Poinsett Bridge

A few days ago I revisited historic Poinsett Bridge to see first hand some of the recent improvements made since my previous visit back in 2011, and revisit the bridge and surrounding area. But first, a quick history lesson.

Poinsett Bridge was built in 1820 as part of the State Road from Charleston to Columbia to Greenville to the North Carolina border at Saluda Gap. The bridge is named in honor of Joel R. Poinsett, a prominent citizen and a member of the Board of Public Works at the time. The bridge fell completely out of use in the mid-1950s when the road was straightened to remove some of the sharp curves. The bridge and the surrounding area is now known as the Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve.

The first improvement I noticed from my 2011 visit is the parking area. The parking area now has gravel and has been extended to follow the old road bed back to the main road.
Another noticeable improvement since my last visit are the additions of a crosswalk, sidewalk, fence, and steps.
Nice! I've had trouble in the past finding the parking area and kept having to turn around. Seeing the crosswalk and sign clued me in the parking area was near.

I also heard the bridge has been stabilized (whew!).
I found the date "1820" on the keystone was easier to see this trip, thanks to sunlight angled just right to help bring out the fading numbers. Click on the thumbnail below and see if you find also spot the date.
In researching what other features to visit besides the bridge, I re-read Poinsett Bridge: A Historical Context and Archaeological Survey [in PDF format], an excellent document for learning more about construction and history of Poinsett Bridge and the road it was built for. Because the website the document is hosted on frequently runs rather slow, I've mirrored the document at my Google Drive for your downloading pleasure. I printed out a few select pages from the study to guide me to the features mentioned in the report.

Nearest to the bridge, and down the path that was the old road bed, is a stone culvert where the road passed over a small creek.
Also near the bridge is a possible quarry, where the stone has been cut.
I also took photo of the creek I thought came out well considering I steadied the camera with just my hands.
The study also found more stone has been cut across from Camp Old Indian, but I didn't investigate. There's always next time.
Off to the west, the study examined the remains of a wooden bridge on the old road bed. On the way there, I found another wooden bridge to a house that no longer exists. The sides look like they folded up at one time to allow traffic across the bridge.
The study provides a general location somewhere on the hill, but I was able to get a more precise location by consulting the USGS's 1954 Zirconia map (the left most black square on the map).
Good thing, because the house is gone on their 1959 Zirconia map (no more black square).
The study found no traces of the house, and I didn't bother looking with all the dormant kudzu everywhere.
I did find a hubcap laying in the stream. I'm guessing the owner has stopped looking for it by now.
Besides the blanket of dormant kudzu, thickets also covered the area.  I could deal with the kudzu, but dealing with the thickets got old quick. So I decided the wooden bridge remains could keep until some other day.

I really like the improvements since my last visit. Well done!

I made a map of the Poinsett Bridge area with locations of features and some of the road realignments.

View Poinsett Bridge in a larger map

My photo album of this visit is available on Google Photos.


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