Main Street

Main Street. Where all the action is. Or used to be. Or where it’s at again. It all depends on where you are. Driving around, you’ll never know what kind of Main Street you’ll find and how you’ll find it. Maybe there’s not much left, physically, but the memories are still there and there’s always something interesting. If you’re lucky you’ll bump into someone who remembers what it used to be, bad or good.

According to the Municipal Association of South Carolina, there are 270 towns and cities with a population of 50 and higher. 270 main streets, they maybe called something other than ‘Main’ Street. 270 downtowns. Somehow I thought there’d be more.

Big or small, I like to take a walk around Main Street, time willing. Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, etc, all have bustling downtowns. In the smaller places, the sidewalks might roll in after six p.m. leaving you amazed the store’s closed so early. It happened to me. Here are a few downtowns, Main Streets, I’ve taken pictures of. Enjoy.

Sumter with Opera House

North

Newberry with their opera house

Mullins

Georgetown                                                    Cheraw

Great Falls

Chester                                                  Olar

 

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Pacolet Mills

The Pacolet Mill I wanted to see no longer stands having been demolished in the late 1980’s. I asked the wonderful ladies at the museum why they were torn down. With no one wanting to buy the structures and the city not having the money to keep them up, there wasn’t much choice. While saddened, I could understand the reason. So, I didn’t get to the see the mills, but I did see where they’d been as well as the cloth room and warehouse. Plus there are the mill houses, all part of the Pacolet Mills Historic District. The museum, which used to be the Pacolet Mill office, sits close by the Pacolet River. When you go, make sure to visit it. I really enjoyed my time there.

spartenburg-pacolet-14-mill-village-and-water-tower

There’s more than just mill ruins to see in Pacolet. I misplaced myself for a few minutes and found myself on an interesting road that might have held more buildings from the mill. I wish I’d had more time to check it out. But there’s always a next time. I haven’t seen hardly any of Spartenburg county. I will return.

Pacolet started out Buzzard Roost. A small place, it grew in leaps and bounds when the Spartenburg and Union Rail Lines came through the area in the 1850s. It was at this time the town changed the name to Pacolet, from the river running past. Where the name Pacolet is derived from is unknown, but the two versions offered both include a horse. When you cross the bridge over the Pacolet River you’ll see a statue of a horse, the logo of Pacolet Manufacturing and mascot of the mill’s baseball team.

spartenburg-pacolet-04-pacolet-river

The area includes several sections with Pacolet in the name: Pacolet, Central Pacolet, and Pacolet Mills

In 1903 this area got hit with the worst natural disaster in Spartenburg County when heavy rains caused the river to flood and swept sections of the textile mill along with a church and other buildings downstream. Seventy people died and 600 were left homeless. The mill rebuilt and became one of the largest in the south.

Besides the mills the town has other historic sites including the Marysville School and Mulberry Chapel Methodist Church.

How to get there:

One goes through all three sections, Pacolet, Central Pacolet, and Pacolet Mills via SC150. If you’re coming from I85, take US176 South. If you’re on I26, you can take SC49 (exit 44) east and turn left onto SC56, or exit 52 north. Then east (right) onto SC150.

 

Links:

www.townofpacolet.com

 What’s Close By :

Croft State Park

Pacolet River Heritage Preserve

Walnut Grove Plantation

Cowpens National Battlefield

Sumter National Forest

Rose Hill Plantation

SC Hiking Books

When I plan a trip, two of the books I like to consult are these:  Hiking South Carolina by John Clark and John Dantzler and 50 Hikes in South Carolina by Johnny Molloy. I had another, but I prefer these.

While yes, they cover some of the same hikes, they also contain different ones, and one or the other goes into more detail. For example for the Big Bend Falls hike, one books describes just how to get to the falls and the other details the entire Big Bend Trail.

