South Carolina (Northwest Upcountry) First Week

We decided to take off for three weeks after Christmas…just because we could! I thought South Carolina is close enough, approximately 6 hour drive to Thousand Trails Carolina Landing, and would be warm….not….

We found some places were closed for the winter, but thoroughly enjoyed what was available to us.

To enlarge the pictures, click on them; and be sure to click on the names of places that are underlined to connect you to internet for more details and pictures.

Even though we were parked in South Carolina, we traveled into the Northeast corner of Georgia as well. We were intrigued by the advertisements of a Bavarian town in Georgia.
Helen was about an hour away. It is a small town that was “remodeled” in the 70’s to appear like a village in the alps. In addition to the typical tourist shops, we found “Charlemagne’s Kingdom”, a model HO railroad exhibition. It was a really unique layout with a scale of the tallest mountain.
The owners, from Oldenburg, Germany, came to America in 1963. in the 1990’s they created their ‘Miniature Germany’, with accurate landscaped topography, bridges, autobahn, industrial and urban architecture, from the North sea to the Alps!

On the way back we stopped in a small town south of Helen, Nacoochee, and toured an antique store,

working gristmill,


Further along the road we came across a beautiful valley, (looked like pasture land) with a Cherokee Indian Mound in the middle. The center was the site of an ancient Cherokee town visited by De Soto in 1540.

Right across the road was a little Baptist church and cemetery, still being used today.

The former site of a trading post is 1/4 mile down the road A couple of miles off the highway we found an historic Stovall Mill covered bridge.
It is fun to imagine how things looked in the area a couple of hundred years ago.

The next day, the 30th, we visited Pendleton, S.C. This was an early settlement of Scotch-Irish settlers, mostly farmers, in 1790. They were soon joined by wealthy Lowcountry families who built summer homes. We were told they came up to the mountains to get away from the coast with hot, humid weather, and diseases like malaria. We checked out a couple of antique stores and a bakery, then identified several historical buildings on a 1 1/2 mile walking tour of the town. Included was St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where John C. Calhoun and family, and the Clemson family was buried. We found that many of the small towns we visited had histories that were related in some way to these two families. We were fortunate to be able to tour Ashtabula, an 1828 two story Plantation House which normally is not open during this time of year. we were the only clients, and since no-one else came, our guide went into a lot of details, giving us a fantastic overview for 2 1/2 hours!!

There are over 30 waterfalls in South Carolina within a couple hours drive of where we were parked in Fairplay. We were able to hike to 14 of them!! I found this website alleneasler.com that lists waterfalls, including those that we saw. Check it out! His pictures show a lot more water than when we saw them. Keep in mind as you view my pictures that this is after two years of drought.
Our first hikes to waterfalls were on New Years Eve! It was really cold, in the 20’s, but we decided we would stay warm while walking! The combined length of our first three hikes was 5 miles…..good for the old legs!!
1) The Riley Moore Falls on the Chauga River was once the site of a gristmill. It measures 12 feet high, 100 feet wide.
2) Isaqueena Falls on the Cane Creek. This was a short walk, named for an Indian maiden who hid on a ledge to avoid capture as she fled to warn her English lover of an Indian attach.

Close to this falls is stumphouse tunnel (click on history to the left when going to this sight). This tunnel was to complete a railroad system from Charleston, South Carolina to Cincinnati, Ohio after the Civil War. After running out of money it was abandoned.


3) The Yellow Branch Falls on the Yellow Branch river is a 60 foot cascade. The hike took us through a beautiful Rhododendron forest.


On Jan. 1, we continued our exploration of the falls. The flow of these two warranted several pictures!
4) Blue Hole Falls on Cedar Creek, 75 foot down a narrow gap into a blue hole… A 30 minute hike, which we figure is 1 1/2 miles, this took some crawling along rocks to get the best view!!







Good thing we have been exercising, so we were limber enough!

5) Chauga Narrows on the Chauga River, another 30 minute hike, 25 ft. high




The Rhododendrons were practically overgrowing the pathway!

It s hard to describe how big the trunks were!

6) Spoonauger Falls, on Spoonauger Creek, a 50 foot fall was only 20 minutes from parking, but after 45 minutes we figured we had missed it….. so we double backed and found the path we missed.


The following day it was rainy, so we visited another small town in the area, Seneca. It was probably the closest good-sized town (the one we took the jeep to when we had trouble starting it…and had the starter replaced… didn’t want to get stranded in one of the remote areas we were exploring!) The historic area was Ram Cat Alley, a couple of blocks of stores and restaurants. Since it was Paul’s birthday, we went out to lunch at Circa 1930, (on internet site, scroll down for pictures) a restaurant located within an antique store. Ecclectic with white linen table clothes, antique furnishings, They had great food and service! And low and behold, I do not make the best pecan pie anymore….they do. It was REALLY GOOD! We went back a week later, just to have the pie again! So I am looking at other pecan pie recipes and going to try them to see if I can make the best again! After all, we are now in the south!

Since it was still rainy, we decided to go to Greenville. We explored the downtown area a bit, which included the
7)Reedy River Falls, the site of the original 1776 settlement in Greenville.

A great park has been built around it.


We drove through the campus of Bob Jones University, but their gallery and museum was still closed for the Christmas Holiday, so we visited it later in our vacation. The Upcountry Museum in Greenville was open and we spent some time there, viewing the unique displays showing the history of the area. We also visited the Confederate War Museum, which was housed in an old house. This museum is sponsored by 16th volunteers, sons of confederate soldiers. It was a very informative hour long personal tour which included artifacts, guns, uniforms, pictures, books. The history of the evolving South Carolina flag was interesting; in the beginning, the flag could be any color. Although it is now indigo, the Citadel still flies the red flag because that was the color the flag was when the first and last shots of the war between the states were fired.

Sunday, after visiting a Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Walhalla, we took a break and just read and relaxed! End of first week!! I’m working on the other two weeks…..
(I took 448 pictures!!)

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