Two weeks ago I was hanging around Dylann Roof’s neck of the South Carolina woods on a Sunday afternoon. The bombardment of media shelling the public with days of imagery of Charleston is mental shock treatment for a horrific incident.
The other morning I read Dylann Roof, the murderer of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, last resided in a rural town about 25 miles southeast of Columbia. That was the same area I was hanging out two weeks ago when I visited Congaree National Park.
US Route 601 Calhoun County, South Carolina
I drove many miles of road in a rural part of South Carolina searching for Congaree National Park, the largest tract of old growth river floodplain forest remaining in the southeastern United States.
South Carolina Highway 48 sign for Congaree National Park
I crossed the Congaree River on US Route 601 and turned left on SC Highway 48.
I did not pass through Eastover, South Carolina, the town reported as Dylann Roof’s residence. I drove within two miles of Eastover as I drove U.S. Route 601 to South Carolina Highway 48, a 29-mile road from Wateree to Columbia, South Carolina. This road is the access road to Congaree National Park. My thought that day was I had seen more churches than houses as I drove for dozens of miles around an area with no Verizon telephone reception.
St. Matthew’s Parish (1852), St. Matthews, South Carolina. The church was established in 1765 on a road halfway between Charleston and Columbia.
The news of this past week had me thinking about my time in Charleston, South Carolina last year. I had a reservation two weeks ago for two nights at The Mills House, a Wyndham Grand Hotel in historic Charleston, only a short walk down the street, about 15 minutes to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The link is the church’s fascinating history page.
I canceled my Charleston hotel reservation when I decided to spend more time in Asheville, North Carolina instead. My time in South Carolina only included a brief excursion to hike a few hours in Congaree National Park on my drive from Savannah, Georgia to Asheville North Carolina on a Sunday two weeks ago. And this was Dylann Roof’s place of madness.
I felt an entirely different vibe in my time spent in Dylann Roof’s neck of the woods. There were so many things I appreciated finding in those woods, a place where several species of trees have their largest known individual specimen in the world.
This South Carolina place is filled with beauty, if you open your eyes and mind and heart and center yourself in your surroundings.
Congaree National Park photos of Loblolly Pine, Pileated Woodpecker and Great Blue Heron at Weston Lake.
Last year I was in Charleston, South Carolina and published several articles in 2014 about the area.
- Images of Historic Charleston South Carolina (May 10)
- Red wolves, alligators, dolphin and birds at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge South Carolina (May 24)
- Historic Charleston, SC 1853 The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel (May 25)
- Meeting History on Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina (June 8)
- Hotel Review: Charleston Marriott South Carolina (June 12)
- One location, many memorials — Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina (June 14)