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The Driveby Tourist visits Southeastern US Weird Places. And, why wouldn’t I do that? Of course, I did see other places but these are fun stops. Of course, some are “weirder” than others! I have seven stops to show and tell you about. I certainly hope you enjoy them! And here’s a link to the most recent post and to a summary of all five quirky attraction posts.
Winston-Salem North Carolina
Winston-Salem hosts an ancient Shell gas station with the front shaped like a clamshell. Evidently, it’s the last remaining station like this. While it stands in a run-down neighborhood, the city takes pains to maintain it in its current state. Preservation North Carolina holds covenants on the property to assure the survival of the clamshell.
The local Shell distributors built seven of them in Winston-Salem and another nearby Kernersville. The shell itself became a regional office for Preservation North Carolina but now remains a shrine unto itself. While the building remains a museum, the service station shows antique photos, old Shell signs, miscellaneous antique cans, and a tin of vintage Monkey Grip Patch. The building’s hours of operation didn’t allow me to see the inside.
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I considered this one of the Southeastern US Weird Places! And wish I could have gone inside.
Entering South Carolina
South of the Border entertains travelers as it has since 1949. While South of the Border evolved, the place started as a liquor store just across the border from North Carolina. At the time, North Carolina remained a “dry” state, so business boomed. Soon, a ten-seat grill opened, followed by 20 motel rooms. Since people referred to the business as “south of the border”, the name became official in 1954.
Meanwhile, business steadily expanded and added a Mexican theme to build on the “south of the border” name. In 1964, plans for Interstate 95 introduced South of the Border to the “Great American Interstate System.” Since I-95 passed closely by, the current owners erected the 104-foot tall “Pedro”, the mascot. All of a sudden, the area became a town, with its own Post Office and zip code. (Actually, the nearby town of Hamer is the address.)
South of the Border includes shopping, dining, attractions, hotel, RV campground, gas stations, grocery store, and a truck stop. And, the area contains a convention center! Since I-95 is the major interstate on the East Coast, lots of traffic passes by the area. If you are in the area, be sure to stop!
Georgia & another of the Southeastern US Weird Places
Of course, The Tree that Owns Itself becomes a must-stop when traveling in the area. The tree stands in Athens GA, home of the University of Georgia. While the real story remains more folklore than fact, only one person other than the owner, William Jackson, claims to have seen the actual deed.
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While there is no legal “ownership of itself”, the city of Athens maintains and protects the tree, due to the folklore surrounding its story. The legal description puts the tree in the right of way along Finley Street. The city adopted a policy to maintain it as a public street tree.
Actually, the tree’s life began in the late 16th century to the late 18th century. The original tree fell in 1942 either due to a windstorm or dying from root rot. A new tree grew from an acorn of the original tree and sometimes takes the name of “Son of the Tree That Owns Itself”. Both trees appear in numerous national publications. And the tree remains a local landmark.
And, another of the Southeastern US Weird Places makes its home in Athens!
Georgia – Southeastern US Weird Places
Edit: This structure suffered vandalism earlier in 2022. Authorities dismantled it since it was not safe.
The Georgia Guidestones monument remains a mystery after 40 years. Here’s a link to an overview. In 1979, a man using the pseudonym of R. C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company on behalf of “a small group of loyal Americans”. Above all, the group remains anonymous to this day. The group commissioned the structure. And Christian delivered a scale model and 10 pages of specifications.
While Joe Fendley of Elberton Granite initially labeled Mr. Christian a “nut”, his inflated quote immediately became the actual price. And Mr. Fendley discovered that Mr. Christian created a perpetuity account at the local bank to support ongoing maintenance and repair. And the site did get vandalized several times since the year 2000.
The ten principles outlined suggest they apply to a post-apocalyptic world. Of course, they’ve been the subject of controversy and conspiracy theories. To demonstrate, the principles appear in eight current languages and four ancient writing forms. Specifically, they include Babylonian cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics. And English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, and Russian.
And so it goes! Stop and see it if you can.
Edit: Add the 10 principles on the large tablets
- Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
- Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
- Unite humanity with a living new language.
- Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
- Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
- Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
- Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
- Balance personal rights with social duties.
- Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite.
- Be not a cancer on the Earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.
- (Taken from Wikipedia)
Atlanta Southeastern US Weird Places
Tiny Doors of Atlanta serves to focus on the burgeoning Atlanta Arts Community. The project to create 7-inch doors started with artist Karen Anderson Singer’s idea to promote the arts in Atlanta. However, she needed an “in”, which she obtained through her persistence with local arts organizations. And now, she’s the Founding Director and Principal Artist of Tiny Door ATL.
Currently, there are over 25 of these doors located around Atlanta. And in various art forms. While the one above is painted, others are made of wood and attached to something in their location. But only one actually opens! And Door #658 is numbered as such as it’s 658 times 7 inches! And the one pictured above at the Visitor Center at Centennial Olympic Park occurred due to collaboration with the Lotus Eaters Club of Atlanta.
While there are, of course, thousands of attractions, sights, art, etc. in Atlanta, if you are interested make note of the locations and one of them may be near one of your destinations. Here is a link to the website.
Real (but quirky) Florida location
Since this place lies along my route, I had to stop to see it. Although not really a quirky place, I considered it one of the Southeastern US Weird Places because I could make a point of the beautiful view from the “top of the mountain!” Florida has the lowest high elevation of any state.
In fact, if the oceans rose 100 feet, much of Florida would be underwater! Although that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, Florida and other low-lying areas need to plan for oceans rising to some future level.
Alabama Southeastern US Weird Places
My last stop for quirky attractions in the Southeastern US came up as Bamahenge! This one is a quirky attraction. Bamahenge takes the stone sizes from Stonehenge but it isn’t a complete replica. The stones are made of fiberglass, weighted with concrete, and set into concrete pads with telephone poles.
Since the site contains only the explanation shown above, the same questions get asked about it as the original Stonehenge. So, How did it get there? Who Built It? Why?
Bamahenge stands aligned correctly with the summer solstice as Stonehenge does. The artist used only four different stone shapes. And with clever flipping and repositioning, all of them look different.
Classic Rock Recollection
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, from the album “South of the Border”
Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same
Written by: Patrick Simmons