Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saluda North Carolina -- a Tag Grabbed, and More

April 2, 2011, about a month ago.

I had to find it.  What?  Another tag by Stretch in the CarolinaRiders Forum Tag Game.  Recall that Stretch is a pretty good one at posting tags that are interesting and somewhat difficult to findAnd here is another one Stretch posted.  I have prided myself in finding a few of his tags, but this one looked quite interesting to me because of my engineering background.

It is an old waterwheel, and his clues were are follows: 
"Here's a tough one.  The Carolina mountains are covered with old water wheels. What makes this one unique is its proximity to the water.  Bonus points if you can tell me how it worked.
"If you ride down a road in NC with 21 hairpins in about 2 miles (there's only one), you'll find the new tag about 11 miles from the last hairpin turn."
One of the other inmates [members] on the forum posted this:
"Can I ask questions?
"For instance; can I find this road with "21 curves in about 2 miles out of Saluda, NC?"
Stretch replied:
"It may be near Saluda. I'm having a little trouble remembering just now .
"On the return trip I recommend passing the unnecessarily twisty road and taking the next right instead. I find it a more enjoyable ride and it will return you to the same town, whatever that town may be."
...and provided a couple more clues: 
"When a group of businessmen from Spartanburg, SC needed more power for their mills, they bought land in NC to build two dams. This mill wheel is near one of the two resulting lakes but predates Dam.
"Look for a road named after a famous Golfer."
Well, one cerebral part of motorcycling is to figure out clues like this.

I am sure the twisty road Stretch is referring to is the most contorted piece of civil engineering I know of around here, Green River Cove Road.  I tested out a downhill rear-braking technique here last year, but I don't like the road much because the turns are very sharp, and visibility of oncoming traffic is poor.

I carefully map out another eleven miles from the last (lowest elevation) turn on that road, and find that it is beyond the northeastern end of the road, so I must have to go one way or the other after that.  I looked up waterwheel, but found nothing close.  Well, the only golfer I know of besides Tiger Woods is Arnold Palmer (being the sportsman I am), so I try Palmer Road.  There is one up that way. We'll see if the clues will lead me to the right spot. 

I finish up a Google map, print it, slide it into my tank bag, and head out.  It is 42 degrees, so I bundle up a bit, but not too much, as it is supposed to reach about 70 later. 

I go north on SC-135, then SC-186, US-276, SC-11, US-25, and turn off on the Greenville Watershed Road.  This is a moderately twisty road that winds its way uphill through a watershed for a reservoir from which the city of Greenville gets some of its drinking water.  There is no stopping allowed along this road to help prevent water pollution in the lake.  The road is used extensively by bicyclists, so you have to be careful, since some of them ride in the middle of the lane, it is slow going for them going uphill, and there are blind curves in some places.  The pavement has become rather poor, with lots of cracks and potholes.  It is pleasant enough road nonetheless, but the posted speed limit is probably the most prudent way to travel here.

View Larger Map of the Greenville Watershed Roads

Soon enough, I reach the town of Saluda.  I park, and go right over to the M. A. Pace General Store to visit Mr. Robert Pace, son of the original owner who opened the store in 1899.  He is getting up in age now, so I want to say hello to him once again.  Each time I have come through here on the bike, I have stopped, and every time, for some unknown reason, Mr. Pace has commented on the fact that I look like I just stepped out of a spaceship.  Strange, don't you think? 

Here is a clear view of his store from my parking spot.  

I walk over to the front door.  Sadly, I find a sign that says he passed away in his sleep last October at the age of eighty-seven.

His last few years were spent meeting visitors and explaining the history of the business, the steep railroad grade that crests here, and of Saluda itself.  That seems like a good close to a life here on earth. 

Even though it has been several months since he left this world, the stock in his store is as it was.  Only the refrigerated items have been removed.  The ancient stock of dry goods remains, as do the more modern items. 
Those are boxes of new old stock shirts, and shoes on the shelves to the right. 

Mr Pace was a former insurance and real estate broker, and a 1945 graduate of Wofford College. He served on many committees and boards that were instrumental in bringing business to the area.

Here is a picture of Mr. Pace I took in April of 2010.
Although I did not know him well, I will miss him. I had hoped to be able to shake his hand just once more. 

I walk down the surprisingly busy street -- after all it is a beautiful day to be out in the mountains -- to the offices of Saluda Realty and Construction.  I find Mrs. Eargle sitting outside in a rocker with her dog leashed nearby.  I speak with both, pet one of the two on the head (guess which one), then inquire of Mr. Eargle's whereabouts.  I venture inside the office where I am directed, and find him at work at his desk.  As soon as he turns, he flashes a huge grin, and says he remembers me from my last visit.  I am flattered.  Maybe the clothes are the reason he recognized me. It had worked with Mr. Pace, didn't it?  Or maybe Mr. Eargle is just one of those fellows who remembers everyone he meets.  He seems to be genuine, not put on, in his treatment of others.

We chewed the fat for a few minutes.  Mr. Eargle told me the story of the old Thompson’s Store and Ward’s Grill (referred to in my earlier posting and pictured below).

