Monday, July 25, 2016

Lake Oolenoy day 2: Kayaking on Lake Oolenoy

Table Rock Mountain - 2
I had went up to Lake Oolenoy in Table Rock State Park the previous day, as told in my last post, to try out my inflatable kayak after a visit to Roper House Complex (Camp Oolenoy). A forgotten personal flotation device, and dark ominous clouds and thunder just to the north put an end to that plan. This day I headed back up here the next morning for another try.

Lake Oolenoy is a 67 acre man-made lake, one of two in Table Rock State Park (the other is Pinnacle Lake). The lake was created in the early 1990s by building a dam near the convergence of Carrick Creek and Reeds Run Creek. No motor powered boats, except those with electric trolling motors, are allowed on this lake, making it a good place for a beginner like to me gain experience.

No thunder and no ominous dark clouds were around this time, just some thin stratus. And I had remembered my personal flotation device this time. This time I won't be denied!

The previous day I had the parking lot to myself. This time I did not:
Lake Oolenoy boat ramp parking - 2
A group of supervised kids were gathered on the boat ramp with personal flotation devices and a variety of kayaks staged for entry into the water.
I am not alone
Just after the July 4th holiday, I placed an order with Amazon for this small inflatable kayak, the Intex Challenger K1. At the time, the kayak cost $69 and I took advantage of their free super slow saver shipping since I was in no big hurry to receive it.
Intex Challenger K1
I attended to inflating my kayak while the adults were shepherding the kids into the water. In just a few minutes, my kayak was inflated and ready to go.

I put the air pump behind the seat, and put my bilge pump, sandals, and camera (in a dry bag) in the front storage. I put a phone I use as my media player/navigation device in a waterproof touch friendly pouch and put that around my neck with the included strap.

I grabbed the kayak around the midsection and walked down the ramp past the group still launching their kayaks. I didn't pay them much attention, but I did hear some approving comments.

After launching, I put the dry bag holding my camera into my lap, so I could take it out when I wanted. Like right here:
On the water
I had already watched multiple tutorials on YouTube on the basic paddling strokes, and it didn't take too long to get the hang of it. I also had recently re-read my friend Tom Taylor's visits to the lake so I had a good idea what to expect out here.

I went around the lake counter-clockwise, on the south end for now, exploring the many coves. The young kayakers tended to stay close to the boat ramp and the northern arm of the lake, leaving me mostly alone down here.

The view of Table Rock Mountain is a nice one, and one you can't get from land.
Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain
As I rounded the south end of the lake and began heading north, I found this old road bed that must have been abandoned in the early 1990s when the dam was likely built.
Old road bed - 1
A current map overlaid with a 1978 USGS topo map shows this old road:
As I continued north, I noticed the group was leaving the water:
Group is leaving
Then I came to the two islands I call "Duck Island" and "Duck Poo Island".
Duck Island - 1
I found two ducks (that I had seen yesterday too) hanging out on the island. This island and tiny rock island I call Duck Poo Island were both well covered in duck poo.
Duck Island's residents Duck Poo Island
I cruised along north in no particular hurry toward the S.C. 11 bridge.
Going under the SC 11 bridge Table Rock Mountain - 4
By this time, the stratus clouds were clearing out, allowing the sun to blaze down. I got uncomfortably hot rather quickly. Fortunately, the boat ramp wasn't far away anyway. The kayakers were gone, but not their equipment, so apparently they were going to return.

I managed to get out of the boat and took it back to the car for deflation and storage. I had one more stop to make before heading home though. This is another portion of the old road bed behind the Lake Oolenoy dam. It's abandoned now but still visible.
Old road bed - 2 Old road bed - 3
I found the kayak trip a lot of fun and I'd definitely like to come back here again sometime.

The Intex Challenger K1 best features are its portability and price. The kayak only took a few minutes to inflate, including the seat and foot rest. The portability is great for someone like me who doesn't have the space to store a regular, hard shell kayak.

