Family Travel 2012

Nichole Livengood



Animal Adventure: Hunting turtles in downtown Pickens

Posted 10/10/2012 9:31:00 AM

Does your family like a good scavenger hunt? Download a Turtles on the Town map and head to historic downtown Pickens. The city has 12 little shelled friends hiding along their streets waiting for you.

Pickens Middle School teachers Louise Hope and Susan Hilyer told me it was a combination of great minds that inspired this school-wide project, and it took the whole community to make it happen. The school’s sixth graders designed T-shirts and illustrated a coloring book to go along with the Turtles On the Town tour, seventh graders took charge of turtle research, narrowing over 25 native South Carolina turtle species down to 12, and eighth graders put their creative writing skills to work, picked sites and came up with clues for locating the turtles on the brochure.

The women enlisted artist Zan Wells, who created the cute little Mice on Main in downtown Greenville, to design the small statues, and businesses reached out to sponsor the turtles.

The map and brochure lead visitors on a journey from the mountains to the sea as they locate each of the 12 turtles, including red-eared sliders, snapping turtle, musk turtle, diamond back terrapin, painted turtle, and ending with the coastal leatherback sea turtle and the eastern box turtle. During the one hour walking tour you’ll find turtles in a fountain, hanging outside local businesses, tucked into gardens and sitting under trees. The brochure tells you a little about each turtle’s natural habitat, and the students hope people will take a few minutes to ponder how important clean water is to ensuring the survival of each of these species.

“This is definitely an educational field trip,” Hope said. There’s also a historical piece to the tour. Some of the turtles have found homes at important historical places in Pickens like the Hagood-Mauldin House. She told me it’s important for people to think about the place where they are standing during the tour, imagine what it used to be and think about how that relates to them today. “We hope it gives people a better idea of what Pickens is about,” she said.

Don’t just go to see the turtles, make a day of it. Take the walking tour, grab some lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants serving up local fare like Burning Brick Tavern (locals call it “The Brick”) or The Gatehouse and stop in at the incredible Pickens County Museum of Art and History to learn a bit more about the area’s rich cultural heritage.

If you’d like to snag a Turtles On the Town brochure and map, stop in at the new Visitors Center at 111 Court St. or pop into City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Hagood Mauldin House, Pickens County Museum, or any local business. For more information about the tour or the city of Pickens, click here.