lake that was one of the largest such undertakings ever. Before 1940, the Santee River quietly meandered through the large swampy area north of town. With the building of the
    Santee Cooper Dam
    , the swampy area was flooded to create the lake. Because the project was on a short timetable the swamp was not cleared of the large expanses of cypress trees; thus, the lake bottom contains thousands of old trees that provide a haven for fish. For this reason the lake has become a fisherman’s paradise. At Santee State Park, boat tours (seasonal) take visitors deep into the swamp and out into the lake, allowing a first hand glimpse at the wildlife and fowl in the area.
  • As you meander down 301 headed towards Orangeburg, note that the highway is marked as “Five Chop Road”. How did it get that name? The earliest trails that later evolved into the highways of today were marked with whatever was available. In pioneer times, roads through the woods and unsettled areas would sometimes be marked by chopping large notches into the trunks of trees along the route. Thus the “Five Chop Road” was a byway in which one would find their way by watching for tree trunks marked with five large chopped notches.

Orangeburg, SC

  • The Arthur Rose Museum on the campus of 150 year old Claflin University maintains a diverse collections of works of alumni, faculty, staff and students. Periodically, displays featuring regional, national and international artists are also showcased.
  • Roses, roses, and more roses! Some 4,000 plants representing at least 75 labeled varieties of roses are always on display at Edisto Gardens in Orangeburg. The 150 acre park also features a 2,600 foot boardwalk that takes the visitor into a Tupelo/Cypress wetland that lies between the Display Rose Garden and the North fork of the Edisto river.
  • A few miles south of Orangeburg, keep an eye out for the old Coffee Pot diner, with its trademark roof sign. This ancient roadside institution served up countless cups of coffee starting in 1950. Although it is no longer open for business, the current owner has renovated it because of popular interest and it presents a great photo op. More info here

Bamberg, SC

  • Approaching Bamberg from the north, US 301 crosses the Edisto River. Immediately past the highway bridge on the right is Bobcat Landing, a small state owned park Although there are no facilities other than a boat ramp and parking, it is a fine spot for a highway picnic in the shade of large trees on the banks of the longest free flowing black water river in North America.
  • The Hooten-Black house (circa 1880) anchors Bamberg National Register
    Historic District
    , which lists 75 properties in downtown Bamberg. Guides and Maps for the walking tour are available.
  • Seven miles west of Bamberg on US 78 in the town of Denmark is the Caroline Collection, a three story building that houses one of the largest privately owned antiques and collectibles stores in the Southeast.

Allendale, SC

  • The Salkehatchie Arts Center in Allendale is one block from the University of South Carolina’s Salkehatchie campus in downtown Allendale. This establishment offers for sale a variety of native crafts hand made by the artisans and craftsmen of the Low Country area.
  • The Topper Site, one of North America’s most exciting archeological finds, is located along the Savannah River south of Allendale. It is thought that artifacts discovered here prove that man inhabited the area during the Ice Age, much earlier than science had previously thought. The excavation site (off of US 301 2.7 miles north of the SC/GA border on SC 3-102) is opened to the public once each year for a five week period. However, many of the artifacts are on permanent display at the
    University of South Carolina’s Allendale campus.
  • At the point where US 301 intersects SC 3-102 as it approaches the Georgia border can be seen the roadbed (on the left) leading up to the old swing drawbridge over the Savannah River. This closed off section of the old highway has been converted by the state of South Carolina into a nice pedestrian walkway, nicely shaded by the trees that have overtaken the bypassed highway and elevated bridge. The
    2.7 mile pathway allows one to walk right out onto the old bridge and look down into the Savannah River. More info can be found at the Lower Savannah River Alliance (LSRA) website.

Sylvania, GA

  • As you cross the Savannah River and enter Georgia, take a few minutes to stop at the oldest state welcome center in the United States. This old 1962 relic perfectly encapsulates the space age oriented architecture that was so prevalent in the late 50s and early 60s. You will find free refreshments, lots of tourist maps and brochures, and a down home friendly greeting from the staff!
  • Just down the road can be found the Wade Pecan plantation . This is one of the largest working pecan growing operations in the South. There is a factory boutique selling pecan related items. Watch for Oglethorpe Road on the right.
  • A pivotal Georgia Revolutionary War battle was fought near this area. A few miles past the Welcome Center is the intersection of 301 and Pine Grove Inn Road; turn left and drive approximately nine miles to the site of the Battle of Brier Creek, which secured the state of Georgia as an English colony for the remainder of the War for Independence. The exact number of patriots killed in the battle is unknown, but up to 200 are thought to have drowned in the nearby swamps while trying to retreat.
  • Continuing on 301, at the intersection with GA 24, watch for the sign on the right for the Dell Goodall House, which is maintained by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The house itself is down a dirt road a few hundred yards off of the highway. It is the lone survivor of the doomed town of Jacksonborough, a community that legend says was killed by the curse of an itinerant preacher. Guided tours, conducted by volunteers from the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, are offered on the first Saturday of every month April through October, free (donations accepted).
  • Of interest to old highway buffs, this stretch of two lane follows the old Dixie Highway , a historic network of roads that formed the second trans country route (the Lincoln Highway was the first) in the United States. This highway was created to provide a route for travelers from the Chicago and Detroit areas to sunny Florida in the early 1920s.
  • In the city of Sylvania is located a small, Mayberry like downtown area; in the center of the city park sits two historic Napolean cannons. Directly across from the park is the “Soda Shoppe”, a store which once contained the soda fountain popular with youth in the 50s. The townspeople banded together and restored the shoppe, which today acts as the town museum and also sells local crafts as well as cookbooks and other items of local interest.
  • Also located in the downtown area are the “Cotton Patch” and Sylvania Antiques collectibles stores.
  • Two blocks off of the downtown area is Kinchley Place, a charming bed and breakfast located in a late 1800′s historic home.
  • During the American War between the States, General Sherman’s well known March to the Sea took place in 1864. Sherman divided his troops into two separate lines, and the right wing crossed present day US 301 at Cooperville. A monument marks the site which is at the Ga 17 intersection at the south end of Screven County.

