Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

I hit Musgrove Mill at an unfortunate time for me. I’d sprained my ankle a few weeks earlier and was wearing a brace. That pretty much blew it for me hiking wise, although I managed to hobble a few steps anyway. More than a few steps really and I would have gone more, but sanity kicked in. I can always come back later and take the longer trails. A trip to Greenville was what brought me by the park since it sits a short drive off I26. I’d seen the sign for years, and now, desperate to visit a new park after having to stay close to Columbia, I stopped. A badly sprained ankle was not going to stop me.

The park sits along the Enoree river and sprawls into Laurens, Spartenburg, and Union counties. Most of the park is in Laurens. It’s on the site of the Revolutionary War battle, the Battle of Musgrove Mill. The date was the 19th of August, 1780. With the numbers of their side, the British loyalists thought it an easy victory, but the Patriot militia rallied and won the skirmish. The details of the battle are told in the visitor center and along the trails. I can’t do it justice here. Most of the fighting took place along the Enoree River.

The battle took place after the devastating loss in Camden and so was a turning point for the Americans.

Make sure to visit the visitor center to learn more. There are special events throughout the year, so check out the website for those. One of the activities is trying on a uniform. That would make a nice selfie.

There wasn’t anything going on when I visited, and after visiting the visitor center, I hobbled over to the gaze at ruins of the old house, then to the start of a trail where I decided it really was too far to go on my ankle. A pity.

There are two trails, both easy. The British Camp Trail is one mile and the Battlefield Trail is a little more at one point three miles. The former starts at the parking lot by the visitor center and the latter starts at the parking area on Horseshoe Falls Road on the other side of the Enoree River.

One has to drive to the falls on the other side of the river. It’s not far and it’s worth it. The falls are not far from the parking lot. I made it easy.

To visit the park is free and it’s open daily 9 am – 6pm

How to Get There:

From I26, exit 52 and go northeast on SC56. To get to the waterfall, drive over the Enoree River and turn left onto Horsehoe Falls Road.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/musgrove-mill

What’s Close By:

  • Sumter National Forest
  • Rose Hill Plantation S.H.S.
  • Laurens Historic District
  • Clinton Historic Commercial District
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SC174 Scenic Road – Edisto Island National Scenic Byway

 

Back in the 1970’s, when we drove from Columbia to Edisto Beach, it seemed like this stretch lasted forever. Like we’d entered the Twilight Zone and were doomed to go over the same stretch of road forever.

In my defense, I was a bored teen and we’d been on the road for hours, or so it felt.

It didn’t feel like that this time. I took in all the sights (and the road of course since I didn’t want to have an accident) and stopped at places of interest along the way.

This section of road, from the Mckinley Washington Bridge at Dawhoo Creek to Edisto Beach State Park became a South Carolina scenic byway in 1988. A little over twenty years later, 2009, the seventeen mile segment became a National Scenic Byway. Along the way, the road passes maritime forests, salt marshes and creeks, and historical sites. It pretty much represents the barrier island landscape typical of the southern South Carolina coast.

There’s a lot to see, more than one would imagine for a seventeen mile stretch especially if you want to take a proper look see.

 Oak Avenue to Botany Bay

In my day trip, I didn’t get to see all of it. My priority of the day was Botany Bay WMA and that took up most of day. It is well worth lingering over. I stopped at three historic churches, wandered a bit through Edisto Beach, the town, and took in the Intracoastal Waterway from the boat ramp at the bridge. I didn’t get to the state park, but I’ve been before, nor the aquarium or the museum. All of those cost a fee. The State Park is well worth the money, but I had to go home.

Edisto Island Presbyterian Church

The Mystery Tree

If you are able to camp or get a cabin at the state park, please take your time in visiting the places around here.

From SC174 you can visit :

  • Botany Bay
  • Edisto Beach State Park
  • Edisto Beach
  • Edisto Island Baptist Church
  • Edisto Island Presbyterian Church (oldest congregation in continuous existence in SC)
  • Mystery Tree
  • Old First Baptist Church

Zion Reformed Church

There’s also the Edisto Island Museum and the Serpenterian. Look online for hours and fees.

