Memories of Echo Valley

Echo Valley from the Ridge

In the northern part of Greenville County the Middle Saluda River flows across a long flat valley. Where Highways 276 and 11 come together, and where the Saluda crosses this road, one finds the community of Cleveland, South Carolina. The valley now hosts a post office, convenience store, and a couple of other businesses, but at one time an exciting amusement park occupied this same spot.

It was the late 1960’s and I was seven or eight years old. Dad and Mom loaded five of us (my two oldest siblings were in college) into the Chrysler and we headed toward the Great Smokey Mountains. It was a fantastic trip up through the mountains of North Carolina, with stops at Pisgah National Forest, Maggie Valley, and eventually Gatlinburg, Tennessee. That was the trip that we visited Echo Valley, a Western-styled theme park along the banks of the Saluda River in Cleveland, South Carolina.

Echo Valley Ticket

During this time Western theme parks were all the rage in North Carolina. There was Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, Frontierland in Cherokee, and Tweetsie Railroad in Boone. Most of these featured a Wild West town with regular shoot-outs and the endless conflicts between cowboys and Indians. There were also carnival rides and can-can dancers to round out the bill. Echo Valley followed this same pattern, and was developed to capture some of that Wild West market for Greenville audiences.

The late Melvin Jarrard was postmaster of the Cleveland post office and a local businessman. In his autobiography The Mountaineer of Cleveland, South Carolina, Jarrad describes how Harry Stuart brought the idea of Echo Valley to the area, and how that idea had originated with Ghost Town in the Sky. Continue reading “Memories of Echo Valley”

Family Haunts

Road to the Home Place

I have always enjoyed looking at the photos of Scott West (South Carolina’s Northern Kingdom). Scott and I seem to cover some of the same territory in Laurens County, and I’ve always admired his gutsy trespassing to get great shots of the interiors of old abandoned houses and interesting places.

Recently, Scott posted a couple of pictures of the old Poole Homestead in the Long Branch Community of Laurens County. I immediately recognized the place as being in one of the old photos my Dad has. After a couple of message exchanges it turns out that we do have some distant family connections (don’t ALL Southerners?) and that some of his family had attended Long Branch Pentecostal Holiness, where my father had pastored years ago.

That brings us to this Tuesday. My mother had taken a trip to visit her sisters in North Carolina, so my Dad was on his own for the week. Since I was on spring break, I decided to head down and hang out with him, and see if I could find this photo of the Poole Homestead. I did find it, and we decided to take a tour of some of the old family haunts throughout Newberry and Laurens Counties.

Continue reading “Family Haunts”

The End of an Era

Last night I finally pulled the plug on our old AOL account.  It had served us well for over twelve years, but it was time to part company.  When we got DSL in our current house about six years ago we had scaled back to just the bare minimum AOL service, just in case of emergency or if we found ourselves in a hotel without Internet access.  Now I’m not sure we even own a computer with a modem to even access the service, so it just didn’t make sense anymore.  With Blackberries and smart phones, we can have access even when wifi isn’t available.  I plan to take what we’re saving in monthly fees for AOL and use them for expanded web access plans on our phones.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten that we still had an AOL account.  That’s how little I had paid attention to it.  AOL certainly didn’t make it easy to find a way to cancel the service.  With the dial-up interface no longer an option, and I had to go to their website and spend some time searching, but I finally found it.  As I pulled the plug on the service last night, I began to reflect on my online history, not just with AOL, but with other service I have used. Continue reading “The End of an Era”

A Question of Ancestry

Over the weekend I signed up for a free two-week trial of Ancestry.com. I guess I fell prey to their recent marketing campaign, which shows users discovering new things about their families as “leaves” appear on their family tree. I had already amassed quite a bit of data on our family, so I was curious to see if I could add to my list.

It has been several years since I’ve done any serious research on our family’s history. Even then I’ve been more of a collector than actual researcher, depending upon the prior research of several cousins and some nice folks that I’ve met online, such as Dan Ellenburg in Pittsburg, with his excellent website on the Ellenberg family. By using several sources I’ve found some conflicting data, and have had to do some verification before merging various data sets. I figured that would also be the case with Ancestry.com, and I was certainly right. Continue reading “A Question of Ancestry”

That’s LIFE

Google has partnered with Time/LIFE to make a massive collection of images available online through the Google Image Search funtcion. The announcement was made on the Official Google Blog today. This collection includes film, negatives, and even glass plates dating back as far as 1750, which have been digitized and are now hosted by Google. … Continue reading That’s LIFE

Owings Pioneer Days 2008

Re-enactors

This morning I was feeling much, much better than I had the past couple of days, so I decided to head down to Owings for their Pioneer Days. I had gone last year and really enjoyed myself, and really didn’t want to miss this year’s event. It was enjoyable again this year, but this year I noticed something very distressing. More on that later.

I left Greenville early so that I could get there before the parade started. As I was driving down the Interstate it looked like a wall of clouds hovering over the Gray Court exit. Under this cloud the humidity skyrocketed. Unfortunately, hot and humid was the way it was going to be. Continue reading “Owings Pioneer Days 2008”

The Children’s Graveyard

Mary P

Eric from “A Day’s Drive from Greenville” recently wrote about a trip he took to the “Children’s Graveyard” near Furman University. His descriptions and photos made me want to take a visit for myself, so today I set off in search of this supposedly haunted location.

I had only heard about this graveyard recently while reading about ghost stories of the Upstate. It’s odd that throughout all my years of association with Furman and the Furman area I was never aware of this cemetery. However, it is easy to overlook the entrance, and the area has been left undeveloped.

Thanks to Eric’s lat/long coordinates, I was able to find the spot with no trouble. The entrance road, Thackston Road on Google Maps, has huge holes in the pavement and doesn’t look like something that’s really accessible. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you would drive right by.

Continue reading “The Children’s Graveyard”