table rock state park on Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

Day 68 – South Carolina’s Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

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Day 68 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Stumphouse Tunnel Park

We left Georgia for the northwest part of South Carolina today.  Our first stop along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway was at Stumphouse Tunnel Park to see Issaqueena Falls, a 200 foot cascade.  Unbeknownst to me, the park also featured an unfinished tunnel, hence the name.  The work on Stumphouse Tunnel began in the 1850s to provide railroad passage from Cincinnati, OH to Charleston, SC. 

The granite rock proved a challenge and Irish immigrants were only able to progress 200 feet per month.  As such, funds for the proposed 5,863 foot tunnel were depleted.  Before more funds were acquired, the Civil War commenced, and the tunnel was never completed. 

Due to the tunnel’s interior temperature remaining at a constant 56 degrees with 85% humidity, Clemson University purchased the site in the 1950s to cure blue cheese.  The University used the tunnel for 20 years before duplicating the conditions in air-conditioned cheese ripening rooms.  The tunnel, one of the most visited historic sites in South Carolina, is still owned by Clemson, but is operated by the City of Wahalla.

stumphouse tunnel park on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

Issaqueena Waterfall

After visiting the tunnel, we continued to the waterfall is named for the Muscogee (or Creek) maiden, Issaqueena.   Legend has it that Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokees and renamed Cateechee.  As a young woman, she fell in love with a white trader.  When the Cherokees became upset with the white settlers and planned an attack on the white settlement, Issaqueena rode a pony 96 miles to warn her lover, Allan. 

Issaqueena stayed with Allan, eventually marrying him.  One day the Cherokees tried to recapture her.  Knowing that the Cherokees believed evil spirits lived in the waters, she pretended to leap over the falls, but instead hid beneath a ledge at the top of the falls.

Issaqueena Falls in Stumphouse Tunnel Park

Ellicott Rock Wilderness

After our short walk around the park, we headed north along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway to Ellicott Rock Wilderness and the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery.  I had hoped to take the mutts for a hike, but I did not know if the mileage posted on trail signs were one way or roundtrip. All the mileage was at least 3 miles long and likely twice that, which was too hard for my old mutts. As a result, I decided to go elsewhere. We continued on our way to Table Rock State Park, as we stopped to enjoy some views from the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.

voew from the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

Table Rock State Park

Table Rock State Park is a hiker’s delight, with a choice of several trails ranked from easy to challenging.  We took the two mile Carrick Creek Trail along with countless other hikers who were out enjoying a spectacular day.  I think I wore shorts for the first time in a month!  The trails crisscrossed the creek peppered with a variety of small falls. It was a lovely final outing before heading to Walter’s farm.

Walter’s Farm

From Table Rock State Park, we made the wound up the mountain for the view at Ceasars Head State Park and then turned toward Walter’s farm.  We met up with Walter, an ex-coworker who now practices at Davenport, and his girls, Martha (7) and Virginia (5) around 2:30.  The girls ran over the hill to the shoals of the river as Walter and I drove around the hill to meet them! 

Shortly thereafter, we drove to their lake house in North Carolina where Martha and Virginia helped me walk the dogs.  Martha, a second grader, plays tennis, likes camping, and scored all three’s (that’s the best) on her report card!  Virginia is a keen soccer player. She once scored a goal from the midline!  We kicked the ball around by the dock, and she can boot it. 

Walter’s wife, Cindy, met us around 5, and we enjoyed a wonderful, home cooked meal of salad, potatoes, rolls, roasted cherry tomatoes, tenderloin, and cheesecake. It was DELICIOUS!  It was so nice to see Walter and meet his family.  Thank you, Walter and Cindy. ETB

walter and family

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

Other Articles About South Carolina You May Like

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

2 thoughts on “Day 68 – South Carolina’s Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

  1. what a day ! Cindy, Walter and kids look adorable. Bet it was nice to hang out with them.
    and ….WARM enough for shorts ! …yaaaayyyyy ! ! !
    you’re on the downhill run now. HOME before you blink.
    Happy Thanksgiving….your Mom will be thankful when you’re home soon !
    🙂
    cm

  2. Sounds like you had a fun packed day! Cindy, Walter , Martha & Virginia
    look like so much fun. Darling girls! Miss you tons! xo’s M

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