Civil War History and Piedmont Forest on the Palmetto Trail
Volunteer conservationists were hard at work on the Palmetto Trail Peak to Prosperity Passage. Many of them have a keen interest in history as well as a love of nature. Charles Weber is one of them and we stopped to talk a moment. He pointed to the trail in the direction we were headed and asked if we could see the union army general coming towards us in the distance. The general and his staff officers were on horseback. There were people following on foot, a little distance apart. These people were eager to follow the Union Army to freedom.
The way Charles Weber said it made the Civil War scene come to life.
It was a beautiful day when Eddie and I, friends Dwight and Jennifer Bundrick, set out on our bikes on the Palmetto Trail, Peak to Prosperity Passage. The weather was perfect, 61°F, a beautiful sunny South Carolina spring day. The round-trip distance from the Alston Trailhead near Peak, SC to the end of the passage is 21.6 miles, considered an easy walk or ride. Over the course of the trip, the elevation changes very little, just less than 300 ft. There are patches of small rocks, especially from Pomaria Trailhead to the end of the passage near Prosperity. Although the Palmetto Trail website recommends a dirt bike, our street bikes with hybrid tires were easy enough. Next time I’ll remove the fancy street additions, basket, and other accessories. Our friends had shock absorbers on their bikes and they thought it made their ride a little smoother.
We timed our ride so that we would arrive at the Pomaria Trailhead at lunch time, just over half way.
After calling ahead, we knew that Wilson’s Grocery would be open and serving their delicious hamburgers. Maybe it was the energy we’d burned, but everyone agreed that it was the best hamburgers we’d ever tasted! No, it wasn’t just that we were hungry, they really were the best! The store reminded Eddie of the small grocery where he worked during his teens, Campbell’s Grocery in Elgin, SC, open for over 50 years but closed now. Small country stores like these are getting more rare but this one had all the good stuff that country dwellers in the south grew up eating…bologna, souse meat, liver pudding, fatback, ham hocks, and pickled eggs.
During the Carolina’s Campaign, the union army under General Sherman marched 425 miles in 50 days from Savanna, GA. though the Carolina’s, destroying everything of military value, a strategy known as total war. Sherman divided 60, 000 forces into two wings. They covered a lot of ground along the way paying particular attention to the destruction of rail lines. An invention by Sherman’s Chief Engineer, O.M. Poe, the cant hook, allowed the soldiers to twist heated rail lines into a shape that would render them beyond repair. The destroyed rail became famously known as Sherman’s Neckties. Visitors to the trail can see the original pilings of the Broad River Bridge that were destroyed during the Civil War. This bridge, like others may also have been destroyed by Confederate troops to deny passage.
The Peak to Prosperity Passage is filled with the scenic beauty of the Piedmont forests.
See magnificent views of the Broad River from the spectacular 1,100 foot long bridge. Meander through swamp lands, forests, and Crims Creek on the gravel trails and wooden trestles located throughout the passage. Stop for views and a picnic at handy structures provided by the Boy Scouts. Listen to the guided audio tour on Palmetto Trails, Peak to Prosperity to learn about the history, flora, and fauna of the area.