Monday, July 27, 2009

A Very Short Road with a Nice Surprise

Since the area where I live is mountainous (Rocky Mountain dwellers may snicker now, but we think these are mountains), a lot of the roads don't go directly anywhere. They wind around so that you can get from one place to another without excessive grades.

One of these roads not far from home is actually quite short, only about 2.2 miles in length, and it functions as a cut through from one route to another. It is up near Whitewater Falls, one of my first destinations and a favorite on SC-130. It is also near another good place to ride, SC-107, a bit west of 130.

The short road in question is part of what is called the Oscar Wigington Byway. Now Oscar apparently ran a large tree farm in Oconee County, and he was a former mayor of Salem South Carolina, but that is about all I have been able to find out about him.

There seems to be some confusion in the spelling his last name however. I have found it spelled Wiggington, Wigington, and Wigginton. We'll sort that out in a few minutes.

The entire Byway is shown in this graphic, from Scenic Drives USA. The portion with the surprise in it is marked 413.

The length of this Scenic Byway is fourteen miles, and it winds through hardwood forests almost the entire way.

The short section of road under consideration is shown here.

So, what is the surprise? Well, nearing the west end of the 2-mile stretch, there is an overlook that has a good view of Lake Jocassee. The reason it is a surprise is that the rest of the road has almost no long views but suddenly opens up in this one place to a far view of the lake. There is also a picnic table or two to have a bite to eat from your picnic hamper. My hamper usually consists only of my tank bag, so I don't have room for a feast -- usually just a couple of Granola bars and a slurp of water.

The overlook is found at the dip to the south on the map about three quarters of the way from the eastern end of the road. Here is a satellite view of that place.

The existence of Lake Jocassee is owed to the damming in 1973 of several rivers for hydroelectric power, drinking water, and recreation. According to Absolute, this lake was formed
"by a confluence of four rivers. The Whitewater River, the furthest west of the four...flows south from headwaters in Transylvania County, North Carolina, over Whitewater Falls and Lower Whitewater Falls before crossing into South Carolina and entering the northwest corner of Lake Jocassee.
"The Thompson River, flows due south until it also reaches the lake in the northwest corner.

"The Horsepasture feeds the lake from the northeast corner, along with the Toxaway River
. [The Toxaway] flows south from headwaters in Transylvania County, North Carolina into Lake Toxaway and over Toxaway Falls, after which it crosses into South Carolina and enters Lake Jocassee.
"The Horsepasture River...rises in Jackson County, North Carolina and flows through the Jocassee Gorges area.
"The Jocassee Hydro Station, located in the southeast corner of Lake Jocassee, separates it from the beginning of Lake Keowee....
"Although most manmade structures were demolished prior to the creation of the lake, divers recently discovered the remains of a lodge which was left intact until the lake rose and now sits below 300 feet of water; a hilltop graveyard with headstones also remains more than 130 feet under the water."
Those divers can be found almost every Saturday and Sunday, mostly using Devil's Fork State Park as their jumping off place. They can walk down a long boat ramp right into the water, which becomes deep very quickly.

Incidentally, Lake Jocassee's shores are almost totally undeveloped. This is because Duke Power, the developer of several lakes, owns most of the land surrounding this one. Also, you may be interested to know that this same power company runs the Oconee Nuclear Station that has generated more power than any other in the United States. They are a great asset to this area in conservation, recreation, and in power generation.

Now, back to the overlook on the Byway. The view from here varies with the weather as is usual in this area: It is frequently hazy here and about. The name of the Blue Ridge came to be because of the bluish haze.

Here are some pictures I have taken over the last year and a half or so. The one directly below is from the first time I visited back in April, 2008, with a small group of riders led by Adam, whom I had recently met.

There is quite a bit of graffiti on the sidewalk here, including this one. "Jesus...My Hero" That's a good thing, I think.

Here is one of me gazing off into the distant view, taken July 3, 2009.

Here is a panoramic picture of the lake from the USDA Forest Service website.