One is not better than the other. If hiking is your thing and, if you can, get both. I snagged both of mine at a book sale. You can find the most recent editions in a hiking store, book store, or on-line. If you can only get one, I’ll describe each and you can make up your own mind.

50-hikes

50 Hikes in South Carolina

In the beginning of the book is a map of the state with the locations of all the trails mentioned in the book. With each hike description there is a topographical map useful in gauging how hilly the terrain is, but get a USGS map if the trail is rough and not well marked. The book, both of them, will tell you which one to get.

Also in the beginning is a table listing the hikes, their nearest city, the distance of trail, and other comments like if there is a waterfall or campground along the trail. The trails are divided into upstate, midlands, and lowcountry so you don’t have to go through the entire book looking for trails that are near to one another.

Each trail description is prefaced with the total distance, the hiking time, vertical rise, and difficulty rating. In the body of the description it tells you how to get to the trail head and describes the hike. There is a photo for each entry.

hiking-sc

Hiking South Carolina

In the beginning of the book there is a state map of all trails listed and a legend (nice) for the maps that accompany the entries. The introduction includes how to be prepared, trail regulations, a section on the natural history of the state. This book includes the longer trails such as the Foothills and Chattooga. It does not include the Palmetto trail. That’s a volume of books by itself.

Each of the 62 entries contains a map, general description, location, distance, difficulty, trail conditions, and fees, if any. The body of the entry tells one how to find the trailhead, a description of the hike, and if there are facilities or lodging nearby. With the hilly trails there’s a graph showing the change in elevation. There are maps, but not topographical ones. Not every entry has a photo.

One thing I liked about the book were the appendixes: For more information (web addresses), Further reading, Hiker’s checklist, and Hike list. This organizes the hikes by distance – short and easy to long and strenuous.

Check these books out. Your local library may have a copy you can check out to see which one you prefer.

Poinsett Bridge

My trip to Poinsett Bridge began with the hunt for South Carolina’s only remaining covered bridge, Campbell’s Bridge. From there we drove back to SC11 and took County Road 42/Callahan Mountain Road toward North Carolina. Not knowing exactly where the bridge was, I drove right by it. It being a narrow road, I continued down before I found a place to turn around. It’s a lovely road anyway and no hardship to drive. I don’t know if it’s still there, but we saw a rusted up truck in a kudzu patch that made for a nice picture taking opportunity.

greenville-poinsett-bridge-06-view-toward-main-road

Poinsett Bridge sits on the 120 acre Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve. There’s not much parking and take care to watch for pedestrians. The stone bridge is a short stroll away. It sits over Little Gap Creek and is surrounded by trees. I’d love to come here in the fall. When I went it was summer.

The bridge is thought to be the oldest surviving bridge in the state and is believed to have been designed by Robert Mills. Built in 1820, it was one of three stone bridges that stood on the route known as Saluda Mountain Road, part of the State Road that ran from Charleston to North Carolina and into Tennessee. The State Road was a toll road.

greenville-poinsett-bridge-03-with-jon

Poinsett Bridge, named after Joel Poinsett is constructed with locally quarried stone. There is a fifteen foot Gothic arch for the creek to run through. One can view it easy from paths that span out alongside the creek.

How to Get There:

It is off SC11, near Traveler’s Rest. The address is 580 Callahan Mountain Road/Rd 42,

Link:

http://greenvillerec.com/parks/poinsett-bridge/

What’s Near By:

Campbell’s Bridge

Jones Gap State Park

Ceaser’s Head State Park

Table Rock State Park

Rails to Trails

Barnwell- Williston - walking path

Rails-to-Trails are hike and bike paths built on former rail routes. They are relatively flat making a good surface for walking. Some are paved, some not. Some are quite long, good for riding bikes. One can rent bicycles along certain rails-to-trails paths, which is good if you don’t have a bicycle. Like me. I might have to invest in one.