How to Get There:

From US17, drive south on SC174. It is west of Charleston.

Links:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/73595

What’s Close By:

  • ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
  • Dungannon Heritage Preserve
  • Caw Caw Interpretive Center
  • Charleston

Robert Mills District

 

The official Robert Mills tour consists of two parts, but I’ll mash them into one. The district gets its name from the two buildings designed by Mills, The Robert Mills House and SC Asylum. By starting at the Robert Mills House, you should be able to get the brochures at the shop there. When I did the walk, I divided it into two, but took a few side trips such as to the Woodrow Wilson House.

One can take a tour inside the Robert Mills building, go to the website for the hours. Interiors do little for me, except for castles. Bring your comfy shoes. Walking on pavement is harder than hiking on dirt. You can eat at places around here, on Main Street, or you can do what I do, and bring your own sandwich and water bottle.

 

1615 Blanding – Hampton Preston Mansion

Built 1818. During it’s existence it has housed a governor as well as college women. It used to be nationally known for its gardens and they are currently on working on the grounds.

1401 Laurel – Debruhl-Marshall House

Built 1820. The architect is unknown and some say it might be Robert Mills as it’s similar to the Robert Mills House.

1410 Laurel –

Built 1900. It was a single family dwelling until the 1960’s when it was subdivided. It has since been remodeled for commercial use.

1422 Laurel – Shannon Smith Stuckey House

Built in the late 1880’s, this house is house for its distinctive architecture.

1511 Laurel – Sims-Stackhouse Mansion

Built sometime before 1853. It once sat on a raised basement, but in 1909, then owner T.B. Stackhouse removed the top floors and relocated them to this location.

2025 Marion – Modjeska Monteith Simkins House

Built in the 1890s, Civil Rights icon Modjeska Monteith Simkins lived here around 1932 to 1992.

1403 Richland – Mann-Simons Cottage

This is one of the few houses in Columbia owned by an African American in Antebellum times.

1601 Richland – Seibels House

This may be Columbia’s oldest standing house. Part of it is supposed to date back to 1796. It’s current look is from the 1920’s and is one many renovations it’s had.

How to Get There:

The Robert Mills District is in downtown Columbia. The district is on the east and west side of US76/Bull Street. A good starting point is the Robert Mills House. From Bull Street, go east one block on Blanding Street.

Links:

https://www.historiccolumbia.org/tour-locations?neighborhood=Robert%20Mills%20District%20West

What’s Close By:

Historic Main Street

SC State House and Complex

USC

Allen University

Benedict College

Battle of Camden NHL

The Battle of Camden National Historic Landmark is a nice place not only to learn about history, but to take a walk in a pine forest setting.

The place is almost a surprise as one makes their way on RD58/Flat Rock Road, which bisects the battlefield. There are a number of trails to take and I choose the East Battlefield Trail and the Colonial Road. There are markers along the way that explain what happened.

A battle took place here on 16 August 1780 and was a victory for the British. The main players here were General Charles Cornwallis, British, and General Horatio Gates of the Continental army. I won’t go into too much detail as those more knowledgeable of the Revolutionary War and military matters may roll their eyes at my description. Fortunately there is an audio podcast that can explain this better than I can. And the signs along the trail are really helped.

The battle took place over an area of about 2,000 acres and partially in the dark as both forces marched through the night to attack one another. After some fighting, they stopped, starting up again at dawn. The Continental army did not do well at all. Some of the soldiers fled and the others were surrounded and captured. Their commanding officer, Baron Johann de Kalb, was mortally wounded. There’s a marker where he fell.

The scene now, as one walks through these woods and grasslands, is supposed to be pretty much like it was before. It’s peacefulness belies that this was where one of the deadliest battles of the Revolutionary War took place.

How to Get There:

On US521/US601, just north of Shamokin, take Flat Rock Road/RD58 northwest and look for the signs.

