I had been trying to track down a place I’d seen on an old map. The Temple of Health was the name of a community and a post office, but it originally applied to an old inn on a stage coach route. The Stage Coach Inn was purchased and renamed for mineral springs on the property that supposedly had medicinal properties. After my initial research I had tried to visit the location of the Temple of Health near Antreville, but I hadn’t found anything. I had discovered that the original inn had been moved to a resort near Toccoa, Georgia. It was time to actually visit the Temple of Health.
As I’d mentioned in my initial research, I had dismissed the Trembly Bald links as irrelevant, too far away to be related to my target of interest. Toccoa is a couple of hours away from Antreville. Yet, when I did look at those links I discovered that it was quite relevant. Trembly Bald Resort has built an attraction by moving historic structures to its location. The Old Stage Coach Inn/Temple of Health is one of these structures. Others include an old lodge and several smaller cabins.
I made a call to the resort and spoke with Richard Rowland, who agreed to let us come visit the property. An appointment was set, and I was ready to visit the real Temple of Health.
October 20, 2016
When the appointed time arrived I picked up Ken Cothran as I passed through Clemson, and we headed on toward our destination. Trembly Bald is actually northeast of Toccoa just on the other side of the Tugaloo River. My GPS took us up and over the mountains between Westminster and Long Creek, eventually crossing the river at Prather’s Bridge. We turned north