Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins



Even a ghost town can be full of life

Posted 5/24/2011 11:11:00 PM

Some people say Lone Star is a ghost town, but there is a lot of life in this small Calhoun County community … and in the most surprising places.

Lone Star’s abandoned buildings and empty warehouses with rusted metal piled high on their decks suggest that life has passed this former lumber-mill town by. But that would be the wrong conclusion to draw.

That would be understandable, though, considering just 10 miles east of Lone Star, travelers along S.C. 176 will pass through Cameron, whose welcome sign says, “Our Pretty Little Town.” (This sign would appear strange if it were attached to Lone Star.)

Cameron is three-square-miles of small town charm. One of the first towns established after the founding of Calhoun County, Cameron is nearly overrun with beautiful homes with neatly planted flower gardens. Resurrection Lutheran Church at 8160 Old State Road (S.C. 176) adds its own unique splendor as one of the oldest structures in town, dating back to 1916, just eight years after the county was carved out of parts of Orangeburg and Lexington counties.

Though Cameron is small, it is not a destination you want to visit if you are short on time. It would be best to wait for a day when you can leisurely stroll the quiet, unlittered streets, breathe in deeply the country air and savor the town to the fullest. (Pack a lunch, though. When we asked for a restaurant in town, folks laughed and pointed in the direction of nearby St. Matthews.)

Turning off of S.C. 176 onto Old Cameron Road toward Lone Star, we recommend making a beeline to Low Falls Landing and Bait Shop. It’s there that you will find Dan Daniels, who has made a living out of death, which seems appropriate for a “ghost town.” Daniels is a five-time world record-holding taxidermist and local celebrity.

A youthful 71, Daniels opened the bait shiop in Lone Star five years ago after moving from Fort Myers, Fla., where the local press hailed his artistry and called him “Master of the Mount.” Daniels is an unconventional sort who gave up the corporate life to chase his passion. In Low Falls, Daniels’ passion is on display -- uncoiling snakes, prowling foxes, climbing fox squirrels and snarling garfish. Daniels also carries bait and tackle supplies, fishing rods, crickets, lures, bombers and hooks for those who are actually headed for the waters of Lake Marion just down the road.

But it was the stuffed critters that led a visitor to ghostly downtown Lone Star to recommend Low Falls. “He’s got some really strange stuff in there,” said the visitor, turning to leave.

Daniels’ address is 958 Low Falls Road, Cameron, 29030, but it seems a world away from that Pretty Little Town.