South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Blizzard Branch — Middendorf, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Chesterfield County  |  Blizzard Branch

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Blizzard Branch

Blizzard Branch lies on the border of the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in Chesterfield County. The engine on display next to the sign is indicative of owner John Catoe’s passion for collecting and rebuilding old engines. “Old iron collectors are some of the best people you will ever meet,” he says on his website, where he has generously posted many pictures of his old farm machinery.

Blizzard Branch Milling & Syrup Company

—  Blizzard Branch Milling & Syrup Company  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The grits mill and cane press are housed inside this barn, which provides a sort of gathering place for visitors and those hoping to purchase some freshly ground, South Carolina grits. Beyond the barn the field of sugar cane is visible. Had this picture been taken just two weeks earlier, corn stalks could also be seen in the background.

Blizzard Branch Barn

 — Blizzard Branch Barn  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

From left to right: Andy, Randy, John, and Jerry after a full day of grits-making. The farm prides itself on being family-owned and operated – John and Randy are brothers, and Andy is John’s son.

Blizzard Branch Group

—  The Gang at Blizzard Branch  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A rebuilt tractor engine runs Blizzard Branch’s grist mill. The sign’s instruction is not for the faint of heart; in an effort to ensure they would not miss any visitors, the Catoes wired an air horn to the rope and installed it on the roof of the barn.

Blizzard Branch Engine

—  Blizzard Branch Engine  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Blizzard Branch uses a mill made in the 1930s which owner John Catoe obtained from Wilkesboro, North Carolina. On the left, Jerry scoops cornmeal, while Randy readies the next batch of kernels for grinding.

Hopper and Grinding Stones

—  Hopper and Grinding Stones  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Dried kernels are poured into the hopper, then funneled into the grinder. Two granite grinding stones are located in the box shown here under the hopper.

Hopper and Grinding Stones

—  Hopper and Grinding Stones  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A close-up shows yellow corn seconds away from becoming our state food!

Hopper Closeup

—  Hopper Closeup  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ground corn is transferred to a machine with different sized filters which separate cornmeal, coarsely ground grits, and finely ground grits from the chaff. The chaff is then discarded or used as feed for farm animals.

Sifting the Cornmeal Out

—  Sifting the Cornmeal Out  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Blizzard Branch grits retain the healthy germ, and they are unbleached. The grits in John’s right hand are not as coarse as those in his left. Some people prefer one consistency over the other, but Blizzard Branch combines the two consistencies.

Fine and Coarse Grits

—  Fine and Coarse Grits  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Grits are placed in 50-pound sacks, then weighed on this particularly beautiful old scale. They are then ready to be sold to various retailers around the state, who will package them in their own bags for grocer’s shelves.

Weighing the Grits

—  Weighing the Grits  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Grits are also packaged and sold directly from Blizzard Branch. In the character of Blizzard Branch, the back of the packages read, “Made by people who want you to enjoy some good old fashioned farm products that may have fallen by the wayside.”

Packaged Grits

—  Packaged Grits & Cornmeal  —
SCIWAY, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Blizzard Branch Info

Address: 285 C and S Lane, Hartsville, SC
GPS Coordinates: 34.511869,-80.168567

Blizzard Branch Map

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10 Comments about Blizzard Branch

Fankie Hall says:
May 21st, 2017 at 1:07 pm

That is the best grits you can buy. I miss the open house they use to have each year.

SCIWAY says:
March 9th, 2015 at 8:21 am

Hi, Marilyn! Check with the website above the map for more information on Blizzard Branch products. Good luck!

Marilyn says:
March 7th, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Are any of your products sold anywhere close to Greenwood,SC?

SCIWAY says:
December 30th, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Hi, Lee. Check with the website above the map. Good luck!

Lee Aaron says:
December 30th, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Do you have any sugar cane stalks for sale this time of year?

Townsend says:
December 12th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I’m wondering if it’s old fashioned, non-GMO corn?

Robert says:
September 1st, 2013 at 8:53 am

Would you please tell me how to cook the grist mill grits?

SCIWAY says:
October 27th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Hi Anna!

SCIWAY is a website about South Carolina, and we were just lucky enough to be able to visit the Blizzard Branch Mill and wrote this article about our visit. We’re not sure what type of corn Blizzard Branch is currently using, but the best place to find this information is here:

Thanks and good luck!

Anna Roney says:
October 27th, 2010 at 11:17 am

Is the corn you use for cornmeal the old fashioned field corn, or the hybrid corn?

Ronnie Newman says:
September 20th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

These grits are the best in the USA….


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