Day 3: Rocky Mount, NC to Florence, SC

Another glorious day: perfect weather & tons of photos. I was really careful in my planning & research for this trip so that I shouldn’t have too many surprises (stuff demolished) or disappointments (stuff not quite photo-worthy). The dogs got their exercise in abandoned lots and scuzzy state parks today — which was quite good enough. They have really settled in for the long haul and there’s peace in the valley most of the time.

I was skirting Route 95 most of the day so I was taking the adjacent Route 301 whenever possible. One of my Flickr contacts was commenting that there’s nothing but “squalor” and advised that 301 wasn’t worth the time. I dunno. Even though there’s not a lot of well-preserved stuff, I’d much rather look at abandoned buildings than boring interstate – or worse: modern box stores and fast food chains. Now THAT’s depressing! Even in funky or fallen apart condition, these old buildings have much more character and if you squint hard enough, you can sort of picture what used-ta-be.

I didn’t shoot any old motels but here’s another abandoned gas station on 301 in Wilson, NC:


And a sign on 301 in Kenly, NC:


In Smithfield, NC, I stumbled upon this building which was apparently a gas station at one time (still remains of the islands).  But the size of the building makes me wonder if it wasn’t a big tire place as well.  The layout of the windows reminds me a bit of the boomerang Phillips 66 bays.  But the most interesting part of the building is the concrete block screening which was most likely added later.  The place seems to be abandoned now.  The sparrows and finches think the concrete design is awesome for nesting.



Also in Smithfield, was this fun plastic sign for the Glam-O-Rama Coin Laundry:


Horne’s in Fayetteville, NC was originally a drug store, now a deli/cafe.  The facade’s vitrolite (structural glass) and sign are original.


In Goldsboro, NC, there was this tax-season reminder (Liberty Tax in the strip mall just behind her – actually him).  This guy had a rather lame performance (parade-like wave) in comparison to Mr. Pickles.


This fun neon car was at Sun Auto Sales in Sharpsburg, NC.  From the patchwork on the metal, it appears that the neon was repaired a number of times over the years.  Maybe there were even spinning neon tires at one point.


White’s Tires in Wilson, NC has a wonderfully literal sign (as well as a Muffler Man):


There must be a catchy name for these faded yet wonderful signs.  I could barely make out the vertical text of “Furniture” on this one but there was something underneath of that.   This sign was in Hamlet, NC.


One of my personal traditions, when passing through South of the Border on I-95, is to stop at the Shell station and pick up a six-pack of Blenheim’s Hot Ginger Ale.  I’ve gotten it at a gourmet shop in Charlotte, NC and I know you can order it on-line.  The “Hot” has a spicy kick but you can get regular or Diet if that’s your thing.  If it was mass-produced and available in at gas stations across America, I’d probably never drink it.  It hadn’t occurred to me before that I could to food styling from Sparkle’s roof.  In the background blur is S.O.B.’s fireworks sign on the left and the Sombrero Restaurant sign on the right.


16 thoughts on “Day 3: Rocky Mount, NC to Florence, SC

  1. It’s too late now, but there’s a small modern brick office in Sunbury NC on rt 32, Kellogg Morgan Insurance Agency. Noticed it in ’04, still listed in Google.

    Thanks for the great pics here & on Flickr. Have fun.

    • Kevin: Yep, I blew through NC pretty much in a day. I’ll have to check around at Flickr and the satellite maps when I get home to see this building I missed. Do you have a link to a photo? I’ll be back in NC for a more thorough job sometime soon. Still lots of stuff on my list. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Thanks for the Flickr link.

        I took some very low res pics back in ’04. None are any better than the linked pic (which I favorited), but if any have more sense of the bldg/are wider shots, I’ll post somewhere & let you know.

        Thanks again for the great pics–you & your buddies have fun and stay cool.

    • Rick: Yeah, ghost signs is probably it. But I always think of the painted wall advertisements when I hear that word. Can we come up with something more specific like “RFN sign” (rusting faded neon sign)?

  2. Blenheim!!! The only ginger ale that can make you cry, and then keep sippin’. Love it! And I’m with ya – I hate driving on 95. Luckily, when Mom and I go to see my sister, we can skip a lot of it.

  3. I’ll have to send a couple “ghost” shots from Wichita. Even tho you can’t read them, the shapes are fun. Travel safe my friend.

    • I usually don’t include “ghost signs” (neon or otherwise) at my website — but the blog gives me a forum to do that. I always enjoy looking at anything you want to send me.

    • Thanks — I’ve been nudged to do more food shots so I’ll see what else I can come up with. I had hoped to get the “Golf of Mexico” sign on the left of the bottles but I wasn’t quite parked in the right spot and had to move on to shoot stuff in Dillon.

  4. ” A one of a kind shell-shaped 1930 Shell gas station at Sprague and Peachtree Streets in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been restored by Preservation North Carolina, an architectural preservation group.

    This is the last remaining of eight shell-shaped gas stations from the 1930’s in Winston-Salem, built when the Quality Oil Company began operations in North Carolina. It is not only the station itself, but also an advertisement for Shell–an example of a trend in architecture during that period. Note that “SHELL” is no longer written across the shell-shaped tops of the gas pumps. ”

    You should spend some time here.. Old Salem Coffee Pot and so many things that just don’t come to mind at present. Check with some locals.. Google won’t have all the neat stuff!

    Really enjoying your blog / photostream !

    .. taken from Historic Shell Stations WInston-Salem NC

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