Led by the Squire of Dark Corner himself – author, columnist, lecturer, photographer, and storyteller Dean Campbell – his experience simultaneously shines a light onto life, the lore and legend of this remarkable area.
Traveling by car and on foot, your journey will take you back more than 250 years to the historic settlement of Gowensville – the oldest settlement in the Dark Corner. From there you will traverse both land and time as you visit historical sites ranging from Revolutionary War forts and battlegrounds to trading posts and early settler home sites and churches. You’ll learn how the Dark Corner earned its name, and come to understand the origins of moonshining and its importance to the region and the nation.
As the tour continues, you will travel along the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway (Highway 11) on your way to stops at Klickety Klack Covered Bridge, the Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve (a National Historic Site), the high earthen dam of Poinsett Reservoir, the restored old Ballenger’s Grist Mill (1820s) on Middle Tyger River and finally Campbell’s Covered Bridge Historic Park (home of the sole-surviving, extant covered bridge in SC). We view and name all peaks in the Glassy to Hogback Mountain range as we conclude the tour back at the origination point.
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The Tour begins at the old Indian Boundary Line, created by treaty with the Lower Cherokee Nation in 1755, in historic Gowensville, SC, the oldest settlement in the Dark Corner. The town is named for John “Buck” Gowen who commanded Gowen’s Fort nearby. A skirmish between patriots and British dragoons and Tories occurred there on July 13, 1780, one of eight that led to the important Battle of Cowpens in early 1781. We will visit the Revolutionary War fort site and travel over portions of Tugaloo Road (widest original Cherokee trail) and other historic roadways. We will view early settler family home sites and the earliest trading post (1756) that are on the National Register of Historic Places. We will visit the sites of the Battle of Earle’s Ford (1780) and the Battle of Round Mountain (1776). We will view and learn of Hogback Mt., tallest peak and most prominent scenic point in the area. As we go, we will discuss how the Dark Corner got its name in 1832, and learn the importance of moonshining, brought to America by early Scots-Irish and borderline England settlers who arrived in Philadelphia and Chester, PA, then came south through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia as part of the Great Wagon Road Pennsylvania Migration. On our return to the departure point for a comfort stop, we will view official Bicentennial sites of Earlesdale, antebellum home of the Rev. Thomas J. Earle, his Gowensville Seminary, and First Baptist Gowensville, which began as a mission arm of Tyger Church in 1809 and was constituted as Cross Roads Baptist Church in 1820. The second leg of the tour takes us west on the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway (SC 11) to visit the 21st Century Klickety Klack Covered Bridge, and view scenic Glassy Rock atop Glassy Mt. (site of Cliffs at Glassy Golf Course, SC’s only mountain top golf course). We turn on the Old State Road, a toll road built in 1820, and climb up Callaham Mt. Road to offload at Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve, a National Historic Site. Built in 1820 of fitted stones (no mortar), it features a 15-foot-high Gothic Arch. It is the oldest standing bridge in SC. After viewing the high earthern dam of Poinsett Reservoir, a project covering 17,000 acres of water and 20,000 acres of watershed, we head to restored old Ballenger’s Grist Mill (1820s) on Middle Tyger River. A 20th Century, private, covered bridge is at the site, but our tour vehicle fords the river exactly the same way the earliest settlers crossed in wagons. The last site we visit is Campbell’s Covered Bridge Historic Park. This 20th Century bridge (1909) is the sole-surviving, extant (still standing on its original site) covered bridge in SC. Measuring 35 feet long and 12 feet wide, it is an excellent example of a four-span Howe truss, featuring diagonal timbers and vertical iron rods. We view and name all peaks in the Glassy to Hogback range as we end the tour back at the departure point, and reiterate that this very elusive area for over 175 years now hosts three exclusives for the state of SC—oldest standing bridge, only extant covered bridge and only mountaintop golf course.
Personal guided tour
For Hire transportation. Transportation provided by tour guide holds a max. of 3 persons plus driver. Can accommodate larger groups in customer vehicle or rental van or bus. Prices available upon request. Please call 864-906-3663.
Full cost of tour will result in cancellations less than 12 hours prior to scheduled tour. Change of date request must be made at least 24 hours prior to scheduled tour and is subject to availability.
Once per day
Meet at the Spinx Gas Station located at 5598 Highway 14, Landrum, SC 29356.
Spinx Gas Station in Landrum.
Booking for [9:30 a.m. Tour] on December 31, 1969
Duration: 2 hours
Sorry, there is no availability left for this option