A good book describing many South Carolina attractions including those mentioned here is Scenic Driving South Carolina, by Clark & Pierce.

Excerpts from the book are here.

Lots of other information about the Wigington Byway and surrounding highways is found at the Mile by Mile website.

If you go, be careful at the junction of the Byway with 107. It is downhill from the east and intersects 107 in a blind curve from both directions.

Other nearby places of interest:

Burrell's Ford Road is 3.9 miles south on 107 from SC-413. This is a fine paved road -- for about a third of a mile, then abruptly turns to hard-packed gravel. There are two waterfalls that can be seen by hiking not too far off the road. Spoonauger Falls and King Creek Falls. You can follow this road for some miles. The former location of the ford is now bridged, so you don't need to bring your snorkel.

The intersection with SC-28 is 14 miles south on 107 from SC-413. This is a twisty route to the north with not much traffic except on weekends in summer. You can ride it all the way to Deal's Gap if you like -- about 98 miles away.

Warwoman Road into Clayton Georgia and points west starts about 10.1 miles north on 28 from 107. There are some good twisty roads off Warwoman.

Fish Hatchery Road is about 2.4 miles south on 107 from 413. This is a twisty road that winds downhill to one of the South Carolina fish hatcheries. You can spend a cool afternoon there touring the facility.

Whitewater Falls, one of the first places I ventured to when I started riding, is a little way north from the eastern end of the Byway, just into North Carolina. The Upper Falls is a short walk from the parking lot. There is another good view of Lake Jocassee from there.

The Bad Creek Pumped Storage facility is a power installation that allows water to be pumped from Lake Jocassee into a reservoir above it in off-peak times of power usage, then allowed to flow back into the lake during peak periods. This is a wonderful method of providing peak electrical power. The level of the reservoir can change as much as 160 feet from full to low pond levels. Because of this, access is denied to the reservoir. Down the access road, there is an overlook on the left side just before a closed gate leading to the powerhouse below. Use caution, as the gate is in a sharp left hand turn. You will get into trouble if you are carrying too much speed just past the overlook. There are numerous tar snakes on this otherwise very good road, that become slippery when wet or hot. The overlook has views of Lake Jocassee, the lower end of the powerhouse tunnels, and of Lower Whitewater Falls.

Also off this road, is a parking area for access to a two mile trail that goes to the 400 foot Lower Whitewater Falls. The Musterground Road also starts in this parking lot and is open only during hunting season, September 15 through January 2, and during the month of April. This road is for four-wheel-drive vehicles and off-road motorcycles only.

The entrance to the Bad Creek facility is though an unmanned automatic gate that will not open for motorcycles, but the gate is usually open on weekends during daylight hours.

There are also numerous nearby opportunities for fishing, hunting, and whitewater runs, especially on the Chattooga River.

Here is a map, from the book Scenic Driving South Carolina showing the locations of some of the places I have written of.

So, is it Wiggington, Wigington, or Wigginton? I believe the correct spelling is Wigington, based on the stone marker at the overlook. Mystery solved.

Happy riding.


Charlie6 said...

good post with lots of good info, thanks.

oh, and we in the rocky mountain states wouldn't snicker....riding is riding, specially if you take the less beaten path....

UpStateBruce said...

UpStateBruce July, 15, 2012 8:55AM
Thanks for the info. My computer has a screen showing a photo taken from the Oscar Wigington Memorial looking SSE across Lake Keowee towards the John C. Calhoun homestead at Clemson U. I also think the Wigington is correct and all the maps showing the Oscar Wigington Memorial Byway show it going up SC - 107 to NC. Not correct.

Bucky said...


The first map in the posting (from an online source: shows the Wigington Byway extending along SC-107 from SC-28 at the south to the North Carolina State line, and including the section between SC107 and SC-130 described in my post.

What do you think is correct?

kent wigington said...

It is only the section of hiway labeled 413 between 107 and 130. Kent Wigington