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BAMBERG-DENMARK 50 THINGS/DAY 43: Lumber mill spurred development of Bamberg County town now long gone

BAMBERG-DENMARK 50 THINGS/DAY 43: Lumber mill spurred development of Bamberg County town now long gone

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Several miles from what is now U.S. Highway 78 was the former town of Embree on the Edisto River that sprang up around a large lumber mill.

Embree in the 1800s was one of the busiest spots in what would become Bamberg County, according to the book "The History of Bamberg County, South Carolina."

The thriving mill was located on the curve of the river where it was crossed by Southern Railroad.

The first known occupant of Embree was a Mr. Walker, who operated a shingle mill there. The town was also home to a popular picnic ground known as "The Quarters."

Walker sold his shingle mill to a northern firm which changed the name of the business to Embree Lumber Company and established a sawmill and planing mill. The lumber -- as much as 4 million feet of cypress and pine -- was loaded in car boxes and shipped by rail on the company's spur tracks. The lumber sold for about $20 to $22 per meter.

Timber was purchased from area landowners for approximately 50 cents an acre, with the prices increasing in later years. Timber on land near the river was shipped via barges and timber farther from the river was transported by train.

Embree Lumber Mill maintained its own school and interdenominational church for its 100 employees.

A resident of the town recalled when the area was flooded by the river, requiring an evacuation.

The town of Embree was also a flag stop for the train. Some residents would catch the train early in the morning to go to Branchville to shop and return by train that evening.

As the community grew, electric lights and a commissary were added.

The Embree Lumber Company sold its holdings, and the business gradually declined in the 1920s, with the equipment eventually being sold. The village steadily declined. Today, there are few signs that Embree ever existed.

The site remained relatively forgotten, except by a few fisherman, until camping and vacation home sites were offered for sale in the 1970s.

Source: "The History of Bamberg County, South Carolina" (compiled by the late Margaret Spann Lawrence and edited by Betty Jane Miller, in conjunction with Historic Society of Bamberg County President Nancy Ray Foster).

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