Newberry - Peak - Palmetto Trail 07 trestle bridge over Broad River

Rails-to-trails came about after the consolidation of rail lines. In the 1960’s uneconomical branch lines got closed. It didn’t take long for the first hike/bike path to be created, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin. The longest, when finished, is going to be 321 miles. That’s the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska.

The longest in South Carolina is the Swamp Fox passage of the Palmetto trail at 42 miles.

All in all there’s over 750 miles of abandoned railway in our state. To find some of them, click on the link below. It’s not inclusive as it misses some shorter trails like the section of the Palmetto Trail at Peak. Here one crosses the Broad River via a train trestle. Just for that alone makes it a go-to place. Then there are rail-to-trail paths through towns like Ninety Six and Williston and many more. The one in Williston was once part of the historic Charleston to Hamburg line.

http://www.sctrails.net/trails/ALLTRAILS/Railtrails/SCRAILTRAILS.html

Greenville: Mice On Main

Ordinarily most people don’t go out of their way to look for mice, but finding mice in Greenville is a fun activity whoever you are, adult or child. I first heard about it at a convention, but didn’t get a chance to investigate. Then, when my sister and nephew flew in at the Greenville airport, I decided to get an early in order to have time and hunt. It was a cold, winter day, and overcast so I bundled up. Luck landed me a convenient parking space downtown (don’t worry there are plenty). My first stop was at Mast General Store for the clue sheet. One can be printed from the official website, but I needed an excuse to visit the store and buy weird candy.
Paper in hand, I began my search, puzzling out clues such as: Mifflin’s husband, Uncle Miles, loves to eat Italian. He’s by the rain spout. If you’ve found him, give a shout! Mifflin and Miles are names of two of the mice.
The idea of planting nine mice on Main Street came from a high school student who was inspired to do his senior project by the book Goodnight Moon. Jim Ryan proposed the idea and waded through all the red tape in order to make his idea reality. Now the mice are hidden along a five-bock stretch. They were sculpted by the artist Zan Wells who is also from Greenville. Each of the bronze mice has it’s own special personality.
One can also purchase a book, game, or t-shirt. The proceeds go to charities in the Greenville area.

How to get there:
The mice are on Main Street on a five-block stretch near the Hiatt Hotel.

Links
Mice on Main

What’s close by:
Reedy River Falls Park
Greenville Zoo
Lake Conastee Nature Park

Town Clocks

Aiken - Aiken - Laurens St 03 town clock - Copy

Drive through a town in South Carolina and chances are you’ll see a town clock. It may be on a building or, most likely, a clock mounted on a post and pedestal (called a street or post clock). I don’t know what about them caught my attention, but on my drives and walks around towns I started noticing them more and more to the point that if I see one, I take a picture. While many of the post town clocks look the same there are little differences and it’s fun to see how many different types exist. In Barnwell there’s even a sun dial town clock. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but one day.

Lancaster - Kershaw - Town Clock 03 detail - Copy

With watches and being able to check one’s cell phone for the time, the need for a town clock has lessened, but until about the middle of the 1900’s people relied on these town clocks for the time. They were set in the center of town and usually put on the highest structure so they could be seen, or heard for blocks around.

The clocks I’ve seen are in the center of the downtown areas although many aren’t on the highest structure anymore. One that is, is the Winnsboro’s town clock. This is the longest continuously running clock in the U.S. and has been running for over 100 years.

