Looking for the Key Part II: The Road There

the-road2

It was a welcome contrast to the gauntlet of winding gravel road that wove its way through the dark and green tunnel of doom I had passed through. Not only was it gloomy but it seemed to  threaten to feed me to the old  rusted bridge suspended over the creek far below.

For the most part, the forestry service road appears to be reasonably maintained, scraped by dozers, trees held back by selective cutting and vegetation kept at bay with periodic controlled burns. The relative ease of navigation should not be allowed to lull one into overconfidence; rough spots require the driver to be keenly observant and patient.

Sandy dirt with a light mix of gravel was packed from recent traffic and rain. Said rain also resulted in sections of washboard soil; the forest corsets the road like a 19th century lady and the shoulder melts some 5-10 feet into the forest floor.  Travel too fast and one might find themself looking at the ground upside down. A bit further on, there is a puddle. A big puddle. Muddy and who knows how deep it goes? Might a catfish or two survive there? Surely crawfish would. Fortunately the road is wider here with room to ease slightly to the side and slowly splash one’s way through the ghastly murky depths. Which turned out to be a only couple of inches or so.

The road changes fairly frequently, but again, navigation is relatively easy for the careful driver. It narrows, then spreads out, the shoulder frequently melts to a dropoff of several feet in a few places,  then becomes more level with the sides of the road, and there are a couple of slight hills and curves.

After a bit of rolling on, an open meadow peeks through the pines. There in the center stands a massive tree, branches reaching to the heavens.
the-meadow

Having an fondness for trees, I parked the car to take in the serenity of this space so open to the sun and sky. A closer look reveals this to be a cluster of trees. I don’t know what kind. But it was magnificent.

Two smaller trees trailed behind the glorious tree, looking for all the world as if following their elder to an ENT moot.  They were moving too quickly for me to get a clear photo of them. 😉

Wandering around the edges of the meadow, this friendly little one showed its colors to me.


Returning to my vehicle, I moved on. There were places deep and dim in the woods that seemed to resent passing tourists. There were sunny places with grass that seemed as welcoming as the sun and blue sky.

The road continued forward and I along with it.

After traversing some 2 miles into the forest, the road ended in a turnaround. I had reached my destination. Now, to get to the business of meeting my self challenge…..find the homesite and to pay my respect in the cemeteries of Henry Key and the slaves that had lived and died there so very long ago.

to be continued…..

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Where the pavement ends

Today’s little jaunt into the Carolina Countryside took the boys (K9s) and me through peach country near Trenton SC. Being the history buff, I had to turn around, pull off the road and snap a shot of a historical marker. This put me back near Edgefield SC.
Fully intending to keep the ride short and sweet and head back home, I instead found myself tempted by that which I was saving for another ride on another day.
Old Stage Road.
One of the oldest roads in the area and a very historical place. During the Revolutionary War a skirmish or small battle was fought at or near Horne Creek. Nearby stands the historic Horne Creek Baptist Church, incorporated 1790 and rumored to be haunted.
Just outside of Edgefield SC, the road begins as a paved and unpainted country road. It winds through open pastures, past homes, what looks like an old large house advertised as a Christmas Tree farm and an unexpected breathtaking vista that would make you think you’re in the foothills of the mountains. Not much farther and the pavement ends. The road narrows to one lane and heads down a long incline.
Standing at the top of the hill, that old history buff gene teased my brain and thinking “why not?” I decided to go a little way down the road. After all, one can always find somewhere to turn around if the going gets too rough, right? Mmm hmmm.
The road itself was scary enough to deter any haints wanting to hang around: rough, having had something like crush and run rocks laid down. The rocks were larger and frighteningly sharp looking in places. Ruts, pot holes and erosion demanded slow going. Heaven help someone meeting oncoming traffic though by the looks of it, the lane isn’t heavily traveled.
The dirt lane parts the hostile vegetation in its campaign to conceal the old wagon road under a carpet of green. It is perhaps, not unlike a creek that briefly parted two armies in their skirmish over it two centuries ago.

An old sunken road bed runs parallel to the road for a short distance, barely visible in the late afternoon light. Despite the growth and the tough drive, the area has a cheery air about it.

The road meandered and took its time showing me its secrets. There was an old bridge over Tobler’s creek. The road lifted from the creek bottom, and there was the church on the left. It’s fenced and locked at the gate. It seemed different, bigger, than I expected from the photos I’ve seen. It’s right beside the road, the cemetery on the opposite side. Just beyond, the road slips down to Horns creek.
Somewhere nearby at this spot way back in the Carolina forests a hot battle took place.
I was unable to stop for photos of the church due to the lateness of the hour, but I did pass and wave at the caretaker, who I would love to chat with. Oh well, that leaves something to do on another Sunday Drive.
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Darby, Edgefield SC

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Darby, Edgefield SC

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Where the pavement ends and terror begins

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Christmas Tree Farm

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Tobler Creek Bridge. The bridge over Horn Creek is much the same. Near this spot the British and Americans fought some 200+ years ago. It was a loss for the British.