Historical mystery and crimes tour in West Columbia, Friday

J.R. Fennell, Lexington County Museum Director photos.

Looking for something fun to do, to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day weekend?

The Murders and Mysteries West Columbia Walking Tour is at 8 p.m. Friday until 9:30 p.m. It begins at the West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater, 121 Alexander Rd. The tour is hosted by the Lexington County Museum.

“Every community has its own unique history,” said J.R. Fennell, Lexington County Museum Director. He leads the tour.

“There are six or seven stories that I tell about the history of West Columbia,” said Fennell. He said his tour incorporates some of the spookier and sometimes tragic aspects of West Columbia’s history.

As a part of the event, Fennell discusses some of the high-profile crimes, including murders and mysteries that occurred along Meeting and State Streets.

One of the alleged crimes included in the tour is related to the fire that destroyed almost all of Brookland, West Columbia’s former name, over 100 years ago.

On March 3, 1905, the blaze engulfed more than 70 homes and buildings. They were burned to the ground and the fire left death, injury, and poverty in its wake. The only home that was saved was the Finnegan house at 412 Spring Street. The next ten years were spent rebuilding the homes on Meeting and State Streets. Many of those structures still stand. 

“There was a man who ran a butcher shop on State Street,” said Fennell. “He ran a diesel engine that provided the town with electricity. He was arrested for arson,” because it was said the fire that leveled the town, started from his shop.

Another story involves a long-ago shooting at a store on State Street in which the shooter used black-eyed peas as his ammunition, instead of buck shot.

In addition to those incidents, Fennell said he discusses a disappearance on the Gervais Street Bridge and other macabre happenings.

He said the tours are very well attended, attracting 150 people or more. One of the offshoots involves participants – coming up to Fennell afterward- relating their stories, handed down by family members or witnessed.

Friday’s tour will end on Center Street. Some uphill walking is necessary. Because of the mature subject matter, organizers ask that those attending be older than 18 or have parental permission.

No reservations or tickets are needed. Parking is provided by the City of West Columbia in the Capitol Square Parking Lot (483 Sunset Boulevard.)

Complimentary valet parking is also available at the corner of Center and State Streets. Visit West Columbia Parking Options for more information on parking. For more information on the tour, call the museum at 803-359-8369 or email to museum@lex-co.com.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Cayce, Lexington, Lexington County, West Columbia