Ellicott's Rock

The other day I was looking over one of my topo maps and I saw written in small text, "Ellicott Rock." So I think to myself, "That sounds like something. Maybe I should check it out." There are several ways to get to Ellicott's Rock, one of which is a four mile hike along the Chatooga River. Considering that the Chatooga is a beautiful river (and that the presence of banjo picking hillbillies is way overstated) that's the route I took. Along the way there were a couple of signs indicating I was indeed heading the right direction but nothing explaining what Ellicott's Rock is. I assumed I would find some sort of large boulder at the top of a knob with a cool view of the river. Well at one point, I looked at the time and realized I should be there at any moment but nothing indicated that I was climbing or that the terrain was about to lead me to something different. About two minutes later I arrived at a sign that said "Ellicot Rock." Oddly though, the sign pointed straight into the river. Puzzled, I ate lunch at a nearby campsite and headed home where my good pal Google was able to shed some light on the issue for me. (The image to the left above is not Ellicott's Rock. It's located on a side trail to Spoonauger falls.)

If I had done my research ahead of time, I would have discovered that Ellicot's Rock is the point at which North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina converge. It was named after Andrew Ellicot a surveyor who was hired in 1811 to determine the border between Georgia and North Carolina. I'll let Wikipedia tell the rest of the story:

Two years later commissioners representing South Carolina and North Carolina marked a large rock along the the Chattooga River bank with the inscription "Lat 35 AD 1813 NC + S.C." as the juncture where the South Carolina and North Carolina state lines joined. The rock marked by the S.C. and N.C. commissioners in 1813, rather than the rock marked by Ellicott in 1811, is usually called Ellicott's Rock. This is commonly accepted as the point where the boundary lines of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia join.

There are two versions in print on the distance between the two rocks. One is that Ellicott's original rock was 500 ft upstream.[1] In the other story, the rocks are much closer. De Hart's South Carolina Trails guide said that they are a "few feet apart."[2] In the North Carolina trail guide, he said Commissioner Rock is "ten feet downstream".[3]

This rock was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is located in Ellicott Rock Wilderness. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has additional information,[4] and copies of the nomination forms.[5]

(Image from Wikipedia.)

Although I missed out on the destination, the journey was fantastic (and if given a choice between the two, that's how I prefer it).

Click here for an on-line trail map to Ellicott's Rock.

UPDATE: (9/8/09)

Return to Ellicott's Rock.  This past weekend I returned with my friends Tim and Nathan. We had trouble finding the "N G" pictured above but we do think we found the USGS benchmark on a boulder in the middle of the river.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay I finally found it, only because there was another guy there who showed me where to look. You have to jump down to the river and hang onto the rhodos while trying not to fall in to see the initials.

Distance from downtown Greenville to trailhead: 66 miles.

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Stumphouse Tunnel - Ghost Hunting on Christmas Eve

Stumphouse Tunnel is a failed engineering feat leftover from the mid-19th century. The tunnel was to be part of a rail line that ran from Charleston to Ohio. Landslides caused the project to be abandoned in 1859, but it's now open to the public.

The tunnel is dark and a bit creepy especially on a rainy afternoon. Be sure to take a good flashlight and watch out for the ghosts. They're not hard to locate. The tunnel is supposedly haunted by Cherokee indians and former tunnel workers. It's rumored that if you toss a ball in the tunnel at night, it will be tossed back to you. (That's a fairly convenient rumor since the place closes at 5:00 making it difficult to test.)

My flashlight went dead as soon as I entered the tunnel so I went back to the car to grab a headlamp and more batteries for my Maglight. Even with both lights, it was very difficult to see inside the tunnel.

As you can see from the image below, I managed to capture some interesting apparitions in the tunnel. I believe this is what ghost hunters often refer to as "ectoplasma," otherwise known as a camera flash reflecting on fog. (Click on the image for a larger view.) The pentagram graffiti would be a bit more convincing if the pseudo-satanists hadn't painted it upside down.

I also managed to capture a number "ghostly orbs" as they are referred to over at GhostWeb.com otherwise known as a camera flash reflecting on raindrops. But this, combined with the eery echoes (a.k.a. moans), will certainly satisfy any true believing ghost hunter.

While there be sure to check out Issaqueena Falls.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 51 miles.

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Charles Bunion

Charles Bunion is a large rock offering a magnificent view of the Smoky Mountains. It is accessible via the Appalachian Trail. The quickest route to Charlie is from Hwy 441 at Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It's a five mile hike one way.

If you enjoy this blog, you might enjoy Ron Rash's latest novel Serena. The story is a fascinating drama that takes place in many of the places mentioned here.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 123 miles.

