A trip to the tiny town of Lone Star, SC, is a journey not so much into the past, but into oblivion.
The unincorporated community, located in Calhoun County just a few miles from Lake Marion, is just a few notches above ghost town status.
Its downtown, once a bustling small-town locale, now features four abandoned buildings: An old freight depot, a general store and two old-style gas stations. Nearby is an active African Methodist Church. A few homes and cotton farms can be seen in the surrounding area.
Lone Star was on the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, between Rimini and Creston, another pair of communities that are all but gone.
The railroad line, now owned by CSX, still runs through the town, but there’s no longer any need to stop in Lone Star.
It’s apparent that the freight depot at some point was pulled away from the tracks and relocated on the other side of the road that runs through the town.
It sits silent, padlocked, with a sign that warns visitors that “Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden,” and that violators will be prosecuted.
In fairness to Lone Star there used to be more to the community, but a few years back several of the more attractive structures, all dating back around 1900, were relocated down the road to Santee, where they were set up as Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile.
A few years ago, Lone Star was in the news regularly – not for what was, but for what seemed to be coming.
SC Congressman Jim Clyburn, a Democrat who served as House Majority Whip from 2007 until 2011, championed the construction of a bridge from Lone Star to Rimini across Lake Marion, a man-made body of water that nevertheless features pristine wetlands.
While the project would likely have been of benefit to the mostly black communities on either end of the proposed $150 million bridge, it faced opposition from hunters, anglers, environmentalists, good-government types and much of South Carolina’s political establishment, according to a 2007 New York Times article.
Eventually, the plan was dropped, and Lone Star’s slow and steady deterioration into a ghost town was allowed to continue apace.
(Top: View of what remains of downtown Lone Star, showing general store and two gas stations. The freight depot, shown below, is to the left of the general store.)