Highway 301, Part II


Along Route 321, a spur of 301 in South Carolina, south of the little Scandinavian-themed towns of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, lies the little ghost town of Olar. While Olar still boasts a population of 237 people, its “downtown” section is virtually deserted. But this little southern town located along what is historically known as the Carolina Highway has its own claim to fame.

During the early part of the 20th Century Olar was home to a visionary named C.F. Rizer. Rizer operated a successful dry goods business in Olar, which included buggies and other transportation-related products. By 1913, Mr. Rizer had expanded his business to include a new transportation product, the Ford Model T automobile. His auto sales business was doing so well, he needed 15 clerks to handle both the dry goods business and the auto trade.

The following year, Henry Ford was ready to expand his production facility, but he was lacking the necessary capital. Knowing that C.F. Rizer was a true believer in the product, Ford asked Mr. Rizer if he’d be willing to invest. Rizer did, to the tune of $25,000, and by the end of 1914, Ford sold a half million cars. 256 of those cars went straight to Olar. It took a train a half-mile long measuring 2,880 feel long, pulling 64 boxcars, to make the delivery from Detroit. The Fords had to be assembled at their destination, for a contract price of $15 per car. By 1920, Rizer announced that he would be dropping all other products, so his company could concentrate solely on the Ford automobiles, which by then included sedans, campelets, touring cars, runabouts, and trucks. By fall of 1920, he added the Fordson tractor.

Here is all that remains of downtown Olar.


This was once the Olar Bank.



Highway 301, Part II — 4 Comments

    • Hello Peter, yes, sometimes, but on this particular trip, there wasn’t enough time. I hope to post a new story soon about an abandoned brewery that I did get inside.

  1. Hello, I just came across your picture and it brought tears to my eyes. My parents (Jw & Marie Adair)used to own the gas station with the two big bay doors from the middle 80’s until the middle 90’s. There is a tree planted in the park in memory of my mother. It is such a shame that the little town of Olar had gone down so much, but seeing your paintings & photos brings back such wonderful memories of living there with my family & all of the wonderful elders of the town.

    • Terry, thank you for your comments. We were just passing through and fell in love with that little town. If only those streets could talk. We had a long drive ahead of us, so we weren’t able to spend as much time there as we’d have liked.

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