During my several months of illness, readers have probably been subjected to enough detail about the medical personnel, family and friends who have helped me get through it. So my stay at McLeod Regional Medical Center and Encompass Health across the street worked out well. But that’s enough of that.
How many of you remember when West Evans Street dead-ended at North Cashua Drive just across from the old Circle Drive-In Theater? In fact, at my first recollection, pavement on West Evans ended at the city limits, and it was unpaved to North Cashua. The city then was a circle with a mile radius, the center being at the southwest corner of Front (now Baroody) and Dargan Streets, so that the western city limits ran across Maple Park and then crossed West Evans and West Palmetto streets a block away. West Palmetto was paved, because it was a leg of the Florence-to-Columbia highway.
It was a WPA job in the late 1930s when West Evans, then called the Evans Street Extension, was paved like a farm-to-market job from the city to Five Points, making the turn onto Cashua to reach The Points. That was about the time that West Palmetto was paved and given a sidewalk from the city to Five Points. West Palmetto then was a little like a glorious boulevard to me, but now it is a narrow four-lane street that can be a difficult drive.
As for Evans at Cashua? Evans ran into solid woods right where the main Post Office now stands. There was no such thing as an Evans-Hoffmeyer Road intersection until the 1960s or 1970s at same time that Evans was extended from Cashua to Palmetto just west of what became Florence Mall. And Cashua was unpaved from Evans to the Darlington Highway.
At its intersection with Palmetto, Evans ran into an extension of Second Loop Road, which was a big job, too. Second Loop was a few miles of unpaved road from Coles Cross Roads to where it dead-ended at Cashua. It could be boggy. About the time of the major building on Evans, Second Loop got a major rebuilding from Coles Cross Roads through Cashua, across Jeffries Creek to its new intersection with Palmetto and Evans, one of the busiest stretches of road in town now.
(By the way, some people are confused because Florence has Second and Third Loop roads but no First Loop. Way back, Cherokee was often known as the Loop, so it was first loop.)
One idea that was proposed in the 1950s but not carried out was to run a bypass of U.S. 301 from about the airport to Third Loop Road. It was halted by a political outcry in the 1950s – before Interstate 95 appeared and attracted most of the tourist traffic. Some years later, a 301 Bypass was built with little dissent, probably because most tourist business had left the city by then.
A couple of the most dramatic changes came in the downtown. In one, U.S 76 and 301 traffic came into town on Cheves Street, which increased downtown traffic and increased noise and traffic by McLeod hospital. Palmetto was rebuilt as a highway street and extended to the east, where it met the old entrance onto Cheves and picked up the highway traffic. Also, shortly after World War II, the Palmetto Street underpass was built to help highway traffic get through town. Then there is the Evans and Dargan intersection in the middle of downtown. The crazy turn Evans once made there is eliminated and there is an ordinary street crossing.
A shortcoming in planning came when they rebuilt Darlington Street into a fine five-lane road, but they halted the work where that street crosses Cashua. It should have been extended to Hoffmeyer Road. Maybe I feel that way because I use that road a lot.
It’s good they are widening Bentrée Lane between Palmetto and David McLeod Boulevard, and we can see why they did not foresee its future traffic at the time that Bentree was built. Another good job underway is where Ebenezer and Pisgah roads meet Sumter Street in a confusing intersection. Whatever they do there is bound to be an improvement over the present confusion.
And South Cashua? Trust me. It will be finished sometime.
Thom Anderson is a former editor of the Morning News.