Trip 7--September 27, 2003

Highest Point in South Carolina

Sassafras Mountain

3560 feet (1085 meters) above sea level

Traveling Companions: John May, Greg Robbins, and April Morris
Vehicle: Greg and April's 1996 Ford Escort

Greg and April live in Easley, SC, which strategically located about 25 miles from Sassafras Mountain and about 25 miles from Clemson, where John just happened to be collaborating with a colleague and giving a talk in the Algebra and Discrete Math seminar.

After spending Friday night in downtown Greenville, where the city government has mandadated that the businesses be "cool," our quartet headed to Sassafras Mountain. We had heard that one could see four states from Sassafras Mountain, but as has been my experience with these eastern highpoints, the trees really limit the visibility. There used to be a fire tower on top of the mountain, and I'm sure one could see four states from its top, but it has been torn down. The peak is owned by Duke Power, my electric company, and there are no access issues.

John, April, and Greg stand atop the summit of Sassafras Mountain

I took this picture of the view holding my camera up as high as I could reach.

Greg stands beside the SCGS marker.
Sassafras Mountain is close to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. Unfortunately it tends to rain when Greg goes there, and so we didn't do too much hiking. Moral of the story: Go there, but not with Greg.

But the rain stopped after we left and went to Stumphouse Tunnel. Circa 1850, the government of South Carolina wanted a railroad to connect Charleston with Knoxville, TN. The planned route called called for boring a 5,853-foot tunnel through Stumphouse Mountain. However, funding for the tunnel was cut in 1858, and the workers (mostly German immigrants from the nearby town of Walhalla, which proudly flies the German colors on its streets) downed their picks and put away their black powder having finished only 4,350 feet. One hundred years later, a researcher at Clemson performed experiments in bleu cheese making in the tunnel due to its constant 50°F (10°C) temperature and 90% humidity.

Upper Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern US.

The entrance to Stumphouse Tunnel

However, now the tunnel is open for anyone to walk into, but be sure to bring a flashlight because the tunnel has NO lights except for the vertical shaft to daylight about one-third of the way into the tunnel. At the end you can see (if you bring a light source) that work on the tunnel ended abruptly with steps leading up to drill holes for blasting powder the back wall.

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