Just east of the Broad River in rural Fairfield County loom six large stone cylinders – abandoned cisterns from the former Shivar Springs Bottling Company. The business began in the early twentieth century after Nathaniel Shivar, a shoe salesman from Columbia, came to the present-day Blair area – also known as both Shelton and Clayton – to recuperate from an illness. During his stay, he consumed water from a nearby mineral spring owned by a widow named Newbill, with whom he was boarding. Shivar became convinced of the water’s healing properties and also became smitten with Newbill. The two eventually married.
By 1907 Shivar was selling bottled mineral water from the spring as well as ginger ale and had built a brick plant to accommodate his growing business. Two years later, the South Carolina House of Representatives recognized Shivar “for the excellent quality of water furnished during the session of 1909.” In 1915 the bottling plant burned, and Shivar quickly rebuilt it, this time with wood.
Though Shivar witnessed the initial prosperity of his bottling company, a local newspaper gave notice of the business’s bankruptcy sale three months prior to Shivar’s death in 1922. Following Shivar’s death, the business’s assistant manager, William McDowell, successfully operated the company through various subsequent ownerships. McDowell finally purchased the business in 1941, as well as the Grapette Bottling Company in Greenville.
New flavors were added to the beverage product line by 1955, including grape, lemon, and root beer. A fire in 1957 destroyed part of the plant, which was not rebuilt, effectively ending the Shivar Bottling Company.
The Shivar Springs Bottling Company Cisterns are listed in the National Register:
The Shivar Springs Bottling Cisterns are a group of six cylindrical, stuccoed stone cisterns with concrete domes, constructed ca. 1900. The Shivar Springs Bottling Company was in operation from ca. 1900 to ca. 1950. At first the company produced only mineral water which was sold for medicinal purposes. Later both mineral water and soft drinks were produced from the spring water and shipped throughout the state. The six cisterns are the most visible, intact evidence of the Shivar Springs Bottling Company, which employed about thirty-five people in 1914.
Thanks for writing this great article. I am currently restoring the spring formally known as Shivar Springs and I will post pictures soon!
Kathy Gardener says
Thank you, Fred, for your comments and we’d really love to see your pictures!
Jaron Young says
I am from Shelton. My dad and brother still stay right by the Shiver Plant. It’s the old house that sits on the hill. He can tell you a lot about the Shiver Plant and some good stories of all the things Shelton once had.
Julian Shull, Jr. says
I don’t normally use my “Jr”, but my dad was “Sr” and grew up in Shelton during the depression, and as my brother Andy told you[ [see comment below], our grandfather, James, worked at Shiver. He passed away the year before the final fire in 1957.
Several years later, on one of those post-Thanksgiving squirrel hunting trips, my dad, brother and I came across the Shiver Spring house where my father discovered an old crank telephone on the wall, which dad promptly took down and stole! I think it was the only thing he stole in his life! His attitude was, “If I don’t take it someone else will”. He was probably right. In addition, it had a connection to our family’s history. That phone is currently hanging on my living room wall and I cherish it dearly (I think we are beyond the statute of limitations on this, and my father passed in 1970).
However, it appears with the work I see from the photos that some repair/restoration is going on. If you are making a museum or have a museum to preserve this part of SC history, I’d be willing to donate this phone back to such an establishment provided it in some way represents the history of Shiver Springs and/or the bottling company, and it is protected and accessible to the public for viewing.
SC Picture Project says
Dear Andy and Julian, just wanted to take a moment to tell you both how grateful we are for your comments. They are wonderful and priceless. Thank you for taking the time to help document these memories for South Carolinians for generations to come. We appreciate it more than you know!
Andy Shull says
The past spoke to me in an antique mall today. My grandfather, whom I never really knew, was the foreman of Shivar Spring mineral water bottling plant in old Shelton, SC. It was a railroad stop, one company town, on the Broad River in Fairfield County, SC.
In about 1956, as a toddler, I rode the train there from Columbia with my family on what I believe was its last stop. Soon after the town dried up and disappeared. When I was a child, tradition had it that I would revisit this now ghost town with my dad the day after Thanksgiving and walk the railroad track to cut a cedar Christmas tree and hunt squirrels. The only remnants in the early 60s were a couple of houses on the hill and a very old country store by the tracks that featured Vienna sausages, pork and beans, sardines, and crackers. It also contained hoop cheese, and many old glass containers with a variety of candy, all to be had for mere pennies. A pot bellied stove, and a few old men rounded out the establishment.
On returning to Shelton in my twenties, I found the old store was reduced to only a footprint. I did not buy the bottle, have to think on it.
Janie Dickey Richardson says
My dad grew up in Shelton, and our family grew up in Blair.