The interior space is rather tight for someone of my height, especially when including the foot rest. Next time, I may either leave out the foot rest or just partially inflate it. I also wish the paddles were a bit longer. Some water still managed to drip into the kayak even with the drip guards attached to the paddle. Storage space is rather limited, making this kayak not suited for a multi-day expedition.

Several Amazon reviews mention the skeg coming loose while on the water, and recommended taping the skeg permanently to the kayak, or attaching a string to the skeg so it doesn't get lost. On the one I received, the skeg now clicks in (before it just slid in) and seemed rather secure. I actually had a bit of difficulty removing the skeg. I don't think I'll bother taping it.

This certainly isn't the best inflatable kayak you can buy, but for the price I'm very pleased. The Intex K1 will do nicely until I can get a better, faster kayak.

This YouTube video from the Get Out With The Kids channel explains the difference between this kayak and the improvements found in the more expensive inflatable kayaks:
For my main use case, visiting area waterfalls at lakes and rivers, this kayak will do nicely. I had plans to visit a waterfall on Lake Jocassee, but I until the weather cools down some I think not!

My photos are in an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos.

I created this map of the various points of interest around the lake:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lake Oolenoy day 1: Camp Oolenoy

Camp Oolenoy sign - 2
Lake Oolenoy is one of two man-made lakes in Table Rock State Park in northern Pickens County in northwest South Carolina on the south side of Highway 11. A parking area, a pier, and a boat ramp are located on the west side of the lake. Another parking area, a visitors center, primitive campgrounds, another pier, and the Roper House Complex (later Camp Oolenoy) are located on the east side.

Just after the July 4th holiday, I had ordered a small inexpensive inflatable kayak from Amazon, the Intex Challenger K1, along with some other related accessories. The package had finally arrived a few days ago via their free super slow saver shipping and I was ready to take it for a ride.

I selected Lake Oolenoy for several reasons. It's an opportunity to explore more of Table Rock State Park, it's home to the Roper House Complex (later Camp Oolenoy), and because multiple experienced kayakers recommend this lake for beginners like me.

I left much later than I had planned (something came up), and didn't get there until about noon. I decided to explore the east side of the lake first before heading over to the boat ramp on the other side.
Table Rock State Park sign
The visitor's center was the closest place to check out. For some unknown reason, my camera strap got in the way of the second photo.
Table Rock Visitors Center - 1 Table Rock Visitors Center - 2
I was far more interested in the Roper House Complex, later becoming Camp Oolenoy.

The land around here and what's now under Lake Oolenoy once belonged to the Roper family. The Roper House was built in 1856, then expanded and remodeled in 1937 with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps crew constructing Table Rock State Park.
Roper House - 1 Roper House - 4
The owner of the house in 1937, Manning Roper, was an assistant foreman and later the first superintendant of Table Rock State Park until his death in 1944.

Elizabeth Ellison, a school teacher, bought the property in 1952, naming the site Camp Oolenoy.
Camp Oolenoy sign
Camp Oolenoy became a destination for 7th grade students at Greenville Junior High School to study conservation. During the summer months, Camp Oolenoy became a private camp for students ages 7-11.
Camp Oolenoy signboard - 1
The Roper family chicken coop was remodeled and repurposed as a cabin for boys.
Camp Oolenoy boys cabin Camp Oolenoy boys cabin - 2
The old Roper family garage became the arts and crafts cabin.
Camp Oolenoy arts and crafts cabin - 2
The Roper family smokehouse was also repurposed.
Camp Oolenoy Smoke House
In 1990, Elizabeth Ellison donated the land to state of South Carolina while retaining the right to live on the property. She died January 1, 2004. A copy of her obituary can be found at FindAGrave.