Map to trailhead at Newfound Gap.

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Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

Distance from downtown Greenville: 92 miles

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Natty Greene's

Natty Greene's pub is located on Elm St. in Greensboro, NC just a couple of blocks from the Woolworth's store made infamous by the 1960 sit-ins. The pub is named after Nathaniel Greene, the revolutionary war general that Greensboro and (most likely) Greenville, are named for.

Natty Greene's has three levels located in a refurbished brick building. They offer some of the finest microbrews in the Carolinas. Personally, I think they should open a second location here in the West End.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 190 miles

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Walk Across America Part Deux

Keep an eye out for this guy Upstate.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that B. J. Hill was in Greenville on his walk from California to Boston. Another fellow who is making the same trek, although in reverse, is Skip Potts. Skip is walking from Boston to California to raise money for education. He's currently in the upstate, having just spent the weekend in Greenville. He's making a documentary of the trip and this morning I was fortunate enough to meet his cameraman. He goes by the name Freeland on the web so I'll just call him by that name here. Freeland is maintaining a blog of the trip which is a damn good read. With his storytelling skills as a writer I have no doubt that the documentary will turn out well. Skip is maintaining a blog as well. Check them out, and if you like what they're doing, send them a few bucks.

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The Art Bomb

Located in the township of West Greenville, the Art Bomb is a funky building housing several artists studios. This weekend is a great time to check it out as part of the Open Studios tour. Not only can you check out the Bomb, but there are several other studios within walking distance that will be open Saturday from 10-6 and Sunday from 12-6. You can download maps of all the studios open this weekend here: Greenville Open Studios

While at the Bomb be sure to check out my favorite artist.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 1 mile

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The Thirsty Monk

This is one of my favorite new places in Asheville. It's across the street from one of my other favorite places, Jack of the Wood. But unlike Jack of the Wood, which offers their locally made microbrew, the Thirsty Monk specializes in Belgian Beers. They are so serious about it that each beer is served in a special glass designed for each beer style. They've also recently opened a bar upstairs featuring American craft beers. Although they don't offer wine, they have several Belgians that will appeal to the wine connoisseur.

The Asheville Beer Blog has an excellent review of the Monk.

And here's a podcast about the Monk.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 62 miles.

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NC Nature Center

The North Carolina Nature Center is basically a small zoo featuring animals that are (or at least once were) found in western North Carolina, including bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, foxes, wolves, owls, golden eagles, red tailed hawks, etc.

A Greenville Zoo membership will get you into the nature center for free.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 67 miles.

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Get Mavericky

This Sunday, Tina Fey impersonator (and future Fox News guest host) Sarah Palin will be sending the McCain campaign into further nosedive by appearing at the Asheville Civic Center. I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform there years ago and I have no doubt Palin will offer just as many laughs.

The Alaska governor is scheduled to appear Sunday evening at the Asheville Civic Center, according to the McCain campaign. Free tickets to the event will be available from 4-8 p.m. today at the Asheville Victory '08 headquarters, 16 Regent Park Blvd., according to the Buncombe County GOP Web site. Tickets will also be available at McCain campaign headquarters in Bryson City, Boone and Hickory.

So if empty pandering and talk radio cliches are your thing, get your tickets early.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 61 miles.

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North Carolina Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum contains a large variety of gardens and trails.

A bonzai garden is one of the current features.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 55 miles.

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Wedge Brewery

Wedge Brewery is a great new pub located in the River Arts District of Asheville. When you drive into the parking lot you might think you're in the wrong place. You might even think this is all a practical joke, but check it out.

The customer area of the pub itself is smaller than my living room but they serve several craft brews. The brewmaster was previously the brewmaster for Green Man Ales, found at another of my favorite places, Jack of the Wood. The only beer I can vouch for so far is the Golem, as it's the only one I had a chance to try, but it's an excellent elixir.

And while there you can check out several artist's studios in the area. Much like West Greenvillle, the River Arts District is a repressed area of Asheville that is being revitalized by local artists.

Wedge Brewery Podcast

Distance from downtown Greenville: 63 miles.

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Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve

This bridge, located in northern Greenville county, was built by Joel Poinsett in 1820. In addition to being one of the earliest settlers of Greenville, Poinsett also discovered the Poinsettia flower.

Supposedly the bridge is haunted by an old slave who was hung from it, a laborer who died building the bridge and by an indian tribe. Yet again, I witnessed no ghosts, but my wife's camera went dead as soon as she tried to photograph it. Hmmmm.....(Mine worked fine.)

Distance from downtown Greenville: 39 miles.

