Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Small Town Spotlight: Dillon and Latta

Posted 6/8/2011 2:47:00 PM

Some folks place South of the Border in Dillon. And it is in Dillon County but closer to the tiny town of Hamer than the city of Dillon. Even though S.O.B., as the park is affectionately called, is sort of an ‘city’ unto itself, the understated neighboring communities have benefited economically from Alan Schafer’s overstated enterprise at the juncture of Interstate 95 and U.S. 301. It pays to be at the right place at the right time.

Actually, the founding of the city of Dillon is all about time and place.

Two enterprising men -- James Dillon and his son Thomas -- acquired 50 acres of land and turned them over to the Florence Railroad Company to run their tracks through a new town that would be named, of course, Dillon. That was in 1886. The building of a railroad depot brought settlers who built the town. In 1888, Dillon was chartered by the state legislature.

Today, the area along Main Street, radiating out from the original train depot, is a National Register commercial district. Passenger trains have trundled through Dillon since 1904. Amtrak’s Palmetto line still stops in town, twice a day -- northbound shortly after noon and southbound around 4:30 p.m.

A stone’s throw the depot at 200 W. Main St. is Kintyre House Grill and Tavern, a Scottish-themed restaurant whose menu features steak, chicken and seafood entrees and an impressive roster of important Scotch. The restaurant’s daytime hours vary so the visitor’s best bet is call ahead, (843) 841-1481 for reservations.

If you’re interested in staying overnight, The Columns Bed & Breakfast Inn, a restored 1903 mansion at 601 E. Main St., is the perfect place to slow down and get pampered.

Just south of Dillon down U.S. 301 is the picturesque town of Latta, whose origins date back to the early days of the railroad. Latta is the site of the Dillon County Museum is located. The museum, 101 S. Marion Street, is the restored office of Dr. Henry Edwards and contains items from his practice and other pieces of historical significance. The museum is open daily from 1:30 to 4:30 and by appointment.

Across the street from the museum is the restored Bethea Post Office and General Store, which dates back to 1888. It’s named for the town’s first postmaster, Robert Bethea, a black merchant who was appointed by President Grover Cleveland. Just behind the post office is another restored structure, the Vidalia Academy, a one-room school house that was originally located on a nearby farm. Display boards outside of both structures tell their stories.

These historical and cultural gems in Latta are perfectly complemented by the Abingdon Manor Inn and Restaurant, 307 Church St. Originally built as a private residence in 1902, the Abingdon Manor now operates as AAA Four Diamond restaurant whose menu includes Caribbean snapper, rack of lamb, beef Wellington and grilled shrimp in Romesco sauce.

Abingdon also features seven richly appointed guest rooms for visitors wishing to spend more time in Latta. Click here for more information or to make reservations, or call 888-752-5090.