Links:

http://scgreatoutdoors.com/park-battleofcamdenlandmark.html

What’s Close By:

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site

Camden

Goodale State Park

Lake Wateree

Museums in Columbia

When it’s raining or there’s bad weather, museums are a good alternative. Of course, some cost money, but a few are free. Sometimes the fee based museums have specials. You’ll need to check out their website for that information. Columbia, being the capital, is home to several museums. These include:

Columbia fire Dept Museum – 1800 Laurel

Small, but full of interesting exhibits of the history of Columbia’s fire dept with fire engines including a horse drawn steam powered one. Any child who lives fire engines will love this place.

Free.

EdVenture Children’s Museum – 211 Gervais St.

If you have little ones, this is a definite place to go. I enjoyed it myself when I went with my nephew and crawled through the world’s largest child, Eddy. It proved a bit challenging. There are plenty of hands on activities. Check the website for special events. One can spend a whole day here.

Admission charged.

edventure.org

McKissick Museum – USC Horseshoe

At one time it was a library, but now it’s the visitor center and a museum. Some of the exhibits change.

Free

SC Military Museum – 1225 Bluff Rd – you can’t miss the tanks sitting out front.

scmilitarymuseum.com

SC State Museum – 301 Gervais (has SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in it)

This offers all sorts of things, special exhibits. There’s a 4-D theater, an observatory, and a planetarium. The permanent collection is great too and I go there for just that. The hands on activities are fun. I love the space section.

Admission charged – check website as they sometimes have specials.

scmuseum.org

Columbia Museum of Art – 1515 Main St.

Contains art from Monet, Botticelli, and Chihuly (he does glass work). Check the website to see what touring exhibit is currently being shown.

Admission charged – They sometimes have specials so check their website

Columbiamuseum.org

South Carolina State House

Columbia was not the first capital of South Carolina. That was Charleston. The first state house was built there in the 1750’s. About thirty years later, it was decided to have the capital more in the center of the state and thus Columbia was born. It was the nation’s first planned capital city. By 1790, the new State House was built. It, like the first State House was built of wood. It, like its predecessor, succumbed to fire.

I’ve been around the State House countless times. I used to stand at the bus stop kitty corner from it’s grounds as I waited to go home after a day at USC. I never went inside the capital building until recently though. It’s cool one can visit for free. Just know there is plenty of security and they will check your bags and that.

That same visit as I stood outside, looking for the stars on the building I saw then Governor Haley emerged from a side door with her entourage. That was a pretty neat experience.

The present State House was completed in 1907. It was under construction during the Civil War and you may have seen the iconic picture of the building with its exterior walls and foundation, looking as if it had been destroyed along with a whole lot of Columbia when General Sherman’s troops swept through. The stars I mentioned earlier, mark where cannon balls hit the structure.

Interesting tidbits of the building include that the columns on the portico are each carved from a single piece of stone. Next time I go by, I’m going to look at them closer. Also, the dome has two parts. The interior one is for looks and fits into the exterior dome which is made of steel and wood and finished with copper. When they renovated the State House in the 1990’s and redid the copper part, it shone like a bright penny. Now it’s dulled again.

The State House grounds are worth a tour too with its park like appearance and all the monuments.

How To Get There:

Address: 1100 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Links:

https://www.experiencecolumbiasc.com/listing/south-carolina-state-house/15796/

What’s Close By:

River Front Park

State Museum

USC Campus

Main Street

Visitor Center

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.

Three Rivers Greenway

Three Rivers Greenway is more than what lies in Richland County, which is already quite a bit. There’s also a good chunk in Lexington County in West Columbia and Cayce. But this post will be on the Richland County side.

The three rivers in the title refer to the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree Rivers. The latter is created by the Broad and Saluda. The northernmost point of the greenway can be accessed north of Broad River Road. At the parking lot you can see the lock that starts the Columbia canal. Walk across that and you can see the diversion dam. It’s a nice walk through the woods on the island especially on a hot day. From here you can walk all the way to Riverfront Park in downtown Columbia. Unfortunately due to the 2015 flood, part of the canal on which the walkway ran is gone so it’s not possible to get to the Gervais Street Bridge and the State Museum.

