Friday, June 12, 2009

A Covered Bridge, Kudzu, and Lead Sleds in Pretty Country

October 25, 2008, about eight months ago.

I decide to take an easy ride to the east and north to see what is there.

First, I ride through Greenville and beyond the downtown section to the Cycle Gear store. I like to look around in this store. The sales people are usually quite helpful. I browse a little, but don't find anything I can't live without.

I motor up through Greer South Carolina to Campbell's Covered Bridge, which is here on the map:

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A little history from the Greenville County Library website:
"Built in 1909, Campbell Covered Bridge remains the only covered bridge in South Carolina. Charles Irwin Willis erected the 38-foot long, 12-foot wide pine structure across the Beaverdam Creek on Pleasant Hill road. Locals believe that the bridge was named for Lafayette Campbell, who at the time that the bridge was built owned 194 acres near the bridge.

"In 1966 major restoration work was completed on the bridge."
I set my camera to black and white, so it looks like an olden-times picture.

View of the Beaverdam Stream beneath the bridge.

And in color -- reentering the twenty-first century.

You can walk down to water level for this view.

The historical marker.

The interior structure.

I walk to the far side of the bridge and happen across this scene.

For you city boys, those are goats. They are grazing here behind the barbed wire, tended by this fellow.

Actually, the goats have been hired to provide a specific service here. They are cleaning out the Kudzu that infested this area. They are rented out by the day to do this work. Fido there is watching over them.

For those of you who are not from the South, here is some information about Kudzu from Wikipedia:
"Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where it was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant. From 1935 to the early 1950s the Soil Conservation Service encouraged farmers in the Southeastern United States to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion as above, and the Civilian Conservation Corps planted it widely for many years.

"However, it was subsequently discovered that the Southeastern US has near-perfect conditions for kudzu to grow out of control — hot, humid summers, frequent rainfall, temperate winters with few hard freezes (kudzu cannot tolerate low freezing temperatures that bring the frost line down through its entire root system, a rare occurrence in this region), and no natural predators. As such, the once-promoted plant was named a pest weed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1953."
This is what the kudzu had done to the trees and other vegetation.

This information is from the Greenville News.
"Greenville County Recreation District will be employing 30 goats as temps. They will be used to clear underbrush on about 15 acres to help preserve the historic Campbell’s Covered Bridge Park. The terrain is too rocky or steep for human or machine clearing. Heavy equipment might send silt and mud into the Beaverdam Creek and damage or destroy part of the old homestead. Goats not only clear large areas of brush and weeds, including poison oak and poison ivy, they also fertilize and till. You need 10 goats per acre. They will clear it in a month."
Yes, there is a company that does this. It is called Wells Goat Farm.
Here is the after photo of what the goats did in one month.

I took another picture of Fido. He looks mighty pleased with himself, doesn't he?

I wander off the main roads a bit and find a house with several lead sleds in the yard.

Now, for those who don't know what a lead sled is, it is a car whose body has been modified, usually by smoothing out contours and removing chrome adornment. This may also include Frenching in head and taillights, as well as antennas, chopping and channeling, and other modifications.

But why lead sled? That is because before the invention of polyester body putty -- Bondo is a common brand -- an alloy of lead was used to fill imperfections and dents. It was 30% tin and 70% lead. You can still buy it from Eastwood, along with instructional videos and tools to apply it.

My first glimpse of the lead sleds was from here. The horse got my attention, but the cars beyond him might have been just another grouping of tired old wrecks that you see around the countryside.

I ride down the road a bit and stop in front of the property to get a better look. First there is a 1955 Oldsmobile.

The door handles and hood ornament have been removed, as have the front and rear bumpers, parking lights have been set into the panel that replaces the front bumper, the headlights have been made into quads and Frenched in, and the grill has been Frenched in as well. A set of alloy wheels has been installed.

It probably looked like this when new, except for the alloy wheels and lowering of this car.

Next is a 1941 Chevrolet. This is almost the last of the prewar Chevrolets. A few 1942 models were produced before the auto plants were turned over to wartime production. That is probably a 1947 to 1950 Dodge behind it.

The front and rear bumpers have been removed along with some other chrome. It has been lowered and fitted with alloy wheels. The Chevrolet probably looked like this when new.

My father owned one of these that he bought new just before the war began. It was a Special Deluxe 2 door sedan. Master Deluxe was the base model. It was black, and was damaged by a falling tree when it was just a few months old. Repaired, it served many years, being used by my brother until about 1956. It had a vacuum shift, which was very troublesome. This gave you about an 8" throw from first to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, and reverse. With the vacuum working properly, you had about a 3-4" shift. It also had an under-the-dash defroster and under-the-passenger-seat heater, a dealer-installed cartridge-type oil filter, a Motorola push-button radio, and a single backup light. Quite the fancy ride.

That red one behind the Olds is probably a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetline.

It is basically the same as the 1942 model with minor chrome changes. It probably looked like this when new.

Note that the right rear fender of the Olds in front of the Fleetline is in primer paint. Maybe they are working on a repair.

Anyway, these cars are sitting in a yard out in the country and apparently are mostly not being used. That is a shame. They actually look pretty good from the street.

The view of the mountains from here is great. That is the Blue Ridge Escarpment there in the distance. I wish I had been able to get a picture with fewer foreground distractions, but you get the idea of the beauty of the area.

The land is very gently rolling below the escarpment.

Later, I make my way past Wildcat Branch Falls, then to Table Rock State Park and snap a few pictures. The sky is particularly pretty today, I think, and the fall colors reflect nicely off the lake. ...and it is time for a potty break.

I ride home along US-178.

I have ridden about ninety-six miles today along this route -- a short ride, but with some neat scenery.

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