Day 68 – South Carolina’s Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

We left Georgia for the northwest portion of South Carolina today.  Our first stop 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 Cincinatti, 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.

The pleasant waterfall is named for a Muscogee (or Creek) maiden named 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.  The Cherokees became upset with the white settlers and planned an attack on the white settlement.  Upon hearing the plan, 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 spirit lived in the waters, she pretended to leap over the falls, but instead hid beneath a ledge at the top of the falls until it was safe.

After our short walk around the park, we entered Ellicott Rock Wilderness via the Walhalla National Fish Hatchery to go for a longer hike.  Without knowing if any of the trails in the area were loops with only the mileage posted on the nearby signs, I decided to go elsewhere as all the trails were over three miles long.  On our way to Table Rock State Park, we stopped at an overlook to take in the magnificent view.

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 others 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.

After our walk, we made the winding drive up the mountain to Ceasars Head State Park just to see the view, but we opted out of hiking the trails as we wanted to get to 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 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: salad, potatoes, rolls, roasted cherry tomatoes, tenderloin, and cheesecake – DELICIOUS!  It was so nice to see Walter and meet his family.  Thank you, Walter and Cindy.

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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 !

  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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