This column is a margin, don’t use it




A10 adv 010107

SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2007

This column is a margin, don’t use it

This is a story about a congressman, a bridge and a swamp.
It’s about history and memory. Race and class. Land and power. And it asks: What do we want South Carolina to look like?

Crossing a Great Divide

S2 010107 S2



About ‘Crossing a Great Divide’
Fort Jackson Shaw A.F.B.

What you’ll find

76 48 378
Wat e

Sumter Wedgefield
Manchester State Forest






Is the way it was the way it should be?


ree Ri v e r

on g



Ri v

USAF bombing range

Getting one bridge may become a lifelong mission for U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn. PAGE 4



Sandy Run

Congaree National Park


Paxville Proposed Rimini to Lone Star bridge

Environmentalists sue, determined to protect one of the state’s largest remaining wildlife habitats. PAGE 5

3 4 5







Farmers J.D. and Martha Shirer like Lone Star the way it is. Pecan-shipper David K. Summers Jr. wants retirees and golf courses. PAGE 6



Lone Star
Lake Marion
Santee State Park




il Ra




Santee National 95 Wildlife Refuge

The S.C. governor, Green Scissors, Friends of the Earth, the Pig Book: Everyone has something to say. PAGE 7




Ezekiel Bodrick wants change; he wants a bridge. PAGE 8


Go to thestate .com and click the “Crossing a Great Divide” link for special features: Video interviews with Ezekiel Bodrick, LeRoy Hampton and others involved in the bridge battle Photos showing construction of the Santee Dam and Spillway More photos from Lone Star, Rimini and the Upper Santee Swamp. More on the pedestrian bridge over S.C. 277 that was almost a dress rehearsal for the furor over the Briggs-DeLainePearson Connector. A photographic history of the life and career of Rep. Jim Clyburn. A comparison of the cost of the Briggs-DeLainePearson Connector with other bridges around the state.

Southern conservation has a problem: The inhabitants of remaining natural areas often are poor, rural blacks longing for development. PAGE 9


October 1997

Railroad trestle built across Santee River connects Lone Star and Rimini.

Clyburn decides to pursue a Calhoun-Clarendon Causeway, connecting Lone Star and Rimini.

April 1939

June 1998

Works Progress Administration begins clearing land for lakes Marion and Moultrie.
Go to to view a slide show of 1940s photos by C.R. Banks, showing the land clearing for the Santee Cooper project.

First federal funding for project is $6.5 million from Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

Making lakes Marion and Moultrie required what was the nation’s largest-ever land clearing and public works project. PAGE 10

8 9

February 2003

Final environmental impact statement by S.C. Department of Transportation approves project.


November 1941 February 1942 April 1968

March 2003

“We’re here forever,” say the brothers of Pack’s Landing. “Once there’s a foot in the door, it’s over,” says Dan Daniels of Low Falls Landing. PAGE 11

Santee River impounded.

DOT approves Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector as name, honoring Summerton families involved in Briggs v. Elliott, a school desegregation lawsuit.


First electricity generated.

June 2003 September 2005

A bridge would make Sundays better, but what about fishing and hunting? PAGE 12

10 11

Federal Highway Administration gives OK.

S.C. Legislature creates Orangeburg-CalhounSumter Toll Bridge Authority.

November 1969

S.C. Wildlife, Coastal Conservation League and Audubon South Carolina sue DOT and Federal Highway Administration to stop bridge.

From the moment there was a lake, there was talk of other bridges. PAGE 13

Wilbur Smith and Associates’ study for tollbridge between Lone Star and Rimini finds revenue would not support cost.

November 2006

Democrats win control of Congress, elect Clyburn majority whip.

November 1992

James E. Clyburn elected to U.S. House of Representatives.

January 2007

September 1996

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control denies water quality permit needed by DOT.

Fluor Daniel Consulting’s study on development of Lake Marion counties mentions need for bridge.

May 2007

DOT appeals inclusion in lawsuit.


Five stories explain Rep. Jim Clyburn.


The wildlife of the Santee Swamp. PAGE 15

These women don’t want a bridge, and they don’t want industry, so they’ve started a petition. PAGE 16

Whites and blacks accuse each other of bringing race into the conversation. PAGE 17



A documentary filmmaker asks about promises.


A cacophony of competing interests or a collective dream? PAGE 19


Building the special section

Story by Claudia Smith
Brinson, cbrinson, (803) 771-8683

Photographs by Gerry
Melendez, gmelendez, (803) 771-8420

Photo editor: Al Anderson Art director: Thomas Peyton Copy editors: Bobby Bryant and
Eleanor Sibal

Story editor: Mark Layman

Designer: Bill Campling

To order reprints of photographs in this section, go to and click on the Photo Reprints link, or call (800) 390-7269.

The State’s Claudia Smith Brinson and Gerry Melendez will discuss the bridge project on a special edition of ETV’s “The Big Picture” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on WRLK-35, cable channel 11. It will be re-broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. May 27. The companion radio program, “The Big Picture on the Radio” will air at 9 a.m. Friday on ETV Radio’s four news format stations.



S3 010107


1 Down to the river


Dawn on Pack’s Lake is quiet and colorful. Boating as the day begins offers the sense the world belongs to hawks, ibis, cormorants and fishes.

In rural South Carolina, memory is long, many generations long. And often unforgiving.
Ezekiel Bodrick, tall and strong and 83, crushes beer cans with a heavy stick. A washtub full of silvery crumpled aluminum sits beside his Last Stop Convenience Store, across the railroad tracks from the ghost town that once was Lone Star. “A few bought up all the land and keep it; that’s not progress,” he says and stops to take off his brown narrow-brimmed hat. “Times change, but some who don’t go nowhere and see nothing wouldn’t know. The old ones are still killing themselves trying to hold everybody else down.” Bodrick is black and a landowner. He and four of his brothers and sisters, a child and a grandchild live in the 6th Congressional District, represented by Jim Clyburn. It’s a district divided by Lake Marion and a seven-decades-long conversation about a bridge. The plan to build a bridge across Upper Santee Swamp is of keen interest to Bodrick. The road on the Lone Star side would slide by his family tract. In the particular — a swamp, a bridge, a congressman — can be found the universal — who we are and what place means to us. It’s just a bridge, at this stage an imagined bridge, the Briggs-DeLainePearson Connector. But this idea of a bridge sags under the weight of questions about race and class and power, about fairness, about progress, whatever that is. When Clyburn decided he wanted a bridge — and the governor and environmentalists decided they didn’t — another civil war was under way. The classic rubs and graces — old grudges, selfish dreams; love of place, hope of betterment — are engaged. Since 1939, when construction began on dams to tame the Santee River and generate electricity, talk of a bridge between Lone Star and Rimini has troubled the waters. Studies on adding a bridge cropped up in the 1950s, ’60s and ’90s. This decade has brought dismay over the escalating cost, now $150 million; mocking comments that a bridge linking tiny Lone Star and Rimini would go from “nowhere to nowhere”; a lawsuit to stop the bridge; a feud between a governor and a congressman; a documentary film; a permit denial — and a frequently reiterated vow by one of Congress’ most powerful men that a bridge will be built, no matter what. But to Bodrick, all that’s just static. Clyburn’s bridge and roads mean jobs, more neighbors, a better future.

This idea of a bridge sags under
the weight of questions about race and class and power, about fairness, about progress.

Bodrick wants the bridge; he wants change. ■ ■ ■

father couldn’t travel. To Summers, the bridge and its roads mean convenience, development and a chance to redeem a loss. ■ ■ ■

In rural South Carolina, ties to land last; family businesses pass from generation to generation. What happens to one affects all. David K. Summers Jr. sits behind a big desk in his office at Cameron’s Golden Kernel Pecan Co. He and brother Bill took on the family shelling and shipping business in the 1960s. White-haired and portly, Summers combines a benevolent smile and a canny mind. Nearly three decades on Calhoun County Council have earned him the moniker King David. He complains of the rambling route between Orangeburg and Sumter, blaming politics for the lack of a more direct course and for the 1950 car wreck that killed his father. Summers, 66, is white and well-off. He wants the Connector; he wants the road his

In rural South Carolina, conversations are seldom about just the present moment. There’s the shimmer of centuries when we talk about social or economic or political issues, about whether the way it was is the way it still should be. J.D. Shirer is farmer-tan, his cap sunbleached, his sense of irony well-honed as his truck bumps past his just-picked Lone Star cotton fields. “They’ve already been across my field, putting in stakes,” he says of an effort to mark the proposed Connector’s route. “I asked, ‘Who gave you permission to be in my field?’ Then I asked, ‘What will you do when I pull the stakes up? I can’t farm with the stakes.’ And the guy laughed and said, ‘That’s my job security.’”

And Shirer laughs. To him, this is an old story. After all, he says, his father was a highway commissioner in the 1950s, and a study then concluded that existing crossings, one near Congaree Swamp at U.S. 601, and one near Santee at U.S. 301, were “the two places to cross water.” Shirer’s grandfather and father and uncles farmed. His brother, son and cousins farm. The family members farm Shirer land or Stoudemire land or Zeagler land — they’re all related by blood and marriage — and mean to keep passing it down, keep farming. “They would be coming in and taking away from us what’s family-owned. They want to do something for other people and disrupt our lives,” says wife Martha Shirer, whose grandmother was a Stoudemire, whose brother is married to her husband’s first cousin. The Shirers are white, in their 60s. They don’t want the Connector slicing up their fields. “We’ve been here all our lives, and we like it the way it is: quiet,” says Shirer. To the Shirers, the bridge and roads mean disruption, land divided, land lost. ■ ■ ■ In rural South Carolina, poverty is familiar. So is beauty. The 6th District contains five of the state’s six poorest counties. It also contains Congaree National Park, Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie, Francis Marion National Forest, The Great Swamp Sanctuary. Guaranteed then: A clash between those who want to develop and those who want to preserve. Angela Viney, dark-haired and intense, a West Virginia coal miner’s daughter, ran the S.C. Wildlife Federation from 1976 to 2006. She talks of visiting the Upper Santee Swamp, which the proposed Connector would cross, and promising herself nothing would be harmed and those fishing on the banks would remain. The Wildlife Federation has opposed the Connector since 2000, when the S.C. Department of Transportation released a feasibility study. At a meeting of conservationists and sportsmen, “Everybody expressed concern over losing an area that is a pristine wildlife habitat with recreational hunting and fishing,” says Viney. To her, the bridge and roads represent disregard for plants, animals, rare places. To her, this seems willful destruction. In September 2006, three environmental organizations sued in federal court to stop the bridge. But that’s just the latest in a long story getting longer. And those for and those against look to Clyburn.

At 17, Ezekiel Bodrick ran away to North Carolina and a paycheck. ‘My room, food and water cost $5, I sent Daddy $5, and I kept $5. When I came home he was the most happiest man I ever seen. I had some money, and he had some.’




S4 010107


2 The total of his experiences


‘I predict at some point in the future, there’s going to be a bridge across Lake Marion. That’s going to happen,’ says U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn. ‘It’s not that people resent the vision, they resent the fact I have a vision.’

Young Jim Clyburn pedaled his bicycle past pine trees and cotton fields, past concrete-block stores and prim white churches, from Sumter to Pinewood and the shores of Lake Marion.
His minister father preached do-ityourself messages. His beautician mother attended college while her children attended elementary school. He played the clarinet and dreamed of a musician’s life. “We are but the sum total of our experiences,” he says. The Ku Klux Klan beat a white band director for teaching black students at his Camden school. A white man kicked his father for daring to ask directions. He marched for civil rights and was arrested. He marched for civil rights and met his wife, Emily England. He taught history in Charleston; he directed youth and migrant-worker programs. He ran for public office and was defeated, three times. He is the sum total of such experiences. And that is why, he explains, he walks government halls, stands in convention centers, sits in conference rooms with people who see the world one way, a way entirely different from his way — yet keeps on working: “They don’t have my experiences,” he says. If you think the question of a bridge across Lake Marion will go away, you don’t know Jim Clyburn. If you think a permit denial or a lawsuit, hostility or racist attacks will stop him, you don’t know Jim Clyburn. In the scope of things — which is the large and needy 6th Congressional District in the 21st century — one bridge doesn’t seem much to get or to give up. But if you think that, you don’t know the eight-term legislator, the majority whip for the 110th Congress, the third most powerful Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’s a man with a mission. Words like “vision,” “mission” and “purpose” pepper his speech, but the preacher’s son sometimes names it more dramatically: a divine calling. So he persists. Ten years ago, he wanted a federal courthouse named after Matthew J. Perry Jr., a civil rights lawyer and the state’s first black federal judge. Clyburn went up against U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, who thought the Columbia courthouse should be an annex of the Strom Thurmond Federal Building, repeating his name. Clyburn won. U.S. District Judge Perry presides in an elegant columned courthouse downtown named the Matthew J. Perry Jr. United States Courthouse. “I was told I couldn’t do it,” Clyburn

If you think the question of a bridge across
Lake Marion will go away, you don’t know Jim Clyburn. If you think a permit denial or a lawsuit, hostility or racist attacks will stop him, you don’t know Jim Clyburn.

S.C. State alumnus Jim Clyburn garnered worldwide attention for the historically black college when the first Democratic debate of the presidential race was held there in April. From left, John Edwards, Clyburn, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

said at the time. “Then I was told I would never get it through the Senate. Then I was told I would never get it built in my lifetime.” But that would be underestimating Clyburn or the strength he finds in a calling. Retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings says Clyburn has long been the man to see when hunting votes. U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail, mentions his leading the Faith Working Group for the House Democrats and suggests one day he will write “his own Book of James.”

Judge Richard Fields, 75 and retired from state circuit court, remembers advising a young Clyburn: “You know the story of the house of straw. You huff and puff and huff and puff and blow it down. “So they build a house of brick. You huff and puff and huff and puff and huff and puff, and you can’t blow it down. “You got to get inside. You can’t change things from outside no matter how well-meaning you may be.” Fields loves this story, as he should, because Clyburn is indeed in the House, as in U.S. and a capital H.

There, Clyburn is known for his ability to negotiate, to count and collect votes, to sustain relationships, to suppress ego for goal. He is known for power. Here, among African-Americans, he is known for breaking through — first black man on a governor’s staff, first black South Carolinian in Congress since Reconstruction. Here, among many whites, he’s known for a bridge. Not for his doggedness, his ambition, his power, but for a bridge and its price tag. He’s getting impatient with all that.




S5 010107


3 Paradise and paradox


Early mornings in May the sky and water seem to merge as the swamp warms and awakens near Low Falls Landing.

You might say Jim Clyburn is a force of nature going up against the defenders of nature.
His proposed bridge would cross the Upper Santee Swamp, traveling parallel to a railroad trestle. Swamp sunflowers bloom bright yellow. From the many hues of spring leaves, a great blue heron flies up the Santee River. In the Upper Santee Swamp, more great blue herons cross the water than do boats on a sunny afternoon. The quiet men fishing in the shade compete with anhingas, ospreys and cormorants. On slender tree branches, the cormorants spread dark glossy wings to dry after diving for food. Look closely at water’s edge and anhingas are swimming, their snaky heads weaving. Farther up , into Sparkleberry Swamp, there’s just the water and the sawgrass and the woods, the fish and the gators and the silence. “The thing that bugs me is we don’t recognize this jewel as a national resource,” says Jane Lareau, land-use director with the S.C. Coastal Conservation League. “We go to Georgia for the Okefenokee; we go to Florida for the Everglades. Why aren’t we going to South Carolina for Sparkleberry?” That’s not all that’s bugging environmentalists. In 2006, the League, Audubon South Carolina and the S.C. Wildlife Federation sued the S.C. Department of Transportation and the

Early in the battle, calls came from environmentalists
in other states, asking what the heck was going on? Why make Clyburn mad? Nail-biting increases as Clyburn’s political power grows.
Federal Highway Administration. The lawsuit contends, “The proposed connector would degrade and destroy significant natural resources in one of the largest remaining wildlife habitats in South Carolina while serving no demonstrated transportation purpose.” J. Blanding Holman says, “You don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot.” Holman, the environmental groups’ attorney, is with the Chapel Hill office of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s. “If the point is an attractive place where people want to come, and part of the value is remoteness, you defeat it by having a road. “There’s a paradox,” he adds, citing his interpretation of Clyburn’s stance: “We’ll build a bridge, and it will lead to economic development, but we won’t hurt the area because the bridge won’t have that much traffic.” The lawsuit does have another agenda. It is as much about challenging the practices of DOT as opposing a bridge. The lawsuit argues DOT’s required environmentalimpact study was deficient because it did not properly address the Connector’s impact or alternatives to it.The lawsuit also says DOT ignored its own conclusion that use would be low and reduce Orangeburg to Sumter travel time by just minutes. David Farren, another attorney with the center, calls the Connector “a porkbarrel project looking for a purpose.” The bridge construction will ruin habitat; the bridge’s existence will pollute water with runoff and trash, interfere with animals’ travel patterns and rob the swamp of its silence, say the SELC attorneys. And for what? asks the lawsuit, pointing to the DOT forecast of limited use. Of course, all this means those suing struggle with a paradox, too: A bridge will harm the environment, although it won’t be used. “First and foremost, we come at this from a fiscal point of view,’ says Norm Brunswig, executive director of Audubon South Carolina. “We think it’s a huge waste of money to build a bridge with no measurable, predictable benefit to anybody. “Starting from that point, you can’t justify any loss of habitat.” ■ ■ ■ Environmentalists and the media cannot resist the word “pristine” when describing the area the bridge will cross, the Upper Santee Swamp. Little is pristine, as in pure, anywhere anymore, which is their point. However, Lake Marion is man-made. The woods are second-growth, cut for timber in the early 1900s. The Santee River is dammed, limiting fish migration. From 1977 to 2000, a hazardous-waste landfill last owned by Safety-Kleen operated near Pinewood, just 1,200 feet from the lake’s shore. And 20 miles from Rimini, the pilots of Shaw Air Force Base use the Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, 12,520 acres along S.C. 261, for bombing practice. No, the swamp is not untouched. But it has had 64 years to recover from the dramatic rearrangement of the landscape as Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie and their dams were created to provide jobs to hungry South Carolinians and, ultimately, electricity to those without. Even a pause at a paved landing reveals beauty and value: geographic, social, spiritual. The environmentalists are sure this is an area worth fighting for. They are sure, too, that few such areas remain in South Carolina. And they are sure Clyburn is not a guy to make angry. But he is angry. That brings on anxiety because Clyburn is labeled “a friend of the environment,” regularly ranking high on annual scorecards of the League of Conservation Voters, the political voice of the environmental and conservation community. Early in the battle, calls came from environmentalists in other states, asking what the heck was going on? Why make Clyburn mad? Nail-biting increases as Clyburn’s political power grows. Behind the scenes, activists say Clyburn was put-out from the get-go that his pro-environment stances didn’t earn him a pass on the proposed Connector. Many activists are outraged, or hurt, that Clyburn says their opposition is racist, that they want to keep black people poor and helpless. It’s an accusation that unnerves them. They want to be the good guys, not the bad guys. Says Lareau: “He’s lost his mind on the subject.”

‘Used to be you could catch bream most anywhere,’ says Louis ‘Sam’ Elliott of Elliott’s Landing. ‘Now there aren’t as many fish because of the big catfish. About 50 pounds is the biggest I’ve ever caught. I’ve seen them 80 pounds.’




S6 010107 USE THIS


4 My granddaddy’s land
Love of land may spring from family ties to place, from attachment to beauty, from gratitude for its usefulness or from dreams of its potential.
J.D. Shirer and David K. Summers Jr. see their homeplaces and their futures differently — and so they see the bridge differently. Shirer’s 250 acres stretch beside what was Lone Star’s downtown, toward what was the powerful Santee River. Downtown is ghostly, the river is tamed, but Shirers still hand down and farm land. The Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector would cut through land Shirer leases to a nursery, then his farmland and the center pivot of his irrigation system, penning his brick home within a triangle of roads. Shirers have been cutting trees and planting crops at Lone Star for at least four generations. J.D. Shirer’s grandfather, William Perry Shirer, logged and farmed land at and near Low Falls Landing. After two children died of malaria, he moved his home five miles away from the water to escape the mosquitoes. He bought up cotton in the 1920s, stashing it in Augusta, Ga. When cotton prices crashed, he lost the cotton and the land. J.D.’s father, Jesse D. Shirer, bought the land back, acre by acre. He owned a livery stable, a saw mill and a cotton gin and logged the Upper Santee Swamp, as had Shirer’s grandfather. “They used to run barges from Buckingham Landing to ship stuff to Charleston,” says J.D. Shirer. That ended when the S.C. Public Service Authority, better known as Santee Cooper, bought and cleared land for the lakes. “I say they took the land,” says Shirer, 64. “They lease land or sell it now and get a big price. I don’t see where that’s right.” Shirer doesn’t find Clyburn’s bridge plans “right,” either. He says he confronted Clyburn at Lone Star and in Washington, telling him, “If you want your name on something, put a plaque on the railroad trestle.” Wife Martha Carson Shirer says: “My daddy had land that was his daddy’s. When granddaddy died, his land was divided among the children. “It goes back. Everyone around here has been here. Sometimes, if someone wants to buy an acre of land, it disturbs us. They won’t hold onto it like we do because it’s sentimental. “We would like to hold onto what we have and keep it like we have it.” While the Shirers’ kin and farming neighbors share that view, minutes back down S.C. 33, in Cameron, another white landowner sees change coming — and approves. “Oldest Buyer and Shipper in the Carolinas” boasts the sign over Golden Kernel Pecan Co., its country-store facade


Everybody around here has been here forever, say farmers Martha and J.D. Shirer, and a new bridge and roads won’t help them. ‘The only thing that would thrive would be drugs and crime.’
says Summers. “If you put in a bridge, it’s like a racetrack around the water.” In South Carolina, “right now” always includes “back then,” and for Summers, back then includes his father’s 1950 death and another reason to support the Connector. “He had a check on a bank from Georgia, and they wanted to charge him a large fee to cash the check,” Summers recounts. “He did business with a Sumter bank, and thought, ‘I can go over there and they’ll cash it.’” He did, and it cost him his life. His 1949 Mercury was hit by a tractor-trailer; he was thrown out, his neck broken. “He bent the steering wheel, trying to hold on,” says Summers. “I was a little young fella. I heard then talk about the U.S. 301 bridge was supposed to come in here, cross Lone Star and Rimini and go to Orangeburg. It’s a straight shot, Orangeburg to Florence, but politics got into it and kept it from going that way.” Summers repeats a conversation with James Cuttino Jr. before the Sumter state representative’s death. Cuttino reminisced about his 1960s efforts to get a bridge, a bridge that “would have cost $4 million,” says Summers, who lingers on that sum, which seems small now. This time, Summers believes it will happen; he’s betting on Clyburn. He says environmentalists erred in opposing their ally. “Those tree-huggers, Clyburn was the only friend they had,” he says. “You beat up a guy in public, he’ll show you who walks the dog.”

‘The lake area is getting ready
to pop. If you put in a bridge, it’s like a racetrack around the water.’
adorned with railings and rockers, its shelves inside holding pecans and more pecans: in tins, tubs, boxes; orangefrosted, butter-roasted, honey-roasted, chocolate-covered. David K. Summers Jr. and brother Bill Summers run the store and shelling plant, with the help of David’s wife, daughter and son-in-law. Home for the brothers is right across S.C. 33 — Bill in the family house, whose front rooms served as an office for a physician grandfather, David next door in an imposing Georgian colonial. Dr. S.J. Summers, their grandfather, was the state’s first to plant pecan seedlings on a commercial scale. David K. Summers, their father, was the state’s first to start a shelling plant in the Carolinas. He died young — and in that death is a story to come — and the sons took over in the ’60s. David K. Summers Jr., in his 28th year on Calhoun County Council, wants the Briggs-Delaine-Pearson Connector. A crafty politician, he’s paying attention, and he expects more Lake Marion residents, particularly retirees. He cites access to hospitals — Orangeburg’s Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties on one side of Lake Marion, Sumter’s Tuomey Regional Medical Center on the other, and farther on, Columbia’s hospitals. He cites access to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter. He foresees increased golfing, hunting and fishing. You could call this Summers’ secondwind theory. From the 1950s on, little towns dried up as their residents moved to “magnet cities” and jobs. But, at this century’s start, retirees are returning. Those with good incomes are buying second homes and may prefer a lake to the crowded and costly beach. Florida “halfbacks,” escaping the high cost of living and hurricanes, are moving halfway back north, to Georgia and the Carolinas. “The lake area is getting ready to pop,”

‘Hunters, fishers, it’s not going to affect them one bit,’ David K. Summers Jr. says of a bridge. ‘The people raising sand, they’re commuting to Richland County, they’re the ones with jobs.’




S7 010107 USE BLACK


5 ‘All up in arms’



In May 2005, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn joined supporters of the Connector. They gathered to counter Gov. Mark Sanford’s kayak trip through Sparkleberry Swamp. While Sparkleberry is about three miles from the bridge site, the Family Fitness Challenge was intended to challenge Clyburn.

Who’s in charge? Maybe that explains what’s going on between Rep. Jim Clyburn and Gov. Mark Sanford, who opposes the bridge, as do some other powerful Republicans and conservative organizations.
In March 2003, Sanford challenged Clyburn and his proposed Connector by asking the U.S. Department of Transportation for a cost-benefit study. Also requesting the analysis were U.S. Reps. Lindsey Graham, Joe Wilson, Jim DeMint and Gresham Barrett, all Republicans. In May 2003, the proposed Connector made the Green Scissors report, an annual effort by three advocacy groups: Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The Connector was one of 10 road and highway projects singled out for a “huge price tag” and “devastating environmental cost.” In November 2003, NBC visited for a “Fleecing of America” segment. A reporter described Sparkleberry Swamp as “a sacred wetland” and said “accusations of out-and-out racism and pork-barrel politics over a road project have shattered the quiet calm.” In June 2004, the report “Road to Ruin: The 27 Most Wasteful Road Projects in America” was released by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Friends of the Earth. While not in the top 10, the proposed Connector did make the longer list of “billion-dollar white elephants.” In May 2005, Sanford paddled Sparkleberry Swamp with 100 supporters, using his Family Fitness Challenge to make a public point. He invited Clyburn and state highway commissioners, saying, “If we build this bridge, a pristine natural area of our state will be gone forever.” In February 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers entered the picture. The S.C. Department of Transportation filed a request to fill three acres of Rimini wetlands. The Corps has jurisdiction over wetlands dredging or filling or placement of structures over navigable waters. The Corps ordinarily receives a letter or two about a dock or parking lot during its public-comment period. This time, it was inundated. From Michael Reino, twice a Republican candidate for Clyburn’s seat, the Corps received a 751-signature petition opposing the Connector. Jenny

‘The whole opposition to this
project is one big falsehood. There is absolutely no threat to the environment with this project. None. There’s no disturbance. Not one inch will be disturbed.’

Sanford, wife of the governor, signed. The Corps continues to receive letters in opposition, 664 so far. In favor? The Corps has 74 letters and a 1,500-signature petition. Residents of counties around Lake Marion collected signatures in 2001 and 2002; Clyburn’s office assisted and provided the petition. In September 2006, the SELC sued DOT and the Federal Highway Administration in federal court, an effort to stop the Connector and change how the DOT assesses such projects. In November 2006, Sanford won a second term as governor. His campaign Web site listed opposition to the Connector among his first-term accomplishments. In February, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control denied a water-quality permit because information from DOT was incomplete. Construction can’t start without the permit. But Clyburn and his staff dismiss the denial as “just part of the process.” ■ ■ ■ In fact, Clyburn is not moved by any of the opposition. DOT had OK’d the project. Its final environmental-impact statement, issued in February 2003, gave the go-ahead. There’s a federal green light, too. In June 2003, the Federal Highway Administration ruled in favor of the Connector. When Sanford and four members of the congressional delegation asked Norman Mineta, then transportation secretary, for a cost-benefit analysis, Clyburn wrote, too, saying, “I am sure my Republican colleagues did not intend to single out my district and priorities for disparate treatment. But they have.” Mineta answered: “During review of highway projects under the national

Environmental Policy Act, a cost-benefit analysis is neither required nor generally conducted.” Clyburn calls Sanford’s behavior “condescending.” In his constituent newsletter, called Capitol Column, he reacted to the governor’s swamp tour: “From the safety of their kayaks, they won’t see the faces of the residents living on the shores of Lake Marion. ... I have visited their schools and their homes. I have attended their family reunions and fellowshipped in their churches. For their sake, I will continue my efforts ...” As to the Corps’ cache of letters, con outweighing pro, Clyburn shrugs off the imbalance: “Everybody gets all up in arms about people who write letters and send petitions. I talk to people who walk up to me in church. They will never write a letter.” Clyburn is convinced that the concept for the bridge is environmentally friendly. He says he asked for “a bridge that will not disturb any wetlands connected to the lake.” He also requested other design factors: a bridge fit not only for vehicles, but for runners and cyclists, “because I want to make this attractive to tourists.” And a bridge that connects the Palmetto Trail, a cross-state trail of many connecting passages, to the S.C. National Heritage Corridor, 240 miles of history, culture and nature, “so this is a real connector.” Because Clyburn has been acclaimed as the environmentalists’ ally — perhaps the only one in the state’s congressional delegation — their stance galls him to the point he questions motives. “The whole opposition to this project is one big falsehood,” he says. “There is absolutely no threat to the environment with this project. None. There’s no disturbance. Not one inch will be disturbed.” When it comes to the permit process

— the delays, the denial, the lawsuit — Clyburn simply says all this was expected; the process must play itself out. Each “no” slows an already slowerthan-usual process and may alter design, but won’t end his quest. The pork-barrel comments come with a serving of irony. After attention from Green Scissors and “Road to Ruin,” the Connector made an appearance in a 2005 issue brief from Citizens Against Government Waste. Private, nonpartisan and nonprofit, CAGW is known for its “Congressional Pig Book.” The annual publication lists “pork-barrel projects in the federal budget” that fit its criteria, which include “not requested by the president” and “serves only a local or special interest.” Over the past few years the “Pig Book” has cited, just to choose a few familiar items connected to Clyburn’s largesse: $1 million for the S.C. National Heritage Corridor, $5 million for USC’s Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, $1.5 million for North Main Street development in Columbia, $2 million for ETV. Turn attention to Lake Marion and the “Pig Book” cites $4 million for the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency. In January, a USC student asked Clyburn about controlling “pork-barrel spending” when Clyburn attended a campus luncheon tagged “Eat In Speak Out.” Clyburn turned ferocious while the student turned red. “Don’t fall for that junk; don’t fall for that junk,” he said, then named the war in Iraq and tax cuts as true budget-busting culprits. What Clyburn didn’t say — but is obvious to anyone familiar with this state — is that South Carolinians hunger for pork, with or without mustard sauce. It’s a state tradition: U.S. Sen. Olin Johnston (“Mr. Civil Service”) and his post offices, U.S. Rep. Mendel Rivers (“Rivers Delivers”) and his military bases, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (“Everything that was honorable to get, we got it”) and anything. But Clyburn believes his focus is different, compared to some of the past’s white politicians: He believes he is responsible to the have-nots. He believes he is involved in remediation. He says politicians of the past “steered infrastructure” away from black and poor and rural areas. “None of these people know why their community didn’t get developed. I would be less than human if I didn’t do something. “All of this is remedial stuff. “If I’m in a position to remediate and don’t, I’m not worthy of their vote. I’m not worthy of their respect. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.”




S8 010107


6 ‘A nickel in your pocket’

On the Bodricks’ 20 acres sit five houses for two sisters and three brothers and a trailer for a child. Down sandy Pelican Trail, Ezekiel Bodrick bought more land, so two more children can come home.


Ezekiel Bodrick’s Last Stop Convenience Store sits across the railroad tracks from a ghost town.
His bright red hand-lettered sign, his truck and neighbor Minnie Calhoun’s big old car and orange kittens are the only proof of life where S.C. 33 bends into what was Lone Star. Follow the curve, instead of crossing the tracks, and you pass the weathered wood of a railroad warehouse, the glass windows of a brick storefront, the warped tin roofs and rusting gas pumps of two more stores. All are empty; all are sliding into ruin. Once Lone Star, with its sawmills and cotton gins, was a busy place, a train stop for mail and cotton bales and passengers, a shopping stop for men and women in want of groceries, clothes, tools, horse collars, a slice from a hoop cheese wheel. Today, past cotton fields and the small trees and bushes of a nursery live Bodrick, his two sisters, two brothers, a daughter and a niece on 26 acres of family land. The older Bodricks left for better fortune, then returned for retirement. Of Bodrick’s seven surviving children, all but one live in New York. But more land has been purchased and cleared; two children soon will retire around a dirt road’s bend. The Bodricks love home, but for three generations they’ve left it, lost it, regained it. A grandfather, John Bodrick, a former slave turned farmer, hightailed it in the 1890s to Florida in a run for his life, a story Ezekiel Bodrick tells to explain the hardships of the past. John Bodrick and his crew were waiting in line at a Lone Star cotton gin when a white man pulled his wagon ahead of theirs. It was the custom: All whites were served before any blacks. John Bodrick objected, maybe even stated that objection with a whip. “He had to leave town,” says his grandson. “They told him if he didn’t leave town by tomorrow, they would kill him. “I didn’t see my grandfather until I was grown.” Bodrick’s father, Johnny Lucius Bodrick, owned land he farmed with hand and foot, mule and plow and wagon. Hit by a car while riding pell-mell to a neighbor’s fire, he lost a leg. Despite hard times, he managed to keep his land, 70 acres for cotton, corn, wheat. Ezekiel Bodrick, born in 1923, remembers working dawn to dusk and lantern light, water hauled from a well, travel by mule and train. The Santee River and Upper Santee Swamp were daunting barriers for those without time, means or transportation. People could catch the train at the Lone Star station and ride across the water for a penny per mile. A few bold boys walked

‘With my years, it won’t make a
difference ... For the youth it would do good. They wouldn’t have to leave, like I did.’
the railroad trestle. Most couldn’t afford a boat, says Bodrick. A trip by wagon was a slow ride to a small wooden bridge at Santee, where I-95 now crosses. A teen when the Santee Cooper project started in 1939, Bodrick got a kitchen job through the Works Progress Administration. The relief effort put the unemployed to work building public roads, airport runways, dams. “I stayed in the camp, Camp No. 45. We slept four to a cabin, upstairs and downstairs bunks. There was a little store in the center and a big shower room and a recreation hall where we played cards.” All the land-clearing was by hand, “big two-people saws,” and mule. “They would give away logs for nothing, all that cypress and red oak. Or they would burn it for days. “They were clearing up that swamp to bring light. Before that, there weren’t any lights in this area.” Next, Bodrick worked for the Atlantic Coast Line, riding the rails from Richmond, Va., to Savannah, Ga. He decided to leave the South; he says it was “kill or be killed” for blacks. And at home, folks earned just 50 cents a day working someone else’s land. Besides, country life was changing. Land once dotted with field hands’ and sharecroppers’ shacks was emptying. Machinery did the work. “They were tearing the houses down and wouldn’t sell the farmland. A black person would come for an acre of land, and they wouldn’t sell,” says Bodrick. “White folks were killing themselves trying to hold everybody else down.” Bodrick, known as “Butter” to friends

and relatives and “Zeke” to acquaintances, moved to Washington, then New York City, working in the warehouses of the Mayflower Hotel Co. He built his brick Lone Star house in 1992, the store a few years later. Bodrick never stopped missing home. Neither did his brothers and sisters. Now back, they still want something better. They think a bridge is a starting point. Brother William Bodrick says: “We did go away to get jobs, but we would like to stay here and live well. A bridge might put a nickel in your pocket.” Yes, ties to land are strong and memories long in South Carolina. “Sixty years ago they were talking about that bridge, and it was never built,” says Ezekiel Bodrick. “When we were clearing up that land, they said there would be a bridge.” And now, “I hear that sometime it’s hot, sometime it’s cold. I’ve been hearing that same music for years. I say, ‘I’m just going to forget about that bridge.’ But some people say, ‘Oh, no, it’s coming.’” Bodrick’s gruffness turns wistful. “With my years, it won’t make a difference,” he says, “But I’d like to see it for a year or two — and see progress. “If you had a highway through here, and people migrate from Sumter, it might bring business. When you bring in one thing, you bring in another. “For the youth, it would do good. They wouldn’t have to leave, like I did.”

Bodrick’s Last Stop Convenience Store opens at 6 p.m. and stays open to 11 p.m., ‘if the boys come to shoot pool.’ The coolers hold beer and eggs; the jukebox in the back plays ‘The Best of BB King.’




S9 010107


7 Black, white and green


Dorothy Pugh-Hodge and her brother Arthur run a general store near Sparkleberry Landing. Inside, Dot’s is sparsely stocked; so is her competition at the next landing. Customers are mostly sportsmen looking for snacks.

The clash is guaranteed: Poor, rural black communities vs. environmentalists.
After all, what’s left to preserve? The land that, once upon a time, those in power didn’t want: Remote rural areas, sandhills, tidal wetlands, swamps, sea islands. Who lives on this land? In South Carolina, mostly poor blacks. It’s almost a one-to-one match, poor blacks and rural areas, poor blacks and unspoiled areas. Race becomes an inevitable issue in Southern conservation. In North Carolina, an environmental group mapped the match: Persistently poor counties are also important natural areas, says Mikki Sager. She directs the Resourceful Communities Program for The Conservation Fund-North Carolina. After U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn proposed the bridge across upper Lake Marion, Sager visited at the environmentalists’ invitation. They hoped she could suggest some way to negotiate. As she could have predicted, the counties surrounding the lake and swamp — Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Sumter — possess bird preserves, good hunting and fishing and farming, and a greater minority population and greater poverty than the state average. Sager visited and declined the assignment. She remembers being torn about several things, particularly “the whole race issue.” Bernie Mazyck sums it up this way: “We kept it. We farmed it. We preserved it. You like it.” So tension arises, says Mazyck, president and chief executive of the S.C. Association of Community Development Corporations. “Environmentalists don’t trust the local community to know what’s best. Definitely, the local community doesn’t trust the environmentalists, who say, ‘You can’t use this land to support your community.’” Jennie Stephens offers a similar summation: “You’ve got yours, but you want to tell me I can’t have mine.” The executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in Charleston, Stephens calls the clash an issue of fairness and justice. Currently, more than a third of rural property owned by African-Americans is heirs’ property, scholars estimate. Heirs’ property is land held without clear title, often lived on communally by people who may trace ownership back to former slaves. Obviously, a lack of clear title to

Either way, it seems there’s danger:
Harm to the environment, harm to people’s dreams. So the environmental conversation remains a race conversation, and the race conversation remains undone.

land complicates everything. Says Stephens: “You hear what the environmentalists are saying about wanting to protect land, but what about people who for so long protected land not valued and now have the opportunity to reap the benefits of their property?” ■ ■ ■ Another clash is guaranteed: Poor, rural black communities vs. developers. Who can say that if Clyburn gets his wish — the proposed roads and bridge followed by ecotourism, golf courses, retirees — rural residents would profit? When Sager visited Lake Marion, she had another concern besides the clash between white environmentalists and black rural residents: If the bridge were built, she feared ensuing development would be gated communities. It seems a given that any development in the rural counties surrounding the lake would include — as neighboring Santee at I-95 already does — retirement and vacation homes behind gates. And that calls up Hilton Head. Hilton Head Island haunts any discussion of race and land and profit in South Carolina. While tourists see shops and big beach homes and golden sand, others see blacks’ land loss. In 1910, African-Americans’ land ownership peaked at 16 million to 19 million acres nationally. Today, ownership is down to 7.8 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A startling 98 percent of agricultural acreage is owned by whites. As the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation notes of land remaining in blacks’ hands: “In the Lowcountry, that land borders the marshes, wetlands and coast. Once considered ‘mosquitoinfested’ and undesirable, it is now prime real estate.” The good and the bad of this began in the sea islands, small islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s

Emancipation Proclamation freed more than 10,000 slaves on the S.C. coast and sea islands, according to “Forever Free” by Eric Foner, a Columbia University historian. Thanks to an 1865 field order by Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman reserving sea islands for freedpeople, 40,000 settled on the coast and islands, working 400,000 acres. After Lincoln’s death, President Andrew Johnson restored land to former plantation owners. Three freedmen on Edisto Island petitioned: “ ... We were promised Homesteads by the government.” But the freedpeople were evicted. About 2,000 former slaves kept “Sherman land.” Through tax-sale auctions and the S.C. Land Commission, another 16,000 black families obtained about 50,000 acres, historians say. That gain-and-loss story is the story of Hilton Head Island, then and now, a story Clyburn and others invoke. Headquarters for a Union blockade squadron, the island became a refuge for escaped slaves during the Civil War. In response, Mitchelville, named after Union Gen. Ormsby Mitchel, was established, becoming the nation’s first town for freedmen. At century’s end, an estimated 3,000 blacks, owning about 10,000 acres, lived on the island. In 1950, about 1,000 people, 90 percent of them black, still lived there. Then Charles Fraser bought 19,000 acres; a bridge, a golf course and a hotel followed. Sea Pines Plantation, a gated community, made Fraser’s name as a developer. Blacks’ land ownership dwindled. Today, the population of Hilton Head has dramatically increased, but the percentage of African-American residents has dramatically decreased: 34,000 people live on the island, 8 percent of them black. “Land gives you power. Land gives you choices to make,” says Mazyck. “Land loss in African-American

communities is one of the biggest crises in the South,” says Sager. Clyburn believes blacks’ land loss, and the history of Hilton Head in particular, argue for the bridge. He thinks of the bridge as a pre-emptive strike. In 2001, he wrote: “ ... Once the development came, so did the bridges. I am seeking to reverse that trend. Build the bridge first, so those who still live on their family’s land hold on to it and reap the benefits. ... ” He also calls the bridge symbolic, an offering up to the past as well as the present. ■ ■ ■ Will Lake Marion be a story of conservation or development, or a thoughtful merging of the two? And who benefits either way? Attorney Faith R. Rivers argues for efforts to “bridge the ‘black-green-white’ divide” that pits local leaders’ wish for a higher standard of living against environmentalists with an “anti-growth” stance. “The strategy of always saying no to infrastructure as a way to prevent growth has consequences for African-Americans, who need infrastructure for their health and to occupy their properties,” says Rivers, a professor at the University of Vermont. While executive director of the S.C. Bar Association from 1998-2005, Rivers established the Heirs Property Preservation Project. She continues to work on blacks’ land loss in South Carolina. “Denial of infrastructure isn’t the answer,” she says. Either way, it seems there’s danger: harm to the environment, harm to people’s dreams. So the environmental conversation remains a race conversation, and the race conversation remains undone. And what’s best remains elusive.




S10 010107


8 The water rises


‘I would have more sympathy for people who didn’t want the bridge if it weren’t such a black-white situation,’ says C.R. ‘Dick’ Banks of St. Matthews.

The very existence of the lakes and their dams is a story of the consequences, good and bad, of what we call ‘progress.’
Some dreams of progress take a long time, such as the dream of connecting Columbia and Charleston by water. Or the larger desire to bring prosperity to desolate and destitute stretches of South Carolina. In 1770, the Commons House of Assembly proposed a survey to build a canal for both purposes. The Revolutionary War and other distractions intervened. In 1786, a private company — with Gov. William Moultrie as president and Gen. Francis Marion as a director — was organized and chartered by the state. From 1793 to 1800, laborers hacked away with pick, ax and shovel, connecting the Santee River to the Cooper River and Charleston. For 50 years, the 22-mile-long canal served as a route for cotton-laden barges, unless there was a drought — and until the construction of a railway between Columbia and Charleston. But a route by water remained a fascination. In the next century, T.C. Williams revived the dream. In 1926, the owner of the Columbia Railway and Navigation Co. obtained a license from the Federal Power Commission for navigation locks and a hydroelectric project. But hard times were in the way. Cotton was no longer king. Exhausted and eroded soil, the boll weevil and cotton’s dwindling price led to desperation among farmers. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers were displaced; blacks and whites lost land to debt and taxes. South Carolina entered the Great Depression years before the 1929 stock market crash. By the 1930s, the unemployment rate in rural S.C. counties surpassed 30 percent. People died from hunger, Walter Edgar writes in the “History of Santee Cooper, 1934-1984.” The S.C. Emergency Relief Administration counted 403,000 on its rolls. South Carolina politicians — including Charleston Mayor Burnet R. Maybank, state senators Strom Thurmond and Richard M. Jefferies and U.S. Sen. James F. Byrnes — saw a chance for federal funds, jobs and electrification in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s promise of public works. Ninety-three percent of rural South Carolina lacked electricity. In 1934, state legislation established the S.C. Public Service Authority to construct and operate the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project and improve “health, welfare and material prosperity.” The lakes and the dams would do just that by providing electricity. In 1935, a guaranteed federal loan and grant promised a beginning. But court fights with private utility companies delayed the start of work until April 1939. Soon, blacks and whites, pulled from the relief rolls of every county in the state, were at work. The Works Progress

Cotton was no longer king.
Exhausted and eroded soil, the boll weevil and cotton’s dwindling price led to desperation among farmers. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers were displaced; blacks and whites lost land to debt and taxes. South Carolina entered the Great Depression years before the 1929 stock market crash.
Administration gave 9,672 South Carolinians jobs at the project’s peak, according to the 1944 “Picture Progress Story of the Santee Cooper.” In all, 12,500 workers were employed. The first task: mosquitoes. It could cost your life to live near the swamps. In 1931, 17,462 cases of malaria were recorded in South Carolina, 213 fatal. The infection and death rates from malaria were far worse in these low, wet rural counties. Eighty percent of the area’s schoolchildren had malaria. More than 10 percent of the state’s malaria deaths occurred in Orangeburg County. Malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, causes uncontrollable shivering, a high fever, then profuse sweating, headache, nausea, exhaustion — perhaps death. These three stages repeat again and again, making surviving malaria a lifelong, lifesapping struggle. “It was low and damp. The plantation owners had to leave in the spring. One told me it was death to go back before first frost,” remembers C.R. “Dick” Banks. Banks, born in 1920, sports a dapper mustache and an old-fashioned charm that evokes the British raj and swagger sticks. He lives in his family’s St. Matthews home, stacked wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with memorabilia, antiques, old photographs, old magazines, old books, old newspapers and cats. From June 1940 through December 1941, Banks was a WPA photographer, recording the land clearing as well as the plantation houses doomed by the project. Later, he served as St. Matthews’ clerk of court for 24 years. Before the Santee Cooper project could begin, automatic siphons, first tried in India and never before in the United States, drained stagnant pools. Sixteen motor boats sprayed insecticide along riverbanks; water was sprayed with oil to kill mosquito larvae. This was a place of swamps and forests pocked by small farms and fading plantations. Thanks to poverty, floods, uninhabitable land and malaria, the

counties were sparsely populated. But all residents in the lakes’ way had to go, removed by the power of eminent domain. For the project, 901 families, almost all black, were relocated. Their houses were moved or replaced, and they were given 100 chickens, says the “Picture Progress Story.” While 6,000 graves were moved, many were left to the waters. A 1939 architectural report cited 22 endangered plantation houses, mostly in Berkeley County, mostly demolished, a few moved before lake waters rose. Banks remembers an owner staying in a corner of an historic home as it was dismantled; he remembers another killing himself. Plantation owners “take issue with reports that the lakes of the Santee-Cooper project will affect only barren and worthless lands,” said a commentary of the time in the Charleston Post and Courier. The white landowners got more than chickens; they were paid $12.19 an acre, “much more than the land was worth then, but they were forced off their places,” says Edgar. In the corporate history, Edgar notes, “Ironically, the largest landowners were not local folk but absentee and business interests who owned vast timberlands.” For the project, 48 WPA camps were built. “They hired black and white, but they wouldn’t live in the same cabin,” Banks says. Bolted-together small cabins each slept four; larger kitchens and recreation and dining halls added to the feel of a temporary town. Workers cleared by hand 177,000 acres: 100,000 for what would be Lake Marion, 60,000 for what would be Lake Moultrie. Among the virgin hardwood cut were trees boasting a circumference of 13½ feet. World War II brought a sense of haste; the project was declared “necessary for national defense.” Electricity was needed in Charleston for the Navy Yard, so the basin that became Lake Marion was cleared in a rush, stumps left in the lake bed, timber chained to the stumps. For years, people could fish from logjams. On Feb. 17, 1942, Santee Cooper generated its first electricity. “It came in on schedule. It came in on budget. It was incredible for that time,” says Edgar.

The Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project achieved several firsts for its time:
■þLargest ■þLargest

land-clearing project in the nation’s history. public-works project in the nation.


single lift lock in the world — 75 feet — at the Pinopolis Dam. earthen dam in the world, the 8-mile-long Santee Dam. of malaria. By 1948, no county around the lakes reported malaria.



Totaquine, called ‘the poor man’s quinine,’ was used to treat malaria, which disabled and killed thousands in South Carolina.




S11 010107 5/20


9 ‘Where fishermen go to heaven’
‘This can never be replaced,
and once there’s a foot in the door, it’s over. ... Developers get roads in here and here it comes: 7-Elevens and Wal-Marts.’
Joseph Britton Pack would click-clack a handcart across the wooden railroad trestle on the Santee River. It was his job to follow trains, watching for sparks that might set the trestle afire.
He first came to Sumter County during the Great Depression, a truck farmer selling produce from Greeleyville. In 1946, he opened Pack’s Landing on the Rimini side of the trestle. In the ’70s, his son and namesake, Joseph Pack Jr., quit work as a coastal swing-bridge operator to come home and join the business. Today, Joseph Britton Pack III, known as Jody, and his brothers Stevie and Andy Pack run Pack’s Landing. Andy Pack lives in his grandfather’s house, behind the bait and tackle store. Every day in the spring, two or three times a week other seasons, they guide fishing trips. When their customers leave the store for the water, they walk under mounted striped bass, 37-pound monsters, one caught by Jody Pack, one by his grandfather. The brothers have worked as guides since their early teens. “My grandfather taught me; my father taught me; now I’m teaching my son,” says Jody Pack, 41, who knows the water and wetlands from Lake Moultrie into Lake Marion and up the Congaree and Wateree rivers. When he launches a boat from the landing, he’s entering Pack’s Flats and the Upper Santee Swamp. Two miles up he travels a creek past Sparkleberry Landing into Sparkleberry Swamp. There, Pack has watched osprey catch fish, watched deer and wild pig swim. He has caught glimpses of bobcats and bald eagles. He says Lower Flats, Upper Flats and the Santee River offer the best fishing. But it’s the silence his customers remark upon, after catch-of-the-day photos are done. A big, high-energy guy, Pack tenses when the subject of the bridge arises. “We know not one iota about the bridge because I can’t find one person to tell a straight story. I don’t know enough about any of it.” The bridge would begin on higher ground, up the road from the store, then loom beside the landing’s store and houses. “We’ve been told we’re here forever, and the bridge will be suspended and out of our way,” says Pack. A few miles down the road, in Clarendon County, Louis “Sam” Elliott says, “We’re 100 percent for the bridge.” Elliott’s father, Richard Furman Elliott, relinquished 300 acres to what became Santee Cooper in the 1930s. Sell willingly or not, your land was no longer yours, says Elliott, who adds his father got half what he originally paid for his acreage. The Elliott family farmed and ran several Rimini stores. R.F. Elliott’s Grocery still stands a mile from the landing, its tiered facade like broken teeth now. Inside, new wood bolsters its termite-eaten frame; bottles of totaquine, used to treat malaria, sit dusty on wooden shelves. In 1945, the family shut down its sawmill but put the new lake to use with the opening of Elliott’s Landing and Campground, selling bait and tackle and renting handmade cypress boats, 50 of them, for $2 per day. Rimini faded when the train no longer stopped, and in recent years, the landing business has faded, too. To make do, Elliott cut pulpwood and firewood on his 860 acres, added commercial fishing in winter. After Hurricane Hugo, when the lake was clogged by debris, daughter Alice Weathersbee worked for a deer processor. The family still runs the campground where once there was a cow pasture, and from March to July sells crawfish from 12 ponds. Alice Weathersbee is an officer in the S.C. Aquaculture Association. The still-stocked bait and tackle store adjoins the house, a behind-the-counter door open to the family table. Elliott, soft-voiced and slow-spoken, remembers surveys for a bridge in the 1950s; he’s still hoping. “It would raise property values; it would help the economy. I won’t say it would create tourism, but it would be a big advantage.” Like many locals, he believes the railroad trestle, first built in the 19th century, proves a bridge wouldn’t harm the environment. “When the wooden trestle burned and they built the new trestle, the water was clear again.” Besides, there have been two derailments, one famously littering diapers, and “none of that affected the lake.” Alice and husband Gary Weathersbee


Dan Daniels sells crickets, nine kinds of worms and frozen bait at Low Falls Landing. But he’s more interested in counting painted buntings, awaiting glimpses of bald eagles, anticipating hundreds of breeding turtles.
hunt with bow and arrow. They fish. And they want this life — plus the bridge, more business, higher property values — for their 3-year-old son. “My grandfather left this to my dad, and he loves it, and I love it. I tried to live by a Wal-Mart, and I couldn’t,” Alice Weathersbee says of a stint in Sumter. “There’s always room for improvement. If you build something, Mother Nature will take care of itself,” says Gary Weathersbee. “The only thing endangered here is money.” Not so, says Dan Daniels, on the opposite side of the lake, in Calhoun County. “I’m not for the bridge at all.” In December 2005, Daniels bought the bait and tackle shop at Low Falls Landing and moved into a trailer next door. “This is where the fishermen go to heaven,” says Daniels, 64, whose sly humor peppers every remark with heh-heh-hehs. He speaks over the constant chirp of doomed crickets and the susurration of water into holding tanks. On his counter and shelves sit classic sportsman fare: Vienna sausages, sardines, saltines, pigs feet, pickled eggs. Behind him, Marilyn Monroe stares from a poster. “We see foxes all the time. We see bald eagles sail over. We watched painted buntings and tanagers all summer. I’ve counted 10 osprey at one time in the air. I’ve seen more white ibis than I ever saw in Florida,” where the Columbia native worked as a manufacturer’s rep for refrigerators. Daniels laughs at himself; he’s something of a jokester, a taxidermist proud of “swamp monsters” he designed, yet reverent over a 40-pound beaver’s pelt. Recently he responded to a developer’s letter with “‘Don’t think of coming up here. This is a wildlife haven.’ Then I called him an inbred thug. “This can never be replaced, and once there’s a foot in the door, it’s over. We were in Fort Myers, Fla., in the ’70s when you could roam. Now it’s like New York City. “Developers get roads in and here it comes: 7-Elevens and Wal-Marts.”

In the 1940s and ’50s, the Elliotts rented 50 cypress boats, $2 a day, at Elliott’s Landing. Now, the landing includes a campground, while the family raises and sells crawfish. Every Saturday at noon, March through June, the Elliotts offer a crawfish boil. Clockwise, Louis ‘Sam’ Elliott; Alice Elliott Weathersbee and Gary Weathersbee and their son Tyler, 3




S12 010107


10 ‘Nothing else like it’


Eva Mae Frederick has been fishing the Upper Santee Swamp for 50 years, once walking on logjams to reach good fishing holes. She’s seen gargantuan catfish and ‘one large gator, too.’

Eva Mae Frederick sits on the dock beside the Low Falls boat ramp. She has her pole, her cooler, her folding chair, but no fish yet.
She’s counting on crappie, bream or catfish for dinner. “To tell the truth, I don’t catch much anymore,” she says. “People in boats give some to me. People come from far away to fish here, from Columbia.” Frederick, who lives in St. Matthews, has fished the Upper Santee Swamp since the 1950s. She worked on a farm, married, “cared for little babies for white women.” Now she has time to fish on weekdays. For her, as for many residents of the area, a bridge would make Sundays better. It’s the first observation rural black residents make. Frederick says, “I’ve got family go to my church; they’ve got to go all the way around. Way up there to 601. It would be a shorter cut.” She adds a qualification: “I want the bridge if it just don’t interfere with my fishing.” If the sun is out, someone’s fishing on the banks. On weekdays, shift workers and retirees cast and talk. On weekends, johnboats float in the shore’s shade; pontoon boats putter by.

‘When you’re in the middle of the swamp,
you’re as far away from the rest of South Carolina as you could be, away from the noise, the trash. There aren’t too many places you can go and get away like that.’
■ ■ ■ During hunting seasons, the guys in camouflage and orange park SUVs and head out for deer, dove, duck, squirrel, raccoon and opossum on the swamp’s higher, drier land. John Townsend Cooper, 28 and a thirdyear student at the Charleston School of Law, has fished and hunted duck with his father in Upper Santee and Sparkleberry swamps since childhood. “There’s nothing else like it,” he says. “When you’re in the middle of the swamp, you’re as far away from the rest of South Carolina as you could be, away from the noise, the trash. There aren’t too many places you can go and get away like that.” So he’s puzzled by the push for a bridge. He doesn’t understand spending millions “to save a few minutes’ driving time when there’s a natural area that’s irreplaceable.” Many sportsmen worry more about fewer fish and waterfowl than a bridge by a railroad trestle. Duck hunter Ricky Coward runs Shady Grove Kennel in Gilbert, where he also trains retrievers. Coward, 50, has hunted in the area since high school and remembers when the Santee Wildlife Refuge would winter 150,000 to 180,000 ducks, who flew upriver to feed on swamp acorns. He notes the Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector’s current $150-million price tag creates “a difference of opinion,” then adds wistfully that Rep. Jim Clyburn could best improve the area if he could bring back waterfowl. Louie Chavis, 58, has camped, hunted and fished in the Upper Santee as far back as he can remember. “I remember as a young chap, 10, 12, be nothing to go in the swamp and bag five or six squirrels.” A retired SCE&G lineman who lives in Lexington, Chavis is chief of the Beaver Creek Indians. He worries about tinkering with nature, whether it’s bridge building, stocking flathead catfish for sport fishing or adding grass carp to reduce hydrilla. “Mother Nature and the Creator built it themselves. What gives man the right to bring foreign species in?” he asks. As for a bridge, “Through my own eyes, I don’t see any possible benefit. We just got another dead lake.”

John Townsend Cooper, motoring past the railroad trestle, hunts duck in the fall and kayaks in the spring in Upper Santee and Sparkleberry swamps. ‘Any good two to three days in the swamp will renew your soul.’




S13 010107


11 Once, the trains stopped


Once you could buy a slice of hoop cheese, a horse collar or a dress on Lone Star Road. Now, tin roofs curl on empty buildings; a gas pump says 63 cents a gallon.

Where there’s water, people find a way to cross it.
A wooden railroad trestle crosses the Upper Santee Swamp and Santee River, connecting Lone Star and Rimini since the 1800s. Once, trains stopped in each town, to load timber and cotton and mail. Whenever the trestle burned, it was important enough to rebuild. Today, Lone Star and Rimini seem ghost towns, but four times each day CSX sends trains across that trestle, carrying coal, cement and other freight. Thirty miles or so downriver, people drove their mules and wagons across a rattling wooden bridge built around 1927. Later, travelers crossed the U.S. 15-301 bridge, completed in the mid-1940s. In 1987, that bridge became a fishing pier, and U.S. 301 became part of I-95, now the passage over Lake Marion. But, from the moment Lake Marion existed, there was talk of other bridges. The route between Sumter and Orangeburg could have been less circuitous. But in the ’30s, U.S. 301 was extended south to Summerton, then in the ’40s, south again along U.S. 15 to Santee and Orangeburg. So instead of a direct

Thirty miles or so downriver,
people drove their mules and wagons across a rattling wooden bridge built around 1927. ... From the moment Lake Marion existed, there was talk of other bridges.
route, there’s an arc. In 1949, above Lake Marion, wooden bridges were replaced with four causeways, elevated roads across waters or wetlands. The causeways cross Bates Old River and the Congaree River on U.S. 601. In the 1950s, Orangeburg Sen. L. Marion Gressette, busy with the Legislature’s Segregation Committee, squelched conversations about another bridge . In 1968, the S.C. Legislature created the Orangeburg-Calhoun-Sumter Toll Bridge Authority to construct and operate a toll bridge across Lake Marion, connecting Lone Star and Pinewood. This time, a route was determined, and a survey rightof-way was cut across the swamp, close to a fish camp called the Rimini Hilton. A 1969 Wilbur Smith and Associates study noted that crossings existed at Bates Ferry on the Congaree and at Santee, but “For some time, interested parties have felt a need for an additional crossing between these points or in the vicinity of

Lone Star and Rimini.” No bridge was built, though. The legislation also said the state would not operate the bridge unless it were free of debt. The report concluded the project had merit, but tolls would not raise enough revenue to cover the cost. In 1996, Fluor Daniel Consulting investigated the need for a regional alliance of five counties — Clarendon, Calhoun, Lee, Orangeburg and Sumter — to promote development. A bridge was needed at the northern end of Lake Marion, the study advised, calling this “the most important single project which would allow for greater access.” In 1997, during a meeting of the Lake Marion Regional Water Project, David Summers resurrected the idea yet again. The chairman of Calhoun County Council told Rep. Jim Clyburn the story of his father’s death en route from Sumter to Cameron. Clyburn, who grew up in Sumter, had heard the talk of another bridge and was intrigued. So the men got a map out and laid it on a table. “We laid a ruler down,” then drew a line across Lake Marion, connecting Lone Star and Rimini, recalls Summers. “I think I’ll work on that,” Clyburn responded.

Cameron Road, Lone Star Road, Dusty Lane, McCords Ferry Road: The traffic is light, just farm trucks, logging trucks and the occasional rusting car travel past cotton fields and pines.




S14 010107


12 The parable of the talents


Clyburn’s annual fish fry — fried fish on Wonder Bread doused with hot sauce and mustard — happened in a Gervais Street parking garage this past April, but lured political stars. From left, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Clyburn, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, John Edwards, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Barak Obama

Ten years ago, when Rep. Jim Clyburn told David Summers he would ‘work on’ a proposed bridge across Lake Marion, it was no idle comment.
A preacher’s son doesn’t just make promises; he makes vows. And a preacher’s son doesn’t depend on or talk about luck or fate. A preacher’s son relies on and talks about a calling. Clyburn explains, as a preacher’s son would, through his father and the Bible, Matthew 25:16. “My father used to preach a lot from the Parable of the Talents,” he says, referring to a story in which a master gives his servants money before leaving on a trip. One servant is given five talents, another servant two, another servant a single talent. The master, upon his return, praises the two who traded and doubled their money; he rebukes the servant who buried his talent rather than use it. “My dad always used that story to talk about the gifts people have,” says Clyburn. “I think I can be akin to the one with five talents. I believe whatever I have must be put to use or that which I have will be taken away.” Clyburn believes he was called to remediate, to even the scales, to right the wrongs — and in whatever time he has in Congress he will do just that. We all have stories we use to explain ourselves, but Clyburn wants to do so in the context of the times he grew up in, in the context of the South Carolina he wants to change. So he speaks in parables. He explains his immovable stance on the bridge through stories with morals. His second story speaks to obligation: In 1960, student sit-ins and protest marches swept the South. Clyburn, attending S.C. State in Orangeburg, was among nearly 400 students arrested during a civil-rights march. The students were jailed at what was called the Pink Palace. Clyburn was chosen to testify at the trial by the Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman, then president of the state NAACP, and Matthew Perry, then chief counsel for the state NAACP. In those days, white-owned newspapers printed the names of petitioners and protesters, who were then threatened, harassed and fired. When students protested, their parents suffered consequences. Newman told him, “‘Clyburn, it will have to be you. Your daddy’s a minister; he’s not preaching to white folks. Your mother’s a beautician; she’s not fixing white folks’ hair. You’re the only one insulated.’ Clyburn adds, “Matthew Perry referred to me as a star witness. But my parents had insulated me. It wasn’t about me. I didn’t do a thing but breathe. “I do things because I’m insulated. I say things because I’m insulated. I don’t feel vulnerable.” Clyburn’s third story unveils a family secret: His father, Enos Lloyd Clyburn, grew up in Blaney (renamed Elgin in the 1960s).

In 1992, a tribute was held
in the state Senate’s chambers to honor Clyburn’s election to Congress. In his remarks, Clyburn noted, ‘I’ll have the opportunity to continue a legacy, the one my great-great-uncle George Washington Murray of Sumter began 100 years ago.’

Enos Clyburn was a widower, a preacher Clyburn remembers West replying, “If I and a carpenter when he met Almeta were black with as much talent as you’ve Dizzley, 18 years his junior. She was a got, I’d be much more militant than you student at Camden’s Mather Academy, are. I can take you if you can take me.” founded in 1887 by the New England He feels a deep connection and a Southern Conference of the Women’s lasting gratitude to West, but there’s a side Home Missionary Society of the Methodist trip to this story, all about the bridge. Church. In 1971, Clyburn and wife, Emily The two married, and Enos Clyburn England Clyburn, were invited to the accepted a post in Sumter so the couple governor’s Christmas party, held at a could attend Morris College. Clyburn Berkeley County conference center called remembers his mother’s graduation in Wampee; the original Wampee Plantation 1953; he was 13. is under Lake Moultrie’s waters. Many years later, in 1978, a minister What could have been thrilling was asked Clyburn about his last name, saying instead upsetting. he remembered a smart Morris classmate Mattie England, Clyburn’s mother-innamed Clyburn who dropped out. law, burst into tears at the news. “I drove straight to Sumter and told my “She had never set foot at Wampee, daddy what I heard,” and the reason, she says Clyburn. finally told me, with Enos Clyburn tears streaming down revealed a family her face, was ‘My secret. Because great-grandmama’s Kershaw County didn’t grave is at the bottom offer high school for of that lake. They black students, he flooded that lake and attended the last grade didn’t give a damn available, seventh about our graves.’” grade, three times to Clyburn observes, get the most he could. “If you don’t Clyburn repeats understand the history, that: Three times. you wouldn’t know on Enos Clyburn got plantations the slaves’ into Morris by taking grave sites were at the an entrance exam. In water’s edge. Black his third year, he was people preferred to be asked to produce proof at the water’s edge so of high-school their souls could go graduation. back to Africa. He couldn’t. He left. “So that land had Clyburn loves to tell the story of His father planned meeting Emily England; she slaves’ graves, but then offered him half a burger after a it became useful. to take this to his civil-rights arrest. They married grave. But where he People who prefer to on June 24, 1961. felt shame, Clyburn ignore those things, found courage. “That’s that’s their prerogative. part of what drives me to this day.” I don’t, and I factor it into what I do.” His fifth story makes you wonder about His fourth story remarks on the echoes both fate and callings — and time. of white and black, still sounding. In 1992, a tribute was held in the state In 1970, on the night John C. West was Senate’s chambers to honor Clyburn’s elected governor, Clyburn went to bed election to Congress. In his remarks, thinking he had won himself a seat in the Clyburn noted, “I’ll have the opportunity S.C. House. He woke up the next morning to continue a legacy, the one my greatto find he had lost. great-uncle George Washington Murray of Two days later, West invited Clyburn to Sumter began 100 years ago.” join his staff; Clyburn would be the first While this connection is a family tale, minority adviser to an S.C. governor. “I rather than a documented branch of the said, ‘I don’t think I’d like to do that. I’m a family tree, Clyburn could find a greater little outspoken. I’m not sure I’ll be a good kinship than mere blood in Murray’s fit.’”

quests. A U.S. congressman from 1893-97, Murray was South Carolina’s only black and only Republican congressman at a time when the Democratic Party ran the state and excluded blacks. He also was the nation’s only black congressman, and thus the highestranking black public official in the U.S., according to “A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina’s George Washington Murray” by John F. Marszalek. Born a slave on a Sumter plantation, Murray became a farmer in his teens. In 1874, he passed a competitive exam to enter USC, but Reconstruction’s collapse ended access during his sophomore studies. In 1880, he owned 49 acres of tilled land, 15 acres of woodlands, four pigs, one ox, one horse, one mule and eight chickens. He served as Sumter’s delegate to the state Republican Party convention, and at a Sumter meeting of 2,000 blacks, his speech earned him a nickname: the “bold black eagle” of South Carolina. Murray spoke often of “race pride,” telling listeners they had to overcome not only physical but mental and spiritual slavery. However, he campaigned and served against a background of murders and mass lynchings. He tried much, including petitions, lawsuits and a “protection society,” to stop South Carolina’s disfranchisement of blacks. When his faith in politics faded, he tried economics: He bought then sold land to blacks; in the process, his tenants became landowners — and legally qualified voters. In 1904, Murray was charged with forging a duplicate lease. Marszalek’s book calls it “an example of legal whitecapping, a way to rid the community of a troublesome black.” Murray gained nothing by the document in question but was sentenced to three years hard labor. As he appealed, he was charged with perjury. He turned his holdings over to his attorney and escaped to Chicago. Sumter whites opposed extradition because he would “be looked upon in the light of a martyr.” Murray continued to speak and write — visiting 30 states in 10 years — advocating education and “race models” to develop black spiritual freedom. He died in 1926, forgotten and poor. Marszalek describes Murray as “clever, pragmatic, hard-working, untiring, dedicated, ambitious and demagogic.” However, the Mississippi State University professor adds, “He had the wrong skin, and he belonged to the wrong political party to succeed in South Carolina.” Murray was the state’s last black congressman — until Clyburn. In March, Clyburn took the stage in Charleston with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, a presidential aspirant; Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a longtime supporter; and retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings. These powerful people gathered to celebrate his ascension to House Whip. Like Murray, Clyburn is a black man trying to effect change in opposition to his state’s white majority party. He told the overflow crowd stories about past students; like Murray he was a teacher. And maybe he was channeling Murray when he said, “We must regain our sense of commitment. We must regain our sense of worth æ.æ.æ. to make a better life for all of us.”




S15 010107


13 Wetlands and wildlife


The Southern Environmental Law Center calls the Upper Santee Swamp ‘one of the state’s last intact bottomland hardwood swamps ... treasured by hunters, anglers and nature lovers.’

Bald eagles nest in the Santee Swamp.
The largest alligator ever recorded in South Carolina — 13 feet, 1 inch —

lived in Sparkleberry Swamp until it was killed by a poacher. The endangered shortnose sturgeon favors a lake near Elliott’s Landing. The Upper Santee Swamp is a vast wilderness mysterious to us, a delicate mixture of water and trees, wetlands and meadows, space and silence. For the songbirds and the wild pigs, the warblers and woodpeckers and yellowcrowned night herons, the 89 reptile and amphibian species, the wild turkeys and bobcats, this is home. And there is no substitute.




The Santee National Wildlife Refuge is one of Audubon South
Carolina’s 36 Important Bird Areas. Among its residents are the redheaded woodpecker, wood stork, red-eyed vireo, yellow-throated vireo, Acadian flycatcher, yellowthroated warbler, hooded warbler and promontory warbler. Many of these birds, particularly warblers, need large, unbroken blocks of deep forest.

The Santee National Wildlife
Refuge, 15,095 acres, was created on the Clarendon County side of Lake Marion in 1941.

Lake Marion is good for fishing,
Con g a r ee River

Manchester State Forest


Sparkleberry Landing



but not so good for boating, because hasty land clearing to create the lake basin — World War II pushed a need for electrification — meant stumps remain.

Wat ere e

Nearly 300 species of birds are found in the water, wetlands and
woods of Lake Marion.

Gov erno r Ri cha rds on


Currently, 100,000 to 300,000 fish travel upriver through the boat
lock on the Cooper River Dam and a fish lift at the St. Stephen Dam, added in 1985.

Upper Santee Swamp



Bald eagles nest in and around
both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie. The lakes also are home to an endangered fish, the shortnose sturgeon.

Pack’s Landing

Ro ad
15 26


Fish play a role in negotiations for
the first Santee Cooper license renewal in 50 years. Recently, Santee Cooper, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed on a draft settlement that would increase fish passage at the Wilson Dam, with a target of 14 million to 16 million fish per year.


The Santee Swamp is home to the
East’s largest colony of yellowcrowned night herons.


Lone Star

Low Falls Landing

Elliott’s S Landing

Ro ad


The last verified sightings of the
ivory-billed woodpecker, long feared extinct, were in the Santee Swamp in the 1930s.

Stump Hole Swamp


Palmetto Trail



301 15



Stump Hole Landing

the second largest watershed on the Atlantic Coast, with more than 125 fish species, including the first known population of landlocked striped bass.


The Santee-Cooper River Basin is

Billups Landing Jack’s Landing Poplar Creek Landing

Before the lakes and dams, the

R iv

er Ro

John C. Land Santee Landing National Wildlife Refuge


Arbuckle Landing
Santee State Park


and Street l e v el

Santee River’s average flow was about 15,000 cubic feet per second; now it’s 500. In the federal relicensing process under way, Santee Cooper proposed increasing flow to 1,200 cubic feet per second. That’s under negotiation, though; studies say the endangered shortnose sturgeon needs 5,000 to 8,000 cubic feet per second.

O ld



Old N


be r

Six Hig



Lake Marion Resort Marina


ke M

a ri

Goat Island




What is a swamp?
A wetland that includes land permanently or periodically under water, as well as dry land with shrubs and trees







S16 010107


14 ‘A bridge to nowhere’

‘My first hunt I killed a deer, and that began a long story,’ says Jane McPherson, who began hunting in her teens. ‘The first time I saw a deciduous swamp in full color I thought it was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever see, and it still is.’


They describe themselves as ‘little, ordinary homeowners trying to do good.’ But in 2001, Sandra Marks, Jan Pittard and Jane McPherson began morphing into something more: Activists.
They talked with anxious neighbors. They began a homeowners group, the Low Falls Homeowners Association, and started a petition opposing the bridge. And 1,977 signatures later, 80 percent from Rep. Jim Clyburn’s district, they’re still going strong. McPherson, 77, has had a long love affair with the Upper Santee Swamp. It has been part of her life since the 1940s, when she began hunting duck and deer with her father at Otter Flat, Indigo Flat and Riser’s Old River. She stocks her friends’ freezers with venison and wild pig, which she hunts and butchers herself. Once, in “a little putt-putt boat,” she traveled the water from Columbia to Charleston, catching a 25pound rockfish on the way. Her best Santee fish tale involves a 40pound catfish too big for her net. “I took out my pistol and shot her in the head, grabbed her up and put her in the boat.” McPherson stayed in “a weekend place” at Low Falls from 1976 to 1997, when she retired from medical sales, built a small red house with decks and a dock and said goodbye to Columbia. Marks, 62, has lived in the Low Falls neighborhood since a 1996 move from Charleston. Her husband is retired from AT&T. She works at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) in Blythewood, “57.9 miles one way.” Pittard, 66, has lived in Low Falls since 1988. However, she and her husband bought their property in 1975, after selling 25 acres on Lake Murray. Until the couple retired they ran Best Western hotels and the Red Fox Restaurant in Columbia. The trio rhapsodize about fox dens in the front yard, alligators in the backyard, snakes in the boats. Marks calls their neighborhood, a stretch of small houses and manufactured homes on lots backed by docks, boats and slow water, “two blocks from heaven.” But in 2001, they feared all would be lost. Marks heard of a DOT public meeting at Pine Grove Community Center in Lone Star to vet plans to build a bridge. After a story in the Orangeburg paper, a neighbor challenged her: “You aren’t going to let that bridge be built, are you?” Then there was the television show during

The women say little to no traffic means a bridge
would be useless and needless — and destructive. They dismiss the idea a bridge would bring jobs. ‘No. 1, we don’t want industry. No. 2, we don’t want a bridge to start with.’

‘This is a beautiful, pristine, wild area. We need to keep some places like this,’ says McPherson. ‘I oppose the bridge on ecological grounds, although I do also think it’s a great waste of money for no purpose.’
which Clyburn said he had 1,500 signatures in favor of a bridge, adding that those opposed were outsiders, not area residents. “I said, ‘Oh! I live here,’” recalls Marks. “None of us knew a good reason why it should be built. So we said, ‘Let’s start our own petition.’” Calls to local papers led to publicity that “set fire to people,” says McPherson. She notes that as residents and commuters, “We are the people it is supposed to benefit, and we’re the people who should be gleeful, but we don’t want it.” Says Pittard, “A bridge would be from woods to woods.” McPherson chimes in, the two singing out, “From nowhere to nowhere.” A popular refrain of opponents, the phrase riffs off a now-dead plan to build from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Gravina Island, population 50, “a bridge to nowhere.” The women say little to no traffic means a bridge would be useless and needless — and destructive. They dismiss the idea a bridge would bring jobs. “No. 1, we don’t want industry. No. 2, we don’t want a bridge to start with,” says Marks. “No. 3, we have deep concerns about a toxic spill from Safety Kleen,” which no longer operates but still contains hazardous waste. The women get particularly agitated about a Clyburn argument that white Charlestonians got a bridge from Charleston to Mount Pleasant, but Lone Star blacks can’t get a bridge to Rimini blacks. “He says it’s all about race. It makes me sick. He’s trying to make it a race issue,” says Marks. “We are not politicians. We are not racists, and we’re certainly not economically biased against anybody.” Says Pittard, “I cannot believe the way politics works.”




S17 010107


15 ‘Time to call a duck a duck’



The Works Progress Administration hired only the unemployed to clear land for lakes Marion and Moultrie. ‘Generally, blacks were in one camp, whites in another,’ says C.R. ‘Dick’ Banks, who photographed the camps for the WPA.

Unfinished business, by definition, gets in the way. What’s undone demands attention at inconvenient times, in embarrassing ways. Then we’re caught, unwilling, unprepared, and more harm is done.
Many who want a bridge or oppose a bridge remember segregation. The limitations or privileges, depending on race, of the Thirties, Forties, Fifties and Sixties is part of their past. While segregation is no longer the law, the custom of separation lingers in country churches, community gatherings, social clubs and bars, in living rooms. And when a fight like this comes up, so does the unfinished business. The environmentalists say Rep. Jim Clyburn started it, this race-tinged battle. Clyburn says an online forum,, started it, and a meeting with conservation groups sealed it. For Angela Viney — then with S.C. Wildlife, now with Upstate Forever — the conflict started with a 2001 radio show. She remembers hearing Clyburn charge on the show that racism lurked behind opposition to the bridge. She was stunned. “Race is not a consideration,” she says. Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney, says, “It caught folks by surprise. Race was not a part of the bridge issue at all. If anything, our record of conservation in South Carolina is a strong one, working with minority populations.” Holman notes that record includes assistance to black residents of Sandy Island, in the Waccamaw Neck, who didn’t want a bridge and road to the mainland and the ensuing logging and development. The residents were backed by the law center, the Coastal Conservation League and the S.C. Department of Transportation. In 1997, the island became a Public Trust Preserve, purchased with DOT and Nature Conservancy funds. “Our work is colorblind,” says Jane Lareau of the League. But there is an uncomfortable division of pro and con: Many black residents around Lake Marion support a bridge and want the development it might bring. Many white landowners and environmental activists oppose a bridge and the environmental changes it would bring. Jim Kelly, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Columbia, is among the more persistent and vocal bridge opponents. Over the years of the controversy, he has served as swamp guide to newspaper and television reporters and to the crew of the “Promises Made” documentary. “It’s a silly idea, spending a tremendous amount of money on something that’s not necessary,” says Kelly. He ticks off his objections: poor blacks without cars don’t need a bridge; why not provide other infrastructure, such as water and sewer; why not repair the decaying U.S. 601 bridges and causeways crossing the

Many black residents around Lake Marion
support a bridge and want the development it might bring. Many white landowners and environmental activists oppose a bridge and the environmental changes it would bring.
In 2003, the James E. Clyburn Pedestrian Overpass opened. The $4.2 million walkway crossing S.C. 277 reunited neighborhoods split by the fourlane commute to northeastern suburbs. The walkway also was a response, as most are, to pedestrian deaths: five between 1975 and 1989, including a fifthgrader. But it was attacked then, and now, as a boondoggle, a monument to ego, a “bridge that comes from no place and one that goes to nowhere.” Which should sound familiar. In one 2003 Capitol Column, Clyburn responded to attacks on the 277 overpass and the Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector this way: “I do not believe I was elected to perpetuate disparate treatment or to maintain substandard neighborhoods.” In another 2003 column on the Connector, he wrote, “It is time to call a duck a duck. Issues of race prevented this bridge from being realized for more than 50 years. Although the euphemisms are different today, the reality remains the same.” A meeting with environmental groups inadvertently iced his cake. He remembers an activist’s commentary this way: “‘I was at the lake, and I saw this black man sitting on the bank, fishing for his supper,’ and then she said, ‘I don’t want that ruined.’” The speaker — Viney — was sincere in her vow, which moved her. She expected Clyburn to be moved, too. Instead, he was infuriated, still is: “Well, I want that man to fish for recreation, not necessity. I don’t want him fishing for his supper.” Clyburn recalls, at that same meeting, offering to back down if studies showed “adverse impacts on the environment and threats to wildlife.” He says he added, “If, on the other hand, a study comes in and concludes there aren’t threats to wildlife and adverse impacts, I expect you to remove your opposition. “There was not one sound,” says Clyburn, “and I knew they knew they were not telling the truth.” Viney has a completely different memory of that meeting. She says, “You know what I remember? I remember how I left that meeting. I hugged him. “I thought, ‘This is a great man, a man I could stand behind, the type of leader I looked up to when I was an undergraduate.’”

For South Carolinians suffering from the Great Depression, clearing land for the WPA offered wages, food and a place to sleep.
Congaree River and flood plain. Kelly loves the Santee Swamp; over 50 years, he has come to fish or just hide out at least 300 times, he estimates. He has seen alligators, otters, deer, pileated woodpeckers (four in a tree once), white ibis, a merlin, red-shouldered hawks, plenty of barred owls, even eagles (there’s a nest below the railroad trestle). But the love competes with his ire: “These people, if they want to stay there, it’s not the government’s responsibility to make it possible. If you’re able-bodied, you’ve got to go where the jobs are, not have them brought to you.” He says Clyburn accused him, during a radio show call-in, of being a racist. In return, he accuses Clyburn of believing, “If you don’t want the bridge, you’re against poor black people.” Kelly’s rebuttal: “Let’s get those people trained and moved somewhere else. I don’t believe in making jobs to help people live in the swamp.” Clyburn’s dismay and, perhaps, intransigence, arose after attacks on him at a duck hunters’ online forum. Comments such as Kelly’s dug him in deeper. From 2001 to 2003, Clyburn’s staff monitored the forum. Among discussionboard comments on the proposed bridge, some adorned with an Afro-hairdo icon or expletives, were multiple attacks on Clyburn and “dark democrats,” including a wish “to give every last one of them one million dollars cash and a one way ticket back to the dark continent.” Frequent remarks about welfare recipients and bridge fishing include such doggerel as, “Wait’in for a welfare check sho would be fine / If I had a new fishing bridge to pass da time.” John Ball III, a real-estate developer, is one of the Web site’s owners. He lives on U.S. 601, where the Wateree and Congaree rivers form the Santee, and counts himself the third generation to hunt in the area. He says, “Any time anybody brings up race as a factor — and a lot of people accuse Rep. Clyburn of that — either way it’s wrong.” Of the message board’s racist chatter, he says, “We delete a good bit of that stuff. I won’t make excuses for it.” Ball says he finds neither harm nor benefit to a bridge, but “I don’t know if it’s the best use of tax money.” Robert Nance, a district director on Clyburn’s South Carolina staff, cites off skirmishes: duck hunters at a bridge meeting “in camouflage stuff with their duck calls to drown out Clyburn,” Web talk on the make and cost of cars parked at Clyburn’s Columbia office. He says, “Once it turned racial and nasty, it was a whole new ball game.” Actually, it was the same ol’ ball game.




S18 010107


16 ‘Worry about the people’

Minnie Calhoun returned to Lone Star in 1972, leaving behind a New Jersey teaching career. Her father helped build the railroad line in the 19th century; she lives where the train once stopped and remembers when Lone Star Road was ‘full of people’ who delivered cotton, picked up mail, and paid a dime to ride to Sumter.


That catchy and oh-so-political phrase ‘bridge to nowhere’ stuck with Susan Mackey Hogue and just wouldn’t go away. Something else stayed with her, too: the way news stories approached the subject, with no residents interviewed, only people prescribing from afar.
In 2000, Hogue moved back to Columbia from Eau Claire, Wis. She teaches photography, book art and digital media for Media Arts at USC. In 2003, still haunted, she began her first documentary film, her students responsible for video, sound and producing. In Lone Star, the crew met Minnie Calhoun, “Miss Missy” in the documentary and, along with the swamp itself, its star. Calhoun — and her three-eggs-a-day chickens, her cats and her sewing machine — lives next door to the Last Stop Convenience Store, across the railroad tracks from what once was Lone Star’s downtown. “When I was a child, the train used to run though here,” says Calhoun, 82, elegant in a camel-and-red batik turban and tunic. “On Saturday evening, people would come in. All the stores were working. There was a big platform to sell cotton, a sawmill a ways down.” Calhoun left Lone Star for college and work. For 11 years, she taught home economics in New Jersey’s public schools. In 1972, after returning home to care for her dying father, she acceded to her mother’s wish and came back to stay. She built a tiny house, a collapsing wire fence protecting her chickens, a defunct freezer holding the chicken feed, and she began sewing for people, churches and businesses. “I’ve seen busy, and I’ve seen quiet, and now I see dead,” she says. She talks of a bridge with yearning. But her whole life, there’s been talk of a bridge. “If we had a bridge, Lone Star wouldn’t have gone down like it did. People left; people had to go to work where the work was. “If a bridge and road came through, it would change Lone Star around completely because there would be more people, more stores opening up. Somebody would open a clothes store, maybe factories. It would be altogether different.” The idea that preserving the swamp could be more important than that causes Calhoun pain. She says, “Don’t worry

‘If a bridge and road came through,
it would change Lone Star around completely because there would be more people, more stores opening up. Somebody would open a clothes store, maybe factories. It would be altogether different.’
anger at the way things still work. “All these white folks had blacks who worked in their homes and helped them raise their children,” he says. “People like us helped them get what they got. My uncle walked miles all day and into the night working the fields, and they benefited from our labor and low wages. “We were economically trapped. We had to go away to get jobs, but we’d like to stay here and live well. “Do you want economic growth or not? If you say you’re for the bridge, that’s what you’re saying. If you say you’re against the bridge, you’re saying, ‘I don’t need economic growth because I got mine.’” Hampton is clear about what should be next: retirement communities, hotels and restaurants, like in nearby Santee. “The environmentalists misunderstand us completely. Nobody wants to mess up the environment. We want the same things they want, just a better quality of life. “I think birds are important, too, but people are more important. God put man to be the smartest beast and take care of everything else.” In 2005, Hogue and her students began showing early edits of the video documentary. “Promises Made” has since been invited to film festivals in nine different states; it has been shown on Southern Lens on ETV and at Nickelodeon’s International AfricanAmerican Film Festival. She is struck by the regional difference in audience response, which she explains through Calhoun: “Miss Missy is college educated. She came back from New Jersey and took care of her family. That’s no small feat. “She keeps hanging on to the promise things will get better. She thinks a bridge will bring more people, more business. “In South Carolina, people say, ‘That’s too much money for the bridge,’ and they don’t talk about Miss Missy.” Elsewhere, “Audiences are more willing to look for and suggest compromises, such as ecotourism. They want to protect the environment but are very much aware of people who have a lot of needs in small rural towns without jobs.”

Social worker LeRoy Hampton says, ‘We’re planning on a bridge to take us somewhere besides Lone Star and Rimini — to a better quality of life. You put $150 million any place and something will happen.’

about that; worry about the people.” Hogue’s documentary, “Promises Made,” found its name on the second interview, which was Calhoun’s. “I didn’t want to compile a bunch of facts,” says Hogue. “I really wanted to represent a piece of history. “So many residents believe they were promised something they never got. I always thought the promise was the most important thing.” She quotes LeRoy Hampton in the documentary: Promises made and promises lost. Hampton seems the unofficial ambassador for the Calhoun/Orangeburg side of Lake Marion and unofficial spokesman for change. “I was born in a little house on Shirer land,” he says, referring to the Lone Star farming family that includes J.D. Shirer. “You worked for a guy, and he had a house for you.” Hampton’s uncle and the relatives who raised him worked on the Shirer farm. Hampton’s maternal grandmother

worked for 40 years for the Zeaglers, another farming family, caring for children and cooking. “The rest of us mostly picked cotton. We pulled weeds up in the summer. We were the Roundup,” he jokes, then adds seriously, “We were the economic backbone of Lone Star. But when black folks became more mobile, we started going other places.” Hampton, 51 now, was first in his family to attend college. He credits Upward Bound, a federal program for lowincome students whose families lack college experience. “That program saved me, and they taught me about responsibility to your community.” After making it through Orangeburg’s Claflin University with assistance from welfare, Hampton was hired in 1977 by his caseworker with the S.C. Department of Social Services. He works in Bamberg. A cheery, mild-mannered man, Hampton nurses a limp — earned by building a Habitat for Humanity home — and a muted




S20 010107


17 Engaging hearts and minds
Armed by moral certitude, sure this particular battle is the key battle, sure the future is at stake: Such convictions have the makings of a Hundred Years’ War.
There is another way, four steps that require an engagement of hearts and minds. First, acknowledge geographic limits exist no matter what, whether the desire is to save a swamp or build a bridge. Seventy percent of the land Santee Cooper owns is undeveloped — and most must stay that way. Some is swamp and can’t be built upon. Some is forest and under forest management. Some is devoted to wildlife refuges. Besides, Santee Cooper is a public utility licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license includes restrictions on land use, how much is residential or commercial. The license includes obligations to provide public use but also to protect wildlife and natural areas. “We constantly have to weigh the consequences of economic development,” says David L. Evans, who manages Santee Cooper property. “That’s difficult to do, to have ‘smart growth.’ You have these competing interests. Under any heading are dozens of subplots.” Second, acknowledge that these subplots, with all their many characters, could be collected into one big question: What would a South Carolina that cherishes all — water, trees, sturgeon, woodpeckers, farmers, boaters, investors, commuters — look like? So far, the story has been one of particular wants and needs, a cacophony of competing interests, rather than a collective dream. The Shirers want family farming. The Bodricks want local jobs. The budget-conscious want a balance between cost and benefit. The hunters and fishers want more ducks, more fish. The environmentalists want natural havens. Jim Clyburn wants water and roads, retirees and golf courses, nature and ecotourism, and he wants this to benefit those left out before. He wants a healthier, wealthier congressional district — with a new bridge. Third, acknowledge that, as always, the unfinished conversation about race stands in the way. Debby Warren tries to find a middle ground, working with rural communities with a history of racism and poverty. As executive director of the Southern Rural Development Initiative, she believes protecting the environment and developing a sustainable economy are compatible. After all, she notes, sometimes we forget the obvious, the constant interaction between environment and humankind. What’s good for one can be good for the other. Early on, her Raleigh-based organization commented on the bridge


‘I believe South Carolina can still be a shining example and can lead the way once again — not just out of the Union.’
if not outcome. She says neither African-Americans nor environmentalists pay enough attention to their common interest in preservation or to practical responses, such as conservation easements that reduce property tax liability. Which brings us to the fourth, and final step: Acknowledge the need to negotiate a common dream. Mikki Sager, of The Conservation Fund, thinks this could happen, this sharing of interests and concerns: “I believe, finally, everybody involved in this has the smarts and commitment to come up with good solutions,” she says. “People just need to listen to each other — and hear each other. Too often, when we say ‘middle ground,’ it makes people think about compromise. “It’s really about balance.” And Clyburn replies that’s where he already is, standing on the middle ground: “To me, this bridge is part of a middle ground.” The Lake Marion area isn’t too remote, too sparsely populated for a bridge or other economic development efforts, Clyburn says. Consider all the sea islands with bridges, he notes, then chuckles. “That’s just part of the game, and I don’t play that game.” He adds, “It would make a whole lot of sense to plan this in such a way it preserves all our interests, protects people who are land poor, addresses economic needs, recreational activity, preserves history and accentuates heritage.” He quotes Socrates’ admonition that an unexamined life is not worth living, then says, “I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I am completely at ease with myself. “I am completely at ease with the decision I have made and the methods I’m pursuing to get this done.”

‘People just need to listen
to each other — and hear each other. Too often, when we say ‘middle ground,’ it makes people think about compromise. It’s really about balance.’
clash this way: “The history of development in the South suggests that bridges and roads alone will not preserve and enhance black-owned land.” It also criticized environmentalists’ inexperience, even “unwillingness,” in dealing with issues of poverty and race, explaining this “makes them suspect in the eyes of African-Americans.” Warren’s organization puts its research — a database on federal funds, education on public policy — to work in poor, rural areas, including Allendale and Marlboro counties. But Wilbur Cave, executive director of Allendale County ALIVE, says: “In South Carolina, we can’t have any conversation without race as a factor. It bars our ability to see other issues, like environmental concerns.” So the environmental conversation is a race conversation. The development conversation is a race conversation. And the race conversation, in which the past taints the present, is so uncomfortable it defeats “progress.” Cave predicts the Briggs-DeLainePearson Connector will be built. What’s unresolved, he says, is an older question about race and fairness: “The question to me is not whether this area or that area is going to be developed. It’s going to be developed, so the question is who will do it and who will benefit.” Answering that in a manner that satisfies most, not just a special few, likely requires mediation, says Warren. And that shouldn’t take place in Congress or the State House. Economic development must be “initiated and controlled by the people that live in the community,” she says, and history tells us this is not the usual state of affairs. Warren describes two key steps: Obtain accurate information, so the community knows what it really will get. “What is the real deal?” she asks. Next, determine what the community wants and what that costs. “Given the assets of our community, what kinds of ventures and projects could we develop?” Faith Rivers, the attorney specializing in heirs’ property, says environmental groups could benefit by more diversity in staff and membership. Then, perhaps, conversations would have a different tone,

Preservation. Development. Fairness. Justice. Progress. We have so far to travel.