I love abandoned places! I will sit for hours watching urban explorer videos of forgotten mansions, creepy hospitals, and decaying theaters. Would I like to do all that myself? Yes, but I’m also one of those people who thinks of every little thing that can go wrong, and I’m also super allergic to mold. That said, I did find out about a ghost town located not too far from where I live, and I had to see it for myself.
Ebenezer was a settlement established by the Salzburgers a year after Savannah was colonized. The Salzburgers were Protestants living in what we now call Austria. They left because Europe was doing that thing where certain countries alternated between if it was cooler to be a Catholic or a Protestant. Suddenly, it wasn’t trendy to be a Protestant in Austria, so some of them packed up and headed to Georgia after an invite from King George II of Britain. (Not the King George from Hamilton. That’s King George the Third.) Those poor Salzburgers were not prepared.
There are actually two Ebenezers. The first was along Ebenezer Creek. Noble Jones (remember him from my Wormsloe post?) did his best to help the Salzburgers make it livable, but the creek was almost impassable and prone to flooding and the land wasn’t good for farming either. After two years and a bunch of deaths, the remaining Salzburgers moved to New Ebenezer on the Savannah River near modern-day Rincon. This was where I was headed. With my trusty Google Maps app, bug spray, and my fearless companions, Vash and Hemingway, we set off!
The drive out there was pleasant. Hemingway hung his head out the window for most of it. The scenery was mostly farmland and churches. The early days of religious settlers are still evident in the yards of the homes we passed. Many of them had crosses. I grew up in the Bible Belt, and I’ve never seen so many crosses in yards before. One yard even had a giant banner that read “Christ is the Answer”, which is funny because I thought the answer was 42. (If you get that joke, you get it.)
At the very end of Ebenezer Road, we found what remains of New Ebenezer. The Jerusalem Lutheran Church is the first building I spotted. The church was built in the mid 1700s and is actually still in use today.
The other buildings include a museum, which wasn’t open that day; the Salzburger House and Kitchen, that had a bunch of cool antiques inside; and the old parsonage. I wasn’t able to go inside any of the buildings, but I did take a few pictures through the windows.
Hemingway tried to go inside every building, and then as we headed over to the outdoor amphitheater, he made a dash for the river. Hemingway is my foster dog, and I don’t know a whole lot about his life before Renegade Paws Rescue, but I guess he has fond memories of a river because he really wanted to go for a swim. Fortunately, I was still holding his leash and was able to keep him from jumping into the fast current.
The amphitheater was simplistic but peaceful. The sounds of the running river and singing birds were soothing. I could easily imagine coming out here by myself to write.
After poking around for a while, Vash and Hemingway decided they wanted to be back in the car with the AC, and I certainly didn’t blame them. It was hot! If you decide to visit, I recommend going earlier in the day or during a cooler time of year. Also, wear closed-toed shoes. I ended up with burs stuck to one of my shoes.
I still wanted to find the site of Old Ebenezer. It’s on private property, but it is supposed to be marked, so I thought I could possibly see something from the road. On our way to track it down, I passed by Jerusalem Church Cemetery. You know I had to stop and check it out.
I saw an open gate from where I parked, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there. The road I assumed would take me to that gate was marked as private property, but I was able to take a few photos through the fence. They all ended up with weird glitches. Ghosts or just a foggy lens? That’s up to you to decide. I already plan to go back and explore the cemetery properly at a later date.
My attempt to find Old Ebenezer was also unsuccessful. My cell phone reception was spotty, which prevented me from searching for better directions. Next time I head out there, I’m going to attempt to contact the property owner to see if they’ll allow me to actually explore the original settlement. Until then, I leave you with this final picture of Vash checking out the statue of Ebenezer’s first pastor.