Our first lesson....bright orange, tiger paws and purple are the desired attire (people, businesses, you name it). Even many of the sidewalks had orange tiger paws lining their paths. Next observation, students camp out on the Clemson University campus in tents for over a week (trading their tent positions with fellow students so they can attend their classes), all in the quest to attain the almighty Football tickets (Clemson University Football, which by the way, this year is ranked #3 in the Nation). We witnessed hundreds of tents and most seemed to be having a good time with this adventure.
We, however, were not there to get tickets. We went to Clemson University to see both their Botanical Gardens and also visit Fort Hill.
The South Carolina Botanical Gardens, located on Clemson University grounds is quite amazing. What began in 1958 as a small Camellia reserve has grown to over 295 acres of both natural and landscaped trails. Some of the gardens had sustained some serious flood damage but there was still lots to see, including the Bob Campbell Geology museum.
In this museum was an extensive collection of both minerals and fossils of the area and also the only saber-toothed cat exhibit in the Southeast ( technically known as a Smilodon). The museum housed many fossils that are millions of years old (sort of difficult to get your arms around, you think?). We show, on this blog, just a couple of pictures of many that were in the museum.
The gardens had many unusual plants and we were amazed at how successful their cactus display was in an area that gets a fair amount of rainfall. Teri particularly liked the 'Black Magic' plant with its very large and dark, almost black leaves.
On the Clemson University campus is also Fort Hill, the home to our 7th Vice President in the US, John Calhoun. He was Vice President under both John Quincy Adams and also Andrew Jackson. Citing political differences with Andrew Jackson, he would become the first Vice President in the US to resign from being Vice President. After resigning, he returned to South Carolina to fill a vacant Senate seat.
The home, originally built as a 4 room house in 1803, was later named Fort Hill (after Fort Rutledge) when the Calhoun family, in 1825, moved in. The Calhoun Family would eventually enlarge the house to 14 rooms and this would become an 1100 acre working Cotton Plantation. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
We found the furnishings in the home to be more plain in design than some other historic homes we have been in. The tubs were interesting, in how their design allowed one to sit on the edge with the water flowing back in when one would rinse. Also of note, was that the plantation homes we visited here seemed to all have changing rooms, all of which were only used by the females in the home.
Next we visited an old general store. The England's Store, began operation in 1908 in Westminster SC. The General Store Museum is set up like the original general store and houses the remaining original contents of England’s General Merchandise Store.
Lots of detail to look at. Few pictures do not give it justice. The visit was both interesting and fun.
Walhalla began as a settlement of German immigrates, (all arriving in the US on the same ship). We began our Walhalla visit at the Oconee Heritage Center. Housed in the 1892 tobacco factory the Oconee Heritage Center is a museum with many Oconee County artifacts. The museum did a good job of explaining the Civil War time history of the area, the very slow process of rights for blacks, and the history filled with Carpetbaggers, and Scalawags (whites supporting the reconstitution ideas of the Carpetbaggers). There were lots of things to see in this museum. We found the Shoe Fitting Fluoroscope particularly interesting as we had not seen one of these prior.
The Shoe Fitting Fluoroscope was used from the 30's - 50's. One would put their feet in the machine wearing the shoes they were trying on. They would look through the viewing ports to see an x-ray of their feet in the shoes to determine if the fit was correct. Of course, eventually, the safety of this was questioned and the practice was abandoned.
Still in the Walhalla area, we were off to Stumphouse tunnel. The Stumphouse tunnel, had it been completed, would have been 1.1 miles long. The tunnel, one of 3, was begun in 1852 by the railroad as an attempt to connect Charleston to Knoxville and eventually Cincinnati. Built by Irish immigrant workers living in Tunnel Town, the entire tunnel was built by hand with the use of black powder placed into holes that were hammered into the granite (no dynamite was used). Many people died in the construction and it is said that the top of the tunnel is a burial ground for those workers killed, with only piles of rocks to mark each grave. Lack of funds, and the war prevented the completion. Only 1,617 feet of the 1.1 miles was ever completed. During the 50's-70's Clemson University used the tunnel to grow blue cheese. The tunnel is a constant 50 degrees year round, and it was discovered to be the perfect temperature and humidity for this purpose. In the 70's, however, the University duplicated this environment on their campus grounds and moved their Blue Cheese production. We, via flashlight, walked the inside of the incomplete tunnel that was cool, dark and had much water leaking through the granite walls.
On the same grounds as the Stumphouse tunnel is the Issaqueena Falls, a beautiful 200 foot cascade. Legend (very abbreviated) is that a Cherokee maiden, Issaqueena who feel in love with a white man, Allan Francis warned the white men of an impending attack. To escape capture and punishment from her own tribe she fled and made it look like she jumped into the waterfall. Her tribe believed that the waterfall was filled with evil spirits and left her for dead. She would eventually marry Allan Francis and raise a family with him.
Also in the Wahalla area is Oconee Station consisting of a Military Outpost, known as the Blockhouse(1792-1799) built to guard against attacks by the Cherokee Indians and also the Indian Trading Post (1795-1809). This Blockhouse was the last one in South Carolina to be decommissioned. The trading post, built in 1805, is believed to be the first brick built house in the Northwest corner of the state.
In Seneca we went to the Oconee Nuclear site and also toured Duke Energy's World of Energy education center. The center has various interactive displays and basically takes the visitor through Duke Energy's various energy capturing methods, including water, coal, solar, wind and nuclear. The displays are well done and work hard to gain acceptance of their nuclear plant in the community. And the rest of the story, not told on our rosy tour can be read about at the following link. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-radford/will-repairs-to-the-ocone_b_3208859.html
We went to Pendleton to go on the Woodburn Plantation ruins tour which is a hike through the remains of the outbuildings and lands on the Woodburn Plantation. We were the only ones on the tour and our tour guide, a young college student was energetic and knowledgeable. While the ruins tour was very interesting, at the end, our guide surprised us by offering us a very personalized tour through the house and also through the various other buildings on the property including the carriage house, cook house and slave/tenant cabin. This was truly one of the best tours we have been on. Our guide was so knowledgeable and shared so many details and was willing to talk and share with us as long as we wished.
We learned about how the house was built mainly to be a summer getaway from the Charleston heat. We saw what are known as jib windows (1/2 window, 1/2 French door) that provided access out to the piazzas. The Master bed was interesting too. If you look at the top where the material is gathered, there are two layers of material, one layer is mosquito netting and the other layer when dropped is pure silk to help hold in the heat in cold weather for those sleeping in the bed. Our guide also shared much about the renovation process. One such thing is how the structure is wood and muslin would be put on the wood to then put the wall paper on top of. According to our guide there are few in the world that know how to employ this technique. Also explained was how the house was meant to be a casual get away for the wealthy family. On those occasions when formal attire was needed, the young boy's French outfit was common as a dress up attire for their son. In the slave quarters we were shown how there was a very small rafters area, where the slaves slept(above a very small living area (maybe 6' X6') as heat rises and this made for a warmer place to sleep. There was so much information shared and once again it was a great surprise to get this personalized tour through the house as well.
We are headed to Atlanta, GA for a week to participate in a RV rally. There will be lots of fellow campers to meet, various classes to attend, vendors and entertainment too including the Beach Boys, Vince Gill and the Vogues. It should be a lot of fun and educational too.
Clemson: SC Botanical Gardens, plant
called 'Black Magic'
Clemson: Smilodon at
Bob Campbell Geology Museum.
Clemson: Sea Scorpion
420 Million years old (like Wow!)
49 million years old
(notice it is their living area as well).
Anna Marie Calhoun and Thomas Clemson
were married here on 11/13/1838
(wall Paper and chair rather modern for the day)
on the right is a 'hat bathtub"
The hat bathtub, one would sit on the edge
and the water would drain back into the tub.
Westminster: Cash Register at the England's General Store
the Oconee Heritage Center
(common in this area)