South Carolina Backroads Adventure
Back Roads of South Carolina
We're at King's Mountain State Park. Where is that? It's just off I-85 in the northern part of the state, minutes from North Carolina. http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/park-finder/state-park/945.aspx It's also adjacent to King's Mountain National Military Park. Kings' Mountain is the site of a major Patriot victory in the American Revolution, sometimes called "the first Civil War.â€ http://usparks.about.com/library/miniplanner/blkingsmountainnmp.htm The state park has camping, hiking, fishing, and a living history farm. We're staying for $17 a night – a good price. We have water and electricity at our site. Bathrooms are clean and modern, with showers. We're about to enjoy our grilled chicken, potato, and beans dinner, cooked over our campfire, with fruit salad for desert. Wildflowers -white dogwood, pink wood geraniums, and violet violets- are blooming, the sky is blue, the trees offer shade, and the air is warm. Birds call; we hear the hoot of an owl, the coo of the mourning dove, and the whippoorwill of the whippoorwill. Life is good.
Late, we hear the howls of wolves or coyotes!
Hot, strong coffee by the fire! Then bacon, eggs, and toast sizzling on the grill. It smelled good and tasted wonderful! Grapefruit finished the meal. We were awake and ready for the day!
First, a trip to the King's Mountain National Military Park to see the museum, watch the video, and hike the battle trail. We always enjoy the video, because we always learn something new. I teach American History; I learned that Major Ferguson, in the British Army, had a chance to shoot George Washington, and didn't. That would have changed history for certain! We enjoyed the museum! The walls were made to look like the woods, and there were several motion sensitive recorded messages among the exhibits. Walking the battle trail was an experience. We walked where the patriots did in the Battle of King's Mountain in October, 1780. This battle changed the course of history by soundly defeating the British! Markers along the walk helped bring the story to life. The pathway is paved but does climb uphill. Monuments at the top of the mountain commemorated both the Patriot Army and Maj. Ferguson, a hero in the eyes of the British. The Military Park was free! That certainlay makes it wallet friendly. Allow two hours, at least.
A quick trip to the town of Gaffney for some forgotten supplies brought us to the Gaffney House, a log house built by the town founder in 1804. It was a discovery! Going off the trails is fun! http://www.sciway.net/city/gaffney.html
At the Food Lion in Blacksburg, on the way back, we found wood for $2.99 a bundle. Excellent!
Back in the park, we hiked around one side of Lake Crawford, and found a charming dam and some lovely scenery. There is an old banquet hall with notices posted that hornets have taken over, so we steered clear! One or two other short but pretty hikes, and we were getting damp from the rain. Time to retreat to the shelter of the tent.
Once the rain slowed, we built up of fire and cooked supper: burgers, onions, and mushrooms, all grilled. Very tasty! A couple of pickles and some cole slaw, and we had a feast! The state park has a nominal charge for day use. Picnic grounds, playgrounds, boating, fishing, hiking, and equestrian trails!
There aren't any touristy places or activities in the area, making this a good off the trails destination. It's quiet, not expensive, and not crowded!
Rain, rain, rain . . . and more rain. We decided to have breakfast in Blacksburg at the Flying J, where it was dry.
Then we stopped at the Living History Farm to look around. On weekends, costumed people are on hand to explain how farm life was in the early 1800s. We saw the house, barn, smokehouse, corn crib, well, privy and other out buildings. The fields had been plowed, and the herb garden was growing well.
Afterwards, we rented a john boat, and went out onto Lake York to explore and fish. The lake is very pretty, surrounded by a symphony of dogwood, azaleas, maple, pine, oak, and arbor vitae. We were lucky with the fishing. Greg caught one bass and several sunfish, so we're having fresh fish tonight! Add some potatoes and cole slaw, and we'll eat well. Greg filleted the fish, so it's really a homemade meal. We feel like the pioneers who used to live here. While on the lake, we also saw Canadian Geese, mallards, an eagle, and several birds and turtles. The current was fairly strong, so it was a hard paddle to get back, but worth the effort.
After a light lunch, we explored part of the King's Mountain Trail. In total, it's 16 miles, an all day hike. Since we only started at 4:00, we hiked about 1 ½ miles in and then returned. It's a good hike, with lots of forest and just enough of a workout.
The rain is gone! Breakfast in camp was coffee, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and cheese with toast and bacon. Yummy!
Fortified, we drove to Brattonsville, a historic plantation near McConnell. http://chmuseums.org/brattonsville/ It was a find! William Bratton was a Scotch-Irish immigrant who built a house in the 1760s, raised 8 children, and fought in the American Revolution. He was instrumental in winning the Battle of Huck, an important colonial victory leading to the Battle of King's Mountain, and ultimately, the Battle of Yorktown! He added to his landholdings, building several dependencies, and raising livestock and cotton. One of his sons, John, built another house in the 1820s, raised 14 children, and continued to add to the estate. At one point, the family owned 139 slaves. They were considerably wealthy! The home is furnished as it would be in the 1840s, showing the high status the family held. Touring the site, we saw barns, corn cribs, a smoke house, slave quarters, the ruins of a store, and an original backwoods cabin William might have built as a starter home. Brattonsville holds many events during the year, as we learned from the video. Revolutionary War re-enactments, Civil War re-enactments, sheep shearing, and Children's Day are some. If you've see the movie "The Patriotâ€ starring Mel Gibson, you might recognize the buildings. This was one of the sets for the movie! Belgian Draft Horses, Ossabaw Island Pigs, and other prized breeds are raised on the working farm. For a $6 per person admission fee, this was well worth the price. On weekends, costumed interpreters are on hand to demonstrate life in the mid 1800s! Allow at least 2 hours. Picnic facilities are available. There is a very nice gift shop with pottery, toys, foods, and much more.
We then headed to historic York, the White Rose City, founded in 1785. http://www.yorkcitysc.com/AboutYork.aspx The downtown area is picturesque, and there are some beautiful antebellum homes. A historic tour showcases many, many sites. The monument in front of the Courthouse claims that many historic men have passed through town, including Jefferson Davis at the end of the War Between the States. Brattons lived in town at the time and offered him hospitality. Give yourself at least an hour to wander.
Mc Connell is another town in the area built during the late 1700s.
We stopped in Blacksburg to get groceries and wood for the campfire at the Food Lion. The other supermarket in town is Piggy Wiggly. http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/blacksburgsc/
Back in King's Mountain State Park, we ventured into the Sourwood Nature Trail. It was a longer hike than we expected, but pleasantly so. The scenery was handsome, and there were some ponds and creeks. We enjoyed the lower body workout climbing uphill and down.
At campsite, we grilled pork chops, apples, and sweet potatoes. Quite delicious! A hearty supper after a busy day! As the sun set, we relaxed by the fire, keeping the chill away and enjoying our panoramic view.