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Adventures in Roadside Archaeology - Monticello Motel, Ulmer, SC

Always up for some roadside archaeology, Levi and I went exploring along US 301 in July. It was in South Carolina, we did a quick “drive-by (photo) shooting” in the tiny town of Ulmer SC.

Ulmer is a bit less than 3 square miles in size, the population hovers around 100. If you blink you’ll miss it.

But back in the middle of 20th Century America, Ulmer was a busy stop along US 301 for northerners on their way to and from the Sunshine State.

Owned and operated by Talmage Angle and his wife Virta, the Monticello offered such luxuries as a tile bath, a tub and shower and steam heat…IN EACH ROOM!

In June of 1970, someone at the Monticello was selling a 1960 Cadillac hearse and a set of professional Gretsch drums. I wish there was a photo of that!

Hard times hit South Carolina mom and pop businesses along 301 in the middle of the 1970’s. Interstate 95 was completed thru the state, shortening the trek for Florida bound travelers by an hour and half.

Talmage and Virta? They sold the Monticello Motel and retired to Danville City Virginia. He passed in 1971 at 67 years of age, Virta made it to 90 and passed in 2007.

In later life, the Monticello became the Connelly Motel, with “bikers, hunters and truckers welcomed.”
Since the Connelly closed, time and weather have done their part and the sign out front again advertises the Monticello Motel.

Today, the old gal sits abandoned, waiting for US 301 to get travelers once again.

Adventures in Roadside Archaeology - Florida on Film edition

Got up a bit late for “regular” church, so Levi & I had “car church” today. Car Church consists of a ride thru the Florida backroads, with a soundtrack of Willie & Bobbie Nelson’s “Farther Along” and “Dust on the Bible” by the Bad Livers.
Car Church usually results in some incredible conversations with my big man and of course, a few adventures along the way. The conversations are like Vegas. What’s said in the car stays in the car. The adventures on the other hand, are not.

Being a fan of back roads, we were psyched to discover an abandoned, all wood, one lane bridge and roadway that dated back to the early days of auto travel.

We ventured on to Rosewood, home to one of Florida’s darkest stories. You may recall the film of the same name with Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle. Some scenes were filmed here.

Because “Elvis is Everywhere,” we stopped by Yankeetown Florida, where the bulk of his movie “Follow That Dream” was filmed.

We did some of our patented roadside archaeology and found the Elvis-related “Weall House” back in the hammock (that’s Florida-speak for “woods.”) a couple miles from Yankeetown. The first scenes of “Follow That Dream” were shot here. Unfortunately they didn’t make the final cut, but WE GOT PICTURES!

The house is in the middle of nowhere on a dead end road. The old house (heck, it was old in 1961!) is well maintained and looks like Elvis just stepped off the porch.

We headed over to Bird Creek Bridge to recreate a famous Elvis photo. The exact spot where E sat is the railing on Bird Creek Bridge, 4th post in, just after the expansion joint in the road. We didn’t have to say a word, a local who was fishing on the bridge knew why we were there.

“Y’all need a cane pole like Elvis!”

We chatted a bit. Seems the mullet were being temperamental today. We headed south towards home.

Even though my favorite road Route 66 runs from Chicago to LA, Levi & I even did some 66ing today. Passing thru Crystal River on the way home, we stopped and did a bit more roadside archaeology, standing where Martin “Adam-12” Milner did in an episode of his earlier series “Route 66.”

5 hours after our day began, we got back home.

The next time you oversleep on a Sunday, give “car church” a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Adventures In Roadside Archaeology - "Social Distancing Edition" - Grant Town WV


This COVID era, “Social Distancing” edition of "Adventures in Roadside Archaeology" is brought to you by me (who never left the house) and my Uncle Dick Laxton (who never left his car!)

Dad grew up in the hollers of West Virginia. My granddad was a coal miner and over the years dad has told me a story or two about shopping at the “company store” as a kid.

Coal miners had the opportunity to get paid in cash or script. For every dollar earned, the coal company would offer you $1.10 (for example) in script. The script could only be spent at the coal company store.

If you took the script, the coal company would get you coming and going - they’d pay you more in script than what you earned in cash, but they may have only paid 70 cents on what they were selling in the company store for a dollar.

For dad’s birthday, I found a piece of Koppers Store script from Koppers Coal Company where my grandad and Uncle Dickie worked. I framed it with a 30’s era pic of Koppers Store 23 in Grantown WVA, (where my grandparents lived and shopped at) and gave it to Dad.

I then Facebook messaged my Uncle Dickie who sent me photos of the Koppers Store 23 building as it stands today, almost 90 years later! The front stairs and outside display cases are long gone, but you can still see holes above the entrance that at one time held the frame work for the sign that said KOPPERS STORE 23.

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Adventures in Roadside Archaeology - A Bunker, Bullets and WWII


I‘ve lived in Florida going on 18 years. Just about since that time, I’ve driven by this concrete lump down by the local airport every couple months and wondered, “What was that thing?” Today I found out.

The US Army established the Brooksville Airport in 1942 when Hernando County was a sparsely populated area. During construction , the Army built this 30 foot replica machine gun bunker. Then, they sent B-17’s up and used this thing for target practice.

In the 75-plus years since, the area has grown by leaps and bounds, but this remnant of WWII still remains.