Further South, though, is Granby Park. It’s located at the end of Catawba. Here the trail continues, swooping into the Olympia and Granby Mill area and through Olympia Park before puttering out. While part isn’t along the river, it is still a nice walk through a historic mill village and mills. In Olympia Park I was lucky enough to catch sight of a blue heron.

The walkways on the river are lighted and paved with boardwalks and overlooks. You can walk, run, or ride your bicycle. It is also wheelchair accessible. It is currently twelve and a half miles long and growing. At this time they are working on a segment on the Richland County side of the Saluda River, along the zoo.

 

Link:

http://riveralliance.org/project/three-rivers-greenway/

Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site

It was a rather warm day when I visited this park. I’d just dropped off someone at the Augusta airport and detoured through Beech Island on my way back to Columbia. The town of Beech Island isn’t an island at all, but it may have gotten its name from a former island on the Savannah River. The town is one of the oldest settlements in SC.

While not large, 396 acres, Redcliffe Plantation packs quite a bit of history. I spent some time walking the grounds after talking a good while with the friendly ranger. The ranger I spoke with in the park store was enthusiastic and knew the stories of the place. I learned quite a bit from her. After our conversation I wandered out, up the red clay hill from which the place gets its name. Redcliffe. It’s covered in a green lawn and dotted with trees. There’s this humongous clump of cactus that catches my eye. It’s not what I expected. The flowers on are pretty.

The antebellum house was owned by the James Henry Hammond. Besides being governor of the SC (1842-1844) , he was also a senator, congressman, and cotton planter. He acquired the property in 1855. The house was completed in 1859 and is an example of Greek-Revival Style. It was remodeled in 1886, restored in the mid 1900s. In 1973 it was donated to the state. Besides the house, there are two slave cabins and a stables.

When it was a working plantation, they grew indigo and sugar cane here. Plus there were orchards and a vineyard.

Tours of the mansion are offered Thursday through Monday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Visit the website in case there are any changes. There is a fee for the tour. Again, consult the website for prices.

 

How to Get There:

Off SC125, northeast of Beech Island, on Redcliffe Road.

 

Links:

http://southcarolinaparks.com/redcliffe/introduction.aspx

 

What’s Close By:

North Augusta

Aiken

Columbia Downtown Cemeteries

In all, Richland County has several hundred cemeteries. These include small family plots to large, public cemeteries, and those nestled against churches. In Fort Jackson lies a National Cemetery for our brave veterans. The entrance for this is at the intersection of Clemson and Percival Roads in Northeast Columbia.

In the downtown area, I visited a variety of cemeteries. I’ve always found them fascinating. When I was young, when we walked and came across a cemetery, we’d walk through, gazing at the graves and wondering about those buried within.

The largest cemetery is Elmwood Cemetery off Elmwood. It was established in 1854 as a rural cemetery and was ‘the’ place to be buried. A variety of grave markers such as obelisks, mausoleums, and grave art can be seen. Early in it’s next century, the trustees opened up a new section to reflect the current style for cemeteries – a lawn park. The cemetery is about 168 acres.

Abutting Elmwood cemetery is Randolph Cemetery. Founded in 1871, it’s one of the first black cemeteries in Columba. It’s named after Benjamin Franklin Randolph who was a black, state senator assassinated in 1868 in Abbeville County.

Hebrew Benevolent Society – established 1826.

Geiger Ave Cemetery. State owned plot of land that was formerly associated with the Confederate Soldiers home. Within a brick and iron fence rest those from the Confederate veteran’s facility. In the larger area are buried indigent or unclaimed deceased white mental patients.

St. Peter’s

Trinity Church

Douglas Cemetery – close to Elmwood cemetery

Olympia Cemetery established for the mill workers.