History & Nature

She’s a block – House!
Oconne Station served the S.C. State Militia from 1792-1799. See it, and lots more at Oconee Station State Park.

A destination with history and natural allure opened on March 1. Get some comfortable walking shoes and a stout hiking stick and head to the northwest corner of the state. In one trip you’ll see 18th and 19th century South Carolina while enjoying spring wildflowers, cool air, low humidity and stunning mountain vistas covered in splendid shades of new-leaf green. Rocks, water and nature. It’s all here.

You’ll see an old military compound, Oconee Station, that became a trading post. See this solid enduring stone blockhouse that the S.C. State Militia used as an outpost from around 1792 to 1799. The blockhouse was built as a haven from Indian attacks. Thirty of the “hardiest and best hunters” defended the blockhouse. See the nearby William Richards House as well.

Here you’ll get a beautiful mix of history, nature and outdoor recreation. A 1.5-mile nature trail connects hikers to a trail leading into Sumter National Forest. The trail ends at Station Cove Falls. Camp at nearby Oconee State Park if you like before summer heat and pesky insects arrive. The park has rustic, Civilian Conservation Corps-era cabins and a lake with a swimming hole. You can rent a canoe and fish. Hike wooded nature trails that wind through the foothills region. Trails connect with the Foothills Trail, South Carolina’s 80-mile wilderness hike on the Blue Ridge Escarpment. One trail connects Oconee Station with Oconee State Park.

Particularly rewarding is the hike to Oconee Station Falls, known also as Station Cove Falls. I hiked it one summer afternoon and though it seemed longer than it is (.7 mile). On a hot day the falls at the end make the effort worth it. I find Oconee Station Falls to be one of the state’s more beautiful falls. The hike takes 25 minutes to half an hour and as you walk you’re moving through a mountain cove forest. Crossing a sandy stream I saw a huge cat-paw print and both bobcat and mountain lion crossed my mind. When you get to the falls, its 60-foot stepped plummet makes you stare. Go on a spring day. Look for wild flowers such as trillium, mayapple, pink lady’s slipper orchids, bloodroot and redbud. Take a picnic lunch and relax at the boulders at the base of the falls.

Take Highway 34 to I-26, on up to S.C. 11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, a treat itself. About three hours and 148 miles will take you to Walhalla. From Walhalla, take S.C. 183 north to S.C. 11. Take S.C. 11 north for two miles. Signs show the way to Oconee Station State Park. Turn left onto Oconee Station Road and follow two miles to Oconee Station.

If You Go …

Oconee Station Historic Site

Admission: Free

Days and Hours of Operation: March 1 to Nov. 30, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily.

Historic structures are open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with guided tours available.

Get more information at www.southcarolinaparks.com/oconeestation/introduction.aspx

For information on Oconee State Park visit www.southcarolinaparks.com/oconee/introduction.aspx

 

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at www.tompoland.net. Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]

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