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.

Friday, July 3, 2009

God Bless America

Declaration of Independence
(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Fireworks celebration at church tonight.

May God continue to bless this nation despite our distancing ourselves from Him.