A gentleman named Clark Thompson now owns the store and grill, and writes a blog called Saluda Memories.  Mr. Thompson was born and raised here, but went away to college and to work elsewhere.  He returned in 2010 to keep the spirit and nostalgia of the Old Store and Grill alive.  Mr. Eargle's construction company has been restoring the structures. 

After I leave Mr. Eargle's office, I give their dog a little more attention, then survey the remainder of the main street, and saddle up again.  I want to get that waterwheel tag before anyone else does.

Off I go, leaving Saluda (at Pushpin "A") toward the northeast, Interstate 26 (Pushpin "B"), and beyond.

View Larger Map

I could take the first left after 26, Green River Cove Road, the contorted one that Stretch referred to in his clues, but straight ahead, Holbert Cove Road, is more uniformly twisty, with none of those very tight turns all packed together.  And it ends up in almost the same spot.  The road has recently been tar and chip surfaced, so it exhibits a uniformly good grip with no potholes or cracks.  The work must have been done long enough ago that the loose stone has all dissipated, so I cruise along smartly.  The only thing is that there are few advisory speed signs, so it is difficult to know whether there is a decreasing-radius turn or some other hazard lurking somewhere ahead.

After about 9-1/2 miles on Holbert Cove, I reach Silver Creek Road (Pushpin "C") and make a left.  I pass this end of Green River Cove Road, then after 1.7 miles from where I turned onto Silver Creek, I see Palmer Road to the left and Lake Adger Road to the right (Pushpin "D").  I take Palmer Road and begin watching closely for my target.  I come across it, in about 1.2 miles, on the right.

Here it is, at Pushpin "E": 
35°19'42.49"N   82°15'9.72"W
The waterwheel is an example of an overshot style.
Types of waterwheels are described on this website.  

The source of the water was Bright's Creek a bit upgrade -- toward the left in the picture above.

Up a steep slope from my parking place, there is a corrugated steel pipe, shown below, that directed water from upstream to the top of the wheel, probably pouring onto the wheel from a wooden flume, now gone. 

Water exited the wheel through a cut or culvert just in front of my bike, joining the nearby creek across the little gravel driveway here.

The wheel has a large bull gear on the side that engaged a much smaller pinion, providing an increase in RPM to drive a generator.

There may have been a mechanism to govern the flow of water to maintain the correct voltage and/or frequency. (You electrical engineers: Was this likely to be a DC or AC generator?) If you want to do a few calculations on the power provided by waterwheels, here is a website to help. 

This photo shows the pipe at left-center, upstream of the wheel, at the entrance to Bright's Creek, an upscale golf development with a Tom Fazio-designed course.  (Now I know another golf-related name besides Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer.)  
Wherever the pipe connected with the creek upstream must have been some distance away judging from the height of the pipe versus the creek bed beneath the bridge.  I couldn't follow the likely path of the pipe any further because the golf development is gated, and I'm not a resident.  That's OK, they pay just a bit more than I do for a place the live -- lots start at $200,000 each, so a little extra privacy is their privilege. 

A little waterwheel history:
The waterwheel was installed in the 1950s by Dr. Marion C. Palmer, landowner and lover of gadgets, according to an account written in 2003, found on the Tryon [NC] High School class of 1971 website. (Search for "water-wheel".) The story speaks of the lady of the household, Mrs. Palmer, having to tell the tenant farm family to turn off their lights so she could use her electric iron. That leads me to think the output of the waterwheel was around 1000 watts, or about 9 amperes at 110 volts. Commercial electricity reached this area in 1962, with telephone service following.

A view of the area.  

Well, it is pretty country here, but I have to get back, so I retrace my path back to Saluda on Palmer Road,...

...Silver Creek, and Holbert Cove Roads, then head west on US-176.  There are a couple of tight turns on this last road, one in front of a quarry entrance.  That one can be treacherous due to spilled gravel. 

I turn south on US-25, then veer off onto Gap Creek Road, hit SC-11, then SC-8, SC-135, and home to Easley.  The complete trip map is shown here:

View Larger Map

I don't rush, but I also don't tarry on my way back home.  After all, I have to post the tag grab photo before someone else does. 

By the way, if you remember, Stretch challenged the tag grabber to describe how the waterwheel worked.  I think I get the extra credit for doing so.  (Whew, I'm glad that those four years of engineering school weren't wasted after all.) 

Once at home, I rush to the computer, post my photo, and I can now lay claim to bragging rights, at least until someone finds the new tag that I have posted. 

I have ridden 147 miles today, in beautiful weather, looking at natural scenery and an engineering project not quite as old as I am.  You can't beat a day like this.  Thanks Stretch for providing an interesting tag in a beautiful part of the country.

Oh, here's the new tag I posted.  See if you can find it. 

"This bridge spans a small river.
The river has something to do with twelve miles, and it must be tired -- as it needs to lay.
The bridge is not far from woodside two.
If you go further on the road you will find Elfwing and Magic Mountain, both centrally located."

If you go:



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