Highway 301, Part II

Olar

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.

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This was once the Olar Bank.

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Highway 301

During the period of growth of the nation’s Interstate Highway sIMG_0579ystem, from its beginnings right into the 1970s, an effect was felt by towns, businesses, and people who were left behind. These businesses that were left behind were located on the old routes, the routes that had been in use for 100+ years, but for whatever reason, had been passed over as new highway technology emerged in the name of progress. One of these old routes is U.S. Route 301, a spur of U.S. Route 1 that runs through the south Atlantic states, all the way to the Gulf coast, halfway into Florida. On a recent trip along 301 and another spur, 321, I took the time to capture a few of the relics along the way.

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An abandoned inn sits quietly at the intersection in a small town along 301 in Georgia.

Paradise Lost - Notice the huge hole in the roof.

Paradise Lost – Notice the huge hole in the roof.

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Right along the South Carolina/Georgia state line on the Savannah River, this beautiful old swingbridge lies in state. It is now part of a recreational rail-trail system.

Believe it or not, this restaurant was still open.

Believe it or not, this restaurant was still open.

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Nature abhors a vacuum, as is evidenced here.

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Welcome to Bygone Highways!

The purpose of this photoblog is to showcase many of the long-lost, forgotten gems along our older highways, and some of the gems that are slightly off the beaten path. I’ll include just about anything that fascinates me, but you can expect lots of subjects that reflect a colorful, nostalgic, or otherwise interesting history.