Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sights South of Spartanburg

On Saturday, May 12, I set out in a new direction.  I had looked at the map and found Croft State Park, one I had not visited.  It is located southeast of Spartanburg, a fairly large town east of where I live.  I used Google Maps to find a non-superslab route to get there, then transferred the route to my GPS

I start out from the house in sixty-degree, overcast weather.  In fact, it sprinkles a little bit, but I go anyway, since I have not been out to ride for a couple of weeks.  I, generally speaking, won't melt if I get wet anyway. 

The first major metropolis I enter is the town of Fountain Inn.  A quick foray down the main street reveals a restaurant with the name Bucky's Barbecue.  Must be a good place, I conclude, with name like that!
It was started a dozen years ago by Wayne Preston and now has four locations.  I don't have time today to eat here, but I'll put it on the list of places to visit again.

After I leave Fountain Inn, and as I am cruising along on SC-418, I cross a concrete bridge over the Enoree River, entering Laurens County (at Pushpin "B" on this map.)   I spot a rocky area beneath the bridge and on either side, and stop for a better look.

It turns out that this place is called Van Patton Shoals, and it varies in appearance depending on the river flow.  It has been dry lately, so there is a lot of visible rock and not much water.  What there is, creates several little waterfalls.  bearden82 has a nice sequence of photos here on Panoramio.

In the distance, stands one remaining span of a Pratt through-truss bridge.  It provides a picturesque part of the view from here.  It isn't much more than that, since there is no deck left on it, and the other span is long gone. 

The bridge is on private land owned by the Wilburns.  It was once owned by Duke Power and there was a dam here as well.  Here is another picture of the far side of the old bridge:
by bearden82
The highway bridge is in the background.

The Google Satellite image of the shoals looks like this:

View Larger Map

The highway bridge is to the southwest of the uppermost 418 marker on the map.  The shoals are directly beneath the bridge.  The old bridge is to the northwest of that highway marker. 

Once I have drunk in the views from here, and a few miles further along, I spot a church with some activity going on.  This is Emmanuel Baptist Church of Roebuck, SC.  They have recently constructed a prayer garden here, with various displays of Biblical history and an element of patriotism as well.  The fence is draped with bunting, there are military vehicles parked nearby, and folding chairs galore set up in front of a stage.  It is the day of dedication for the garden, and later they will have speakers and music for the occasion.

We need more respect for God and country these days, certainly.  

I saddle up and leave Roebuck, to find more roads like those I have already ridden -- mostly straight -- with hardly any curves that might qualify even as sweepers.  The route thus far has certainly not been challenging. 

I come upon Glenn Springs, little more than a crossroads, but with some interesting history.  Here you see the circa 1900 post office on the left, and Calvary Episcopal Church across the road on the right.  The latter building was erected in 1897. 

The church entrance. 

Granite fence posts that will last just about forever. 

Cates' Store, circa 1885, is across Boys Home Road from the post office.

In 1825, John B. Glenn bought the land here and opened an inn.  A mineral spring took its name from Mr. Glenn.  His inn was so popular that in 1835, stock was sold to help build a large hotel on the land.  The hotel was known for its elegance and comforts as well as its healing water.
Picture postcard
A colorful history of Glenn Springs can be found here.  : 

Small cabins and a bottling facility were also built around the inn.  In 1941, the hotel burned, and was not rebuilt. At one point near the turn of the century, there was a railroad that took patrons from Roebuck, then called Becka, to the inn.

A pavilion near the mineral springs is located on the property of the Spartanburg Boys Home, now known as the Glenn Springs Academy, just down Boys Home Road from the post office. 

You can take a hike, or ride your bicycle (but NOT your motorcycle!) through the nearby woods on the newly developed, seven-mile Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail, and see some of the ruins of this once "queen of the southern summer resorts."

There is a Presbyterian Church building called the old stone church in the woods near the Boys Home that is being restored, and several other structures in various states of repair stand nearby. 

The twenty or so buildings spread over ninety acres is a South Carolina Department of Archives and History historic district.  Other info about the Glenn Springs Preservation Society, and Calvary Church / Glenn Springs historical markers can be found at these links. 

I head onward to my goal today, Croft State Park.  I follow the path that Google maps found and that I downloaded to my GPS by my earlier-documented method.  When I get closer to the park, the road loses its painted center line, and gets narrower.  Oh, oh.  I might not be headed toward the park entrance. 

Sure enough, the pavement ends, and gravel begins.  Now, I have not shied away from gravel in the past, and this is nice and smooth.  There are no washboard sections, not much loose stone, and no tight curves. 

I continue on as my GPS directs.  At one point, it says to turn left, but the road it directs me to is barely visible -- more a path than anything else.  Unfortunately, Google doesn't have a feature to avoid gravel and dirt roads, so the route transferred to my GPS doesn't know any better.  Well, maybe my GPS does: Since passing the dirt trail, the GPS voice has now begun to proclaim that I am to "navigate off-road." 

Fortunately, the gravel road looks like it continues on.  As it turns out, the gravel extends between the two Pushpins on this map.

View Larger Map
The "road" that Google wanted me to use to get to Croft State Park starts at the circle on the map above.  The dirt road probably gets there, but I am not going to risk it. 

At least the gravel doesn't get any worse, so I continue until I again reach pavement.  The park entrance is nowhere to be found, however.  I search the GPS points of interest to find it and set out.  Soon enough I do, and go in.  The park road is about three miles in to Croft Lake. There is a boat ramp and a campground, both crowded. 

I turn back toward the park entrance, and stop beneath a huge old oak tree at a picnic shelter.  It must be several hundred years old.  I take a few snapshots of this picturesque sight.  [Yes, both the tree and the bike are picturesque.]  This spot is called the Twin Oaks picnic area. 

The park has an interesting history.  It was a training facility called Camp Croft, a WWII Army Infantry Replacement Center.  There are some good descriptions and photographs of the camp at that link. 

The park covers more than seven thousand acres of rolling, wooded terrain. The park offers twelve miles of biking and hiking trails, a playground, picnicking and camping, as well as fishing and boating in one of two lakes.

Horseback riding is also popular at Croft. The park regularly hosts shows in its arena and boasts more than twenty miles of equestrian trails.  Today, the campground is filled with many horse trailers. 

The weather is starting to cloud up, so I set my GPS to start out toward home.  It directs me through Spartanburg, and on to I-85.  This route is quick, but not too enjoyable. 

Here is the route I took to get to Croft State Park today:  

View Larger Map
Don't forget about the gravel section that doesn't go to the park. 

The weather held out until after I was safely home.  In fact, I had a few minutes to practice some low speed maneuvers before I put the bike away today.  I have traveled 178 miles to some new places of interest -- south of Spartanburg. 


1 comment:

brismith said...

Another great route! Hope to bump into you at the store someday. Regards, Brian