May: A Trip To Saluda

 In WKDK Road Trips

Begin your tour on the Square in historic downtown Newberry. In front of the Old Court House is a granite marker which indicates the distance to neighboring county seats and other places of importance. One of the distances shown is to Edgefield. Today it is two counties over, but, prior to the 1890’s when Saluda, Greenwood and McCormick Counties were formed, Edgefield was our immediate neighbor to the south. Today you would take Highways 121 and 23 through Saluda County to get to Edgefield; however, in the days of ferries and fords, there were at least nine ways to cross into the county below us. We won’t be going that far today.

From the Square, turn left on Nance Street and then right on Boundary Street. Follow it as it merges into Hwy 121. Stay on Hwy 121 through Deadfall Crossroads. On the left, after Deadfall Road, is the Blair Boozer House. Although it has had some recent additions, its massive double-shouldered chimney marks its early nineteenth century origins. Also, on the left is the Werts Hose which was begun in 1896. After Long Farm Road on the left, is the site of the Higgins House. The house was later moved to Lake Murray. The Higgins family operated a ferry across the river, just south of the current bridge. Cross the Saluda River into Saluda County. Originally part of Edgefield County, Saluda County was established in 1895. The name comes from the river which, in turn, is from an Indian word meaning “River of Corn.”

Just beyond Hightower Road on the right is the Coleman House with its impressive portico of Ionic columns. Turn right on Hollywood Road and left on Pine Pleasant Church Road. On the left is another Coleman House, this one sporting Corinthian columns. Down the road on the right is Pine Pleasant Baptist Church. This old brick church was established in 1831 and has a nice cemetery. Under a granite canopy in front of the church is the grave of Luther Rice (1783-1836), a Baptist minister and orator who helped organize the Baptist Church on a national scale, placing an emphasis on foreign missions and education. He was also the first foreign missionary from America to India.

Continue on down the road. This road follows the old road trace closely. Throughout this section of the trip, most of the creeks are tributaries of Big Creek which drains the northeast section of the county into Little Saluda River and Lake Murray. On the right, after the second creek, is a series of channels that may be the site of an old mill.

At the stop sign, turn left onto Zoar Road. “Moo” at the cattle in the green pastures with meandering streams. On the left is Zoar Methodist Church. In the cemetery are many old tombstones and an unusual grave enclosure. Enclosures over family plots were more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They are rarely seen today. At the end of the road, turn right on Hwy 121. (On this side of the river it’s called Newberry Hwy.) Coming into the Town of Saluda, a large concrete barn can be seen to the left. The county sweat was established in 1895 near the center of the new county. It has many beautiful buildings from the turn of the twentieth century.

Turn right on West Butler Street and left on North Calhoun Street. On the right is Mt Pleasant Lutheran Church which was founded in 1903. Turn left on West Church Street. On the left at the corner of Main Street, is a mural depicting the 1755 Treaty of Old Town. Across Main Street on the right is the Saluda County Court House on the public Square. Next door to the court house is the Saluda Museum in an Art Deco theater. (After the Square, the street becomes East Church Street.) At the end of the street is Red Bank Baptist Church which was founded in 1784. Predating the town by over a century, it was named for nearby Red Bank Creek. The present brick church is the third sanctuary to stand on the site and was built in 1911. Turn around and stay on East Church Street. Turn right on North Rudolph Street. On the right is Ramey Funeral Home, which is housed in a turn of the century residence. Turn left on East Butler Street. On the left is St. Paul’s Methodist Church which was founded in 1898. The church was rebuilt in 1917. Turn right on Main Street and then left on Hwy 178 (Greenwood Hwy).

Turn right on Butler Road. (It’s about a mile out of town. If you pass Chapman Road, on the left, you’ve gone too far.) This first section is a true “road trip” road. Fields, forests and pastures are interspersed along an old road trace. This time of year, be on the lookout for Queen Anne’s Lace, Daisies, thistles and ubiquitous orange Daylilies. Yuccas are also in bloom and mark the site of many an old house or cemetery. Cross Hwy 39 onto the same road with better paving. Cross Newberry Hwy. We’re still on Butler Road. Not far after Yarborough Road, bear left on Butler Church Road. On the left is Butler Methodist Church. Founded in 1856, the present church was built in 1947. The land for the church was given by the Butler Family whose home originally stood on the site. The church and cemetery have an amazing view, situated at the top of a hill overlooking the Saluda River valley. Behind the cemetery is the old Butler Family graveyard.

One of the occupants is Behetheland Moore Butler (1766-1856), wife Maj. Gen. William Butler. During the American Revolution, Behetheland Moore lived on a plantation near Saluda Old Town. It was necessary to deliver a message to Captain Wallace who had a band of patriots on the other side of the river. Behetheland, one of her brothers and a friend volunteered to paddle a canoe across the river to deliver the message. This allowed the patriots to avoid an ambush by the British. Her tombstone mentions the incident in passing: “the guile of her sex blended with American Patriotism.”

Get back onto Butler Road. At the end of the road, turn right on Big Creek Road and then left on Denny Hwy (Hwy 194). On the right is an old store building. Cross Big Creek. As you approach Hollywood (at the intersection of Hollywood Road), several of the buildings are still around, including the school and the fire station. Cross Indian Creek. (Not the same one that’s in Newberry County!) On the right is Salem Baptist Church with its cemetery across the road. Turn left on Hwy 395. Cross the Saluda River at Kempson’s Bridge. This was the site of Kempson’s Ferry, which operated into the twentieth century. Stay on Hwy 395 as it becomes Nance Street and return to historic downtown Newberry.