Croft State Park

After taking one hike in Croft State Park, and, as I headed for another, I knew that no way would I get to all I wanted to see. It’ll take me more than one day for this place. With over seven thousand acres, Croft S.P. is one of South Carolina’s Parks.

On this trip, I parked by the lake and walked nearly around it, wandering part way on the Palmetto Trail which goes through. The stretch through here is a tad over twelve miles. I don’t think I walked, but one mile of it. I did walk the entire Nature Trail, but that’s only one and a half mile, an easy, but enjoyable hike.

There are about twenty miles of hiking and biking trails in Croft State Park as well as over twenty miles of equestrian trails. Plus one can go boating and fishing in one of its two lakes. There’s also a campground.

This park, located in the foothills near Spartenburg, was once a U.S. Training base. The park opened in 1949 and was once known as Croft State Natural Area. It is popular with equestrians because of its facilities. But even if you don’t have a horse, you can enjoy all the trails that weave through the hilly terrain.

That’s what I’m most interested in. The trails. The Palmetto trail boasts the State Park Systems longest expansion bridge at sixty-five feet. It also passes several old homesteads as well as plenty of nature. The Foster Mill Trail goes along the shores of Lake Craig as well as Kelsey Creek and along ridges. The three point four mile Rocky Ridge/Whitestone Springs sounds interesting. It winds through hardwood forests and passes the historic Whitestone Springs where a bottling business once bustled. I can’t wait to go back.

How to Get There:

One can get here from either I85 or I26. The Park is located off Dairy Ridge Road. Follow the signs.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/croft

What’s Close By:

Sparenburg

Pacolet Heritage Preserve

Pacolet

Greenville

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Robert Mills In Columbia

To continue from my last post on Robert Mills, there are several structures in Columbia that were designed by Robert Mills. These include a hospital, a memorial, and one of the few residences he ever created. Ironically, it was never used as a home.

Located at 1616 Blanding Street, the now named Robert Mills House was built in 1823 for Ainsley Hall and his wife, Sarah. Before Hall could move in, he died and his widow sold the Classical Revival townhouse to the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina who started a school, a seminary, in 1831.

The house was saved from demolition in 1961 by a group that would later become Historic Columbia. Six years later, after much restoration, it reopened as a house museum. One can walk around the grounds and gardens for free. There is a fee to tour the house. See the website for times.

Not far away, on Bull Street is the State Asylum. This famous landmark opened in 1828 and was one of the first public hospitals in the U.S. for those suffering with mental illness. It’s design was a marked departure from the earlier insane asylums. Instead of dank cells, dorm room were positioned southward to get sufficient light. It even had a heating system and protected fire stairs.

These two buildings are located in the Robert Mills District. Further south, on the USC campus, on the Horseshoe on, is the Maxcy Monument. Built 1827 it’s Mill’s first use of the obelisk style, the same style as the Washington Monument.

I couldn’t find much documentation on Robert Mill’s association with the Columbia canal, but I did find a notation that he was instrumental in it’s development. It was complete in 1824, when he was working for the state.

Historic Columbia Foundation has two self-guided walking tours of the area: Robert Mills District East and Robert Mills District West.

http://www.historiccolumbia.org/robert-mills-house-and-gardens

 

Robert Mills

Traveling around South Carolina, sooner or later you’ll come across a building designed by Charleston born architect Robert Mills. Born August 12, 1781, he’s been called the first U.S. professionally trained architect. His most famous work is the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Other well known buildings are the Treasury Building and the Old Patent Office, which is now part of the Smithsonian.

After attending what’s now the College of Charleston, Mills moved to Charleston where he not only studied with the architect who designed the White House, James Hoban, but befriended then President Thomas Jefferson who granted him access to his library of architectural books.

In 1816, Mills moved to Baltimore, but when he found himself with too few projects, he accepted the State Architect and Engineer position in South Carolina in 1820. Thus you can travel the state and find his courthouses, jails, bridges, canals, and other public works.

In 1830, he moved back to Washington, DC and that is where he worked on the public buildings and Washington Monument.

There are numerous works around the state and I have chosen those I’ve visited to highlight.

Perhaps one of my favorites is the Fairfield County Courthouse in Winnsboro. Built in 1823, it’s across from the town clock. You can’t miss it with the sweeping black staircases. Those were added later. I believe they were part of Mill’s design however. Additional funding needed to be appropriated before they could be built.

Landsford Canal is another favorite. It’s a two mile long canal with locks along the Catawba River in the Landsford Canal State Park. A trail goes along and through it. It’s one well worth the hike.

Georgetown County Courthouse was a bit difficult to take a good picture of with all the necessities of modern living, like telephone and electrical wires dangling in front. This was built in 1828 in temple form using a variety of styles such as Greek Revival with Roman Doric columns and a Renaissance style foundation.

Mills designed the Union County Courthouse and Jail, but only the jail remains, now the police station. A pity about the courthouse. Built in 1823 with walls of granite blocks, it survived the Union soldiers who marched through, but didn’t survive the wrecking ball. The jail was built 1822.

Pointsett Bridge may have been designed by Robert Mills. It was built in 1820 when he was state architect. There’s no definite yea or nay if he did or not.

 

He also designed a few structures in Columbia and I’ll highlight them in my next post.