Statesboro, GA

  • Statesboro is a college town and is home to Georgia Southern University. On the campus may be found the Center for Wildlife Education, which offers an opportunity to view raptors, reptiles, and much more in their native environment.
  • Also on the campus is the Georgia Southern Museum, which features a large permanent display on the natural history of the Georgia coastal plain, including dinosaurs.
  • In the middle of old Statesboro sits the beautiful and historic Bulloch County Courthouse, built in 1894 and still in use today. The courthouse is framed by the old town square with storefronts lining all four sides. A wonderful photo op for those interested in old historic southern courthouses.

Claxton, GA

  • What can you say about a town that bills itself as the “Fruitcake Capital of the World” and is darned proud of it! There are no tours available at the Claxton Fruitcake factory (on Main St. two blocks west of 301) but there is a small gift shop and boutique that sells souvenir T-shirts, collectibles, and of course the product that made Claxton famous!

Glennville, GA

  • The Glennville-Tattnall County Museum contains artifacts and items of interest pertaining to the early history of the area. Included is a restored old time classroom with desks, blackboard and teacher’s desk.
  • Barnard St (CR 144) east of 301 is the main street and is lined with small antiques and collectibles shops.
  • Just south of town will be found the Folsom Farms Country Store, which is a factory outlet for locally grown Vidalia onions and associated products such as hot sauces, jams, jellies and salad dressings.

Ludowici, GA

Jesup, GA

  • US 301 in Jesup boasts one of the few remaining drive in theaters in the South. And it still is in operation!
  • Downtown Cherry St. (old 301) features a 50s retro look and lots of antique and collectibles shops, including the Cherry Street Antiques Mall.

Nahunta, GA

  • There are three antiques and collectibles stores on 301 in Nahunta. “My Sister’s
    Loft” is housed in the oldest building in town, which started life as a pharmacy 100 years ago. Facebook page here
  • Ten miles east of Nahunta on US 82 lies the civil war era town of Waynesville. There are several historic homes of interest as well as a monument to forty area men who were killed fighting the Union army and are buried in a mass grave.

Folkston, GA

  • One block off of US 301 stands the old Folkston train station which is now nirvana for train watchers and rail buffs. This is the famous Folkston funnel, so called because most of the train traffic (fifty to sixty trains a day!) to and from Florida must pass by this station. The old station platform has been converted for use as an observation deck.
  • Folkston is also known as the “Gateway to the Okefenokee” Swamp, which is a US National Wildlife Refuge. “Okefenokee” is an old Indian word meaning “Land of the Trembling Earth”. At the park, guided boat tours take vistors deep within the bowels of the swamp, with its cypress forests, historic canals, and open prairies. There are boardwalks, observation towers, and a restored “Cracker” homestead. The park teems with wildlife, including alligators, Sandhill cranes, woodpeckers, and over 400 other species of animals.

Hilliard, FL

  • At the Ga/Fl state line, there is a photo op just past the bridge over the St. Mary’s River. A very 60′s looking vintage “FLORIDA” welcome sign is a remnant of the old days when this route was the main funnel for southbound traffic.
  • East of Hilliard directly on the St. Mary’s River can be found the Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest.

Callahan, FL

End of the tour?

At the big intersection of Callahan, you have a choice to make.

  • If you turn left (eastbound) onto State Road A1A you may follow it ten miles and rejoin I-95. A1A is the beach route along the Atlantic ocean side of Florida and runs all the way to Miami, although it is not contiguous.
  • If you turn right (westbound), you can follow mostly rural US 301 all the way to Tampa Bay on Florida’s west coast. This route cuts through some of Florida’s finest horse breeding areas near Ocala, as well as citrus and farming concerns in the scenic part of North Florida. here is a good read on this route
  • If you continue straight (southbound) on US 1-23 you can follow it on into downtown Jacksonville, or hop on the I-295 beltway around Jacksonville a short distance down the road.