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Walk America 2008

This guy walked in front of my car today at the corner of Pine Knoll and Wade Hampton as I was stopped at the light, so I looked up his website to see what it was all about. Apparently he's walking from San Francisco to Massachusetts. From his website:

I'm BJ Hill. I am a 32 year old teacher who is walking from San Francisco back home to Massachusetts. I carry a notebook with me, and ask people I meet along the way to write a message to the next President of the United States. I hope to give these thoughts, concerns, and ideas directly to the president after he is elected in November.

So keep an eye out for him. This reminds me of a great book A Walk Across America as well as John Muir's 1000 Mile Walk to the Gulf.

His route:

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Riverbanks Zoo

Should you decide to head to Columbia to take your family to the Riverbanks Zoo, you might consider running by the Greenville Zoo first and purchasing a yearly family pass. The pass will not only get you and your family into the Greenville Zoo for a year, but it will also get you free passes to the much larger Riverbanks Zoo, as well as a number of other zoos. For a family of four, the yearly membership will cover the price of admission for one trip to the Riverbanks Zoo so it's well worth it.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 101 miles

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Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

A nice place for hiking or horseback riding, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 141 miles.

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Blue Ridge Brewery

(Image from BR's website.)

Greenville's only brewpub has several new seasonal selections which are worth checking out. I stopped in recently to check out their Black Honey Imperial Elixir Stout after reading about it on the Asheville Beer Blog. It definitely lives up to the hype. While there, Jay the brewmaster was kind enough to offer me samples of his Pilsner and Oktoberfest as well. Both were also excellent.

It's a good month for Jay. He's also featured on the front page of the current issue of Southern Brew News.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles.

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Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area of Northern Greenville can now be accessed via a 2.4 mile trail starting in Jones Gap State Park.

Despite the drought, there is still nice water flow over the falls, although several of the smaller creeks and falls nearby are dry. To get there, take the Jones Gap trail for about three quarters of a mile and when it splits take the red trail to the right.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 25 miles.

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Obama Rally in Asheville, NC Sunday Oct 5th

Assuming you can find gas between here and Asheville (which is hard to do at the moment) here's a day trip worth considering this weekend.

"Obama is holding a campaign rally in Asheville Sunday. The rally, called 'Change We Need With Barack Obama,' takes place at Asheville High School’s Memorial Stadium. Gates open at noon and the rally is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m." More from Blue Ridge Now

And if you missed the VP debate Thursday, here's a condensed transcript.

Biden: McCain’s policies are no different than George Bush’s policies.

Palin: Darn right…things are bad…McCain is voice of change…by golly…gee whiz…I’m an outsider…voted for the war before you voted against it… Well heckfire I may not answer the questions the way you want me to, or any question I don’t want to answer for that matter, but I’m going to pretend I am…this great country…soccer games…kids…did I mention my special needs child and gee willikers ain’t I cute…Say it ain't so Joe, can I call you Joe...I still don’t know who the heck Fannie and Freddie are but they sound like good folk…so be a good American and vote for me, Joe Six Pack …maverick, maverick, maverick, maverick, maverick, maverick…

More on Palin’s appeal to the base:
Plain Folks
Glittering Generalities

Distance from downtown Greenville: 63 miles

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Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is primarily accessible via the Skyline Drive, which is sort of like the Blue Ridge Parkway except there is a fee to access it. If you want to see wildlife, this is the place to see it. The deer are so friendly they sit within a few feet of the trails. The bear are also abundant but a bit more shy..fortunately. If you want a good meal and a good beer check out Big Meadows Lodge or Skyland Resort.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 400 miles

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Panther Creek Falls

Panther Creek Falls, located just a few miles from Tallulah Gorge makes for a great easy little hike. The trail follows Panther Creek passing several smaller falls along the way. There are also several great campsites located by the creek. Following the trail past the falls is also a nice but much more strenuous.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 82 Miles

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Clingman's Dome

Clingman's Dome is the second highest peak east of the Mississippi (next to Mt. Mitchell) and the highest peak in Tennessee. Located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you can drive within a half mile of the lookout tower at the summit, although that half mile is a doozy. If you would like a little more scenery and solitude on the way up, the Appalachian Trail runs just below the lookout. (I started at Indian Gap, six miles north on the AT, and found it to be a beautiful section.) This is also the beginning of North Carolina's Mountain's to Sea trail. There are a couple of shelters within 2-4 miles available for camping although, one of them (Mt. Collins shelter) is currently closed due to "aggressive bear activity."

On the way out of the park I was fortunate enough to see two elk, a rare sighting in this part of the country.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 129

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