I found this October 1952 photo of her leading a group of children on the Facebook page belonging to the National Archives at Fort Worth.
You will find a cropped version of this photo (cropped from the red box in the photo) on this signboard near the Roper House:
Camp Oolenoy signboard - 5
Of course I had to make a composite of this, so I made one using Photoshop Elements 8 (yes this version is outdated, I know):
Camp Oolenoy composite
I took several photos to use as background here, but they ended up being too close to the house. The present day photo is from the following day where I shot from a greater distance, then cropped to get as close to the correct alignment as possible.

The Roper House Complex / Camp Oolenoy site joined the National Register in 1989.
Roper House historic marker
I summarized the history of the Roper House Complex from the nomination form.

With the historical part of the trip done, it was now time to head to the west side of the lake to paddle the lake. When I got there, I discovered I forgotten to pack my pfd. Then it began to thunder.
Lake Oolenoy storm clouds
This day's paddle was just not meant to be. I couldn't risk a paddle on the lake, but that's fine I would just try again tomorrow!

The rest of my photos from this trip are in an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos.

I created this map to show the lake and its points of interest:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Road to Glendale

Glendale Mill Dam - 02
Glendale is a mill village a few miles east of Spartanburg, South Carolina by Lawsons Fork Creek in Spartanburg County. The center of village life once centered around Glendale Mill, a mill with a long history dating back to the 1830s. However, in 1961 the mill closed permanently, and in 2004 a fire turned the mill into ruins.

Before visiting Glendale a few days ago, I had a few stops to make first along the way.

This income tax business at 1450 Union Street on the southeast side of Spartanburg...
Lyman Depot - 3
was once the Lyman Depot, moved here from the town of Lyman in 1981. As an archived story from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal explains, Peggy West and her husband bought the depot from Seaboard Coastline Railroad in 1981. They had the depot moved to this spot, and turned it into a craft shop. M&M Tax Service now owns and operates the building.

The Lyman sign, mentioned in the story, and seen here in this photo by John Jones from the Lyman page of, no longer hangs off the rear of the building.
Behind an Ingles grocery store off Country Club Road is a railroad trestle over an abandoned railroad right-of-way.
Southern Railway  Company 1924
The railroad that once passed underneath this bridge was an electric trolley line that traveled to Glendale, then north up to Clifton. The trolley line was discontinued in April 1935 due to declining use. It's replacement was a bus system.

The railroad branched off from an Norfolk Southern railroad line, dating from 1849, that once headed into downtown Spartanburg. This line has first cut back to Henry Street, then to here at Country Club Road. The abandoned line between Country Club Road and Henry Street is now the Mary Black Rail Trail, although a small part of the line remains for use as railroad car storage for a few hundred feet.

I parked at the trailhead, located off Country Club Road very near the Ingles mentioned above, and found the adjoining track loaded with rail cars.
Mary Black Rail Trail - 05
As I walked the trail, I noticed several cute, eye catching activities designed for kids.
Mary Black Rail Trail - 07 Mary Black Rail Trail - 08 Mary Black Rail Trail - 09 Mary Black Rail Trail - 11
I like this!

I also spotted a long abandoned old spur.
Mary Black Rail Trail - 18
Soon enough, I made it to my stopping point, the street just beyond this mile marker...
Mary Black Rail Trail - 20
and turned back.

This time, I payed more attention to the rail cars parked on what is now a spur.
Golden cat Well NS
Please wash your hands Rusty wheel
Continuing on toward Glendale, I made a quick stop on Avondale Drive off Country Club Road to trace more of the Glendale Clifton trolley line. I used a 1921 soil map of Spartanburg County to help me with this task.

Here the road is divided. The trolley line ran down the middle according to the 1921 soil map.
Abandoned Glendale Clifton ROW - 02
An electric line still runs between the two roads here as it did when the trolley came through here, but of course serve a much different purpose now.

I also stopped at the end of Trolley Car Way (love the name!) where the line continued on a short distance before bending north toward Glendale.
Abandoned Glendale Clifton ROW - 04
Glendale still has a small post office, located in the former mill store.  Right by the post office is a parking area to access the trail head.
Glendale Mill Store - 1
One business remains, Lawson Fork Auto, located in the old gymnasium.
Glendale Mill gymnasium - 1
The old mill office is occupied by Wofford College, and now called The Goodall Environmental Studies Center.
Glendale Mill Office - 1 Glendale Mill Office - 2
The old truss bridge no longer carries traffic, but you can still walk on it, and so I did.
Glendale Mill Dam bridge - 01 Glendale Mill Dam bridge - 05
On the other side of the bridge is the Glendale Shoals Preserve, where there's a nice view of the dam.
Glendale Mill Dam - 02
A sandy trail stays close to the creekside. The trail then bows away from the creek past a picnic area...
Picnic Shelter
A short connector trail heads up to a parking area off Edna Cudd Road. The main trail bends back close to the creek again, with a view of a waterfall just upstream.
Glendale Shoals waterfall - 2
The trail continues on close to the creek, before ending at the border of private property.

I made my way back over the bridge and down Glendale Shoals Trail to explore the area around the mill ruins.
Ampitheater Path into garden
After Glendale Mill  shutdown in 1961, the mill changed owners several times for use as warehouse space. On March 20, 2004, any hope of reviving the mill as the center of the community came to an end when the entire mill burned down.

Photographer Terry Gilmer  took photos of the fire, and shared this one...
... and nine more viewable on the Mill Fire page at website, a fantastic source of information about the Glendale Mill and the mill town.

Kudzu is starting to claim parts of the ruins.
Glendale Mill ruins - 02
Scorch marks are still plainly visible in other parts.
Glendale Mill ruins - 19
I could see walking the trail where some ruins looked different than the rest, as if the mill expanded over the years.
Glendale Mill ruins - 17
That turned out to be true. While reading over after I got back home, I found this annotated 1945 Birds Eye View labeling when each section of the mill was built. Fantastic!

The trail took me past the east end of the mill ruins...
Glendale Mill ruins - 09
and continued on, staying near the creek now. The trail eventually reaches private property and ends. I headed back and went up the connector trail to the Glendale Greenway.
Glendale Shoals Trail - 05
The Glendale Greenway trail, at least in this section, follows the abandoned Glendale Clifton trolley line right of way. I managed to disturb a cat, probably belonging to residents of some nearby home.
Glendale Greenway - 01
The trail here is relatively flat, with some sections on a fill, and other sections in a cut. Solid evidence this a railroad once went through here (even without a 1921 soil map showing this to be so)!

I continued on until the trail ended at Wheeling Circle road, just around the bend from this trailhead.
Glendale Greenway - 04
On the way back, I noticed the many sewer hole covers. Most were generic covers, but this one was more interesting than the rest with the words "Glendale Mill" and 1951 on the cover:
Glendale Mills sewer line cover
As I walked back toward the mill ruins on Glendale Greenway trail...
Glendale Mill ruins - 12
...I noticed what a set of steps leading to a fence.
Stone steps to old house
My curiosity aroused, I wondered what rated these steps. A peek through the fence yielded my answer, this old, beautiful, decaying, vacant home.
Bivings-Converse House
When I got home later, I found out this is the Bivins-Converse house, home of the original mill owner James Bivins, and is listed in the National Register.

Having completed the loop, I headed for home, but not before one last photo of this distant water tower I spotted just before leaving:
Glendale water tower

This visit featured an abandoned railroad line, an old mill, an old bridge, a small waterfall, and nature trails. Any one of those would be worth a visit on its own for me, but I got them all in one place! Later research also shows there's a few more points of interest worth investigating, making the probability of my return almost certain.

I took a lot of photos this trip, and they're shared in an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos. I've also tweaked my Abandoned Railroads: South Carolina map to account for the new information I gathered this visit.

Thanks to Mary McKinney Teaster, and her contributors, for all the wonderful information on her website If you're interested in the mill and the town, I highly recommend visiting this site.

Update: I forgot my adventure loving friend Tom Taylor had visited Glendale a few months ago. He visited some areas around the mill not on my agenda this visit.