Wednesday, August 24, 2016

History Preserved and History Abandoned

On my recent trip to the south, I spent a couple of days in both Augusta and Columbia, which gave me a chance to do a bit of sightseeing. There were two attractions that stood out for opposite reasons: the first was a history museum that was surprisingly detailed and had some incredible artifacts; the second was an abandoned ballpark that shows what happens when a place is simply forgotten.

Augusta Museum of History

Located a block from the east end of the Riverwalk in downtown Augusta, this museum lowers its admission price from $4 to $1 during the month of August. It is worth paying that just to escape from the heat and humidity as the museum is fully air conditioned, but once inside, you will find that the exhibits will keep you here for a couple of hours. The first floor is a chronological history of Augusta and its environs, while the second floor has some special exhibits, including a couple of rooms on the history of golf, with special attention paid to the nearby Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.

A few pictures to illustrate what you can expect here:

Georgia was a confederate state and the Civil War is covered in detail.

A streetcar, one of many large-scale artifacts on display.

A small tribute to baseball in Augusta, including a GreenJackets jersey from the newest incarnation.

James Brown grew up here and there is a large exhibit dedicated to him. The poster above is from a show in Croatia in May, 2006; Brown died on Christmas Day that year, truly the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business."

Capital City Stadium

The Columbia Fireflies may be the newest team in the minors, but the city has a rich history of minor league baseball. From 1983-2004, the Mets South Atlantic League affiliate (known as the Columbia Mets between 1983-92 before becoming the Capital City Bombers) played out of Capital City Stadium. This ballpark was originally constructed in 1927 and rebuilt in 1991. A year after the Bombers moved to Greenville in 2005, a collegiate wood bat league team, the Columbia Blowfish, moved in, using the stadium until 2014, when they moved again, this time to Lexington, just 20 miles west of Columbia. In the two years since, the stadium seems to have been ignored and is now considered abandoned. However, you can still stop by and the outfield gate is open, so you can get inside and walk around. It is kind of depressing.

The scoreboard still has the Blowfish name on it and a mural is signed by the 2010 interns.

Weeds are sprouting up down the lines.

The seating bowl is still clean, though the seats themselves seem a bit weather-beaten.

A garbage can sits in the batter's box. How fitting.

This was my first experience seeing an abandoned ballpark, and it was certainly interesting and worth a look if you are in Columbia. If you want to see what the park looked like when it was in use, click here.

Brewery Tour

Columbia is home to three microbreweries, all located within a couple of miles of each other. River Rat, Swamp Cabbage, and Conquest all offer tasting rooms. Conquest's IPA was available at Spirit Communications Park, so my friend Meg and I went to the other two. River Rat has food, so we started there, and then moved over to Swamp Cabbage, which is a much smaller operation.

One of the interesting things we found in the games corner there was an old pinball machine shaped like a baseball diamond. The object is to get the balls into the holes at the top, with each hole labeled as single, double, triple, homer, or out. It was fun for a couple of minutes, but not recommended with precious beer glasses nearby as the game moves a bit as you play it.



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