Pearl Fryer's Topiary Garden
Don't miss Pearl Fryar's nationally known Topiary Gardens. This enchanting creation has nothing to do with cotton, but you really must see it! Fryar and his carefully sculpted topiary gardens have been featured on both local and national television shows as well as in several international publications. He is a self-taught topiary artist and has shared his skill and artistry with audiences on four continents. Although you can walk through the garden alone, Mr. Fryar is a wonderful guide with interesting insights and stories to complement his garden. Email the SC Cotton Trail to arrange a guided tour.
St. John AME Church
This is the oldest African-American church in Bishopville. The church, which also housed a school for black children in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was founded in 1870. The church gave birth to another church in Bishopville, Bethel AME Church on Munnerlyn Street.
No two buildings of Bishopville's downtown shopping district exhibit the same geometric design, color or material. Even the cast iron and stamped tin building fronts exemplify the artistry of the common laborer of the community. Most of the buildings on the two main blocks of the business district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Opera House
The Opera House was built in the 1890's as a temporary courthouse in hopes that Lee County would be established. Renovated in 1993 by the Lee County Arts Council, it is now home to displays of local art and a gallery honoring Lee County artisans.
The James House
The James House, built in 1902, is the home of the Lee County Historical Society.
South Carolina Cotton Museum
(Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, small admission fee).
The South Carolina Cotton Museum and the adjoining Cotton Park preserve the history of cotton culture in South Carolina and the legacy of a way of life both long gone and very much a part of the present. Whether you plant it, picked it, or just wear cotton clothing, the history of when cotton was King and the lean sharecropping years will unfold before you in this museum. Original farm equipment and interactive displays in an authentic setting allow the visitor to experience a way of life that is disappearing. Among the exhibits is a life-size replica of a farmhouse that includes original furniture and artifacts that were probably taken from what were known as "shotgun houses." These houses were built for and by tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the late 1800's until the mid-1900's. This major interpretive center also has more information on all Cotton Trail sites and local points of interest. Unique cotton items and travel books are available at the museum's gift shop. Special education programs are available for school groups. Docent guided tours are available for the tour bus groups.
In the Ashland Community, approximately six miles from Bishopville, is located a working cotton gin. If you visit during October and November, you will probably see the gin in action.
Just Outside Bishopville...
Lynches River is one of the longest scenic rivers in South Carolina, with a scenic segment about 54 miles long. Boaters can take canoes, kayaks or boats and follow the canoe trail that starts at the landing at US 15 and flows to Lynches River County Park in Florence. There's also an artesian well near the river, off US 15, where you can stop for a deliciously cold, refreshing drink. Back during the Civil War, Union troops tried crossing the Lynches River but were forced to turn back when the mess wagon overturned in the river. The troops headed back into the Hartsville area, where they occupied the Jacob Kelley House for two days.
The historic marker notes the site of the Cash-Shannon Duel. Fought in 1880, it was the last fatal duel in South Carolina and resulted in a state constitutional prohibition against dueling.
Lee State Park
(Year-round, daylight hours)
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers built the Park during the great Depression. Its 2,800 acres offer river, swamp, and sandhills to explore with picnicking, hiking, camping, and horse trails.