Visiting the Upstate
this winter? I’ve got a great little side excursion to add to your itinerary. Take a driving tour of four cool bridges along the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.
If you’re coming off Interstate 26, your first stop will be Campbell’s Covered Bridge in the small rural town of Gowensville. Built in 1909, it is the sole-surviving covered bridge in South Carolina.
The pine structure measures 35 feet long and 12 feet wide and features a four-span Howe truss system with diagonal timbers and vertical iron rods. Permanently closed to traffic in 1980, it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Today, the covered bridge serves as the centerpiece of a passive park where visitors can picnic, toss a Frisbee and dip their feet into Beaverdam Creek.
Up the road is the Klickety-Klack Bridge, the handiwork of two guys and a tractor named “Old Blue.” In full view of motorists driving along the Cherokee Foothills Byway, the wood structure spans a wide drainage expanse next to the driveway that leads to Look Away Farms.
Owner Don Spann recruited his buddy Troy Coffey to help him build the covered bridge in 2000 as a gift to the Dark Corner area of upper Greenville County. Spann designed the intricate pattern of beams, rafters and vertical supports that ensures the integrity of the structure.
To create a nostalgic feel, he set the floor timbers of the bridge in a scattered pattern resulting in the namesake “klickety-klack” sound you hear when you drive your car over them.
Feel free to walk through the pedestrian pass way or drive your car over the bridge, circling around the asphalt roadway back to the scenic highway.
Up next is Ballenger’s Covered Bridge, a privately owned wooden bridge with a tin roof. Spanning a south prong of the Middle Tyger River, the late 20th century structure sits near a restored mill originally built in the 1820s by Lewis H. Dickey, the largest landowner in the area.
Visitors are welcome to drive through the picturesque property and cross the bridge.
Last up is the historic Poinsett Bridge, the oldest bridge in South Carolina. Built in 1820 of locally quarried stone, it was one of three bridges on the Old State Road, a toll road from Charleston to Asheville, N.C.
The bridge features stepped parapet sidewalls and a graceful 15-foot Gothic arch over Little Gap Creek, a small tributary of the North Saluda River.
To download a brochure with directions to each of the four bridges, click here