Fairfield - Winnsboro - 01 Town Clock Christmas - Copy

Link

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/sc-town-clocks/

Calhoun Falls State Park

Abbeville - Calhoun Falls SP - 04 marina

It was a hot day in July when I visited Calhoun Falls State Park and I didn’t give it the due it deserved, but I did enjoy my visit. They have a nice visitor center and store that I visited. I took a walk around the swimming area as well. There’s a nice beach with shower facilities. Close to the ranger station and shore are picnic tables shaded by tall trees with great views of Lake Russell. There’s even a marina.
I’m told the campground is one most popular ones in the state. If it hadn’t been so hot, I might have asked if a space was available, but one probably has to make reservations for the sites here.
The park is located on Lake Richard B. Russell created by the Russell dam, one of several on the Savannah River. There’s an overlook of the dam south of US72. The park occupies one of the many points that jut out into the lake.
Along with swimming facilities, the park offers fishing, equestrian trails, and hiking trails, one I had to pass up on, but next time. There’s also a tennis court and a playground and plenty of views of the lake.
The park is also referred to as Calhoun Falls State Recreation Area.

How to Get There:
Calhoun State Park is off SC81, north of where it intersects with SC72 in the town of Calhoun Falls.

Links:
Calhoun Falls State Park
Calhoun Falls SP Video

What’s Close By:
Sumter National Forest
Mt. Carmel Park
Lake Russell

Greenville – Downtown

Greenville - Greenville - Main St ice rink

I’ve been fortunate to have been able to visit Greenville several years in a row. I attended a conference there and always tried to squeeze in time to sightsee on the last day before heading on home. I had an opportunity to visit downtown further on the day I picked up my sister at the airport. It was cold that day and overcast, but still a good visit.
The city of Greenville sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown area several unique features such as a waterfall and a pedestrian bridge, the Liberty Bridge. Both times when I visited in took in the Reedy River Greenway. I’ll go more indepth on that in a later post as it deserves to be highlighted. The second time I visited, I searched for the Mice on Main, small mice statues hidden in plain view. Definitely a game for the kids, but fun for adults too.
Long ago the Cherokee hunted this area. It was once a forbidden place for white settlers. One married a Cherokee woman and got 100,000 acres. On this land he established a plantation on the Reedy River in what’s now downtown Greenville.
Another settler started a village, one he called Pleasantburg. One of its new citizens, Vardry McBee, is considered to be the father of Greenville. Later in life he donated land on which churches, schools, and more were built upon. He and other local leaders funded a railroad, the Greenville and Columbia Railroad.
Greenville continues to be a bustling place with its revitalized downtown. There is the Falls Park on the Reedy and there are numerous pieces of art along Main Street honoring Greenville’s history. Many old building have been renovated and their character maintained while utilized in different ways. I enjoyed all the statues, besides those of the mice. Look for all the works of art and architecture. Some of the buildings like the Markley Carriage Factory Paint Shop and the Huguenot Mill are listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings.

How to get there:
Greenville is on I85 and I526

Links:
http://www.visitgreenvillesc.com/
http://www.greenvillesc.gov/392/Free-Things-to-Do

What’s Close By:
Plenty including several state parks.

Campbell’s Covered Bridge

Greeneville - Campbell's Covered Bridge - from creek

Only one covered bridge remains in South Carolina – Campbell’s Covered Bridge. As soon as I heard about it, I made it my business to visit. It’s a picturesque structure set in the country with woods and a stream. While I saw it in summer, fall and winter are good times to go as well, if not better.

The bridge sits in a park owned by Greenville County and is not far from scenic SC Hwy 11. You first see the bridge from the parking lot allowing my handicapped mother to see it with no problem. Also in the park is a picnic place, and the foundation of an old grist mill. Then of course, one can visit Beaverdam creek which runs under the bridge. Interpretive signs give information on the bridge.

The 38 foot long structure was built in 1909 by a Charles Irwin Willis. It’s believed he named after Lafayette Campbell who owned quite a bit of land in the area.

How to Get There:
It’s located south of SC 11. Take SC 101 south. Turn west on RD 414 toward Tigerville. Turn south on Pleasant Hill Rd and right on Campbell’s Bridge Rd. There should be signs to help you on the say.

Links:
Campbell’s Covered Bridge

What’s near By:

Scenic Highway 11
Poinsett Bridge
Jones Gap S.P.
Caesar’s Head S.P.
Greenville