Saturday, April 5, 2014

Summerville's Sister To The West--Aiken, South Carolina--Thoroughbred Horses And Beautiful Parkways

I have been a passionate disciple of the Lowcountry since my pilgrimage from Ohio to South Carolina nine years ago. During those years, I have traveled up and down the coastline from the Outer Banks to Amelia Island immersing myself in some of the oldest colonial history in the Americas and some of the prettiest estuarial bionomics on the east coast--I am hopelessly enchanted with the soft sand and salty waters of the barrier islands.

As a result, I have sparingly ventured into the interior of South Carolina. Only on one occasion, while traveling State Route 78 on my way to Atlanta via Augusta, do I vaguely recall the town of Aiken--having only passed through it briefly, until January of this year.

It was a brisk morning in Aiken. I hesitate to use the word cold to describe a South Carolina winter day, but it was chilly enough to freeze the ink in my pen, which made it difficult to jot down points of interest I would use for later reference. My scribblings began the day resembling Morse code--more dashes than dots, but improved as the day progressed due to the warming southern sun.

Up until this day, my knowledge of Aiken was based partly on information gleaned from articles I had read about the Southern Railway System originating in Charleston and partly from conversations with a friend who had been there--conversations that further heightened my longing to finally see the South Carolina town known for thoroughbred horses and beautiful broadways.

In fact, I was standing in the grassy middle of the horse districts thoroughbred racing track that nippy January morning by way of an invitation from Azalea Magazine to join them on this one day trip and write about it for the upcoming Spring issue. The resulting experience far exceeded my expectations. You can read the complete article on page 84 of the 2014 March issue entitled Roadtrip: "Where The Horse Reigns Supreme."

The article is accompanied by a beautifully arranged photo-spread taken from photographs by photographer Dottie Rizzo. For later viewing, to assist in jogging my memory of the days sights, I also took many photographs, which is the main reason for this article. I would like to share with you some of the photos taken from the day's collection showing the many fascinating and amusing points of interest that would have taken a thousand more words to describe--reminding me of the old adage, "a picture paints a thousand words."

Horse district thoroughbreds--the Darcy Stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai

Gravestone of Blue Peter--a champion thoroughbred and sire of War Admiral

A fiery thoroughbred at the Legacy Stables

The story about an exercise rider nicknamed Pockets at the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame and Museum

A buggy washer used by the Iselins of Hopelands Gardens located in the ceiling of the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame

Hopelands Gardens--the original foundation of the main home turned into an elevated brick courtyard with fountains

Main lobby of the Willcox Inn decorated with curly pine paneling
Old phone booth in the Willcox Inn

MacKenzie "Mack" Miller's chair in the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. He trained four champions.

Painted horse statue in the center of the downtown district; the painted horse statues are located throughout Aiken

Painted horse statue in front of the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame
11th Annual Aiken Horsepower Association's Spring Fling Show & Shine
Saturday, April 12, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
2441 Whiskey Road, Aiken, SC

Run United 2014
Apr 26, 8:00am-10:00am
Downtown Aiken
Aiken, SC

Aiken Strawberry Festival
May 10, 2014
Mead Hall School - Aiken, SC

Aiken Jazz Festival
Jun 20, 2014
Perry Park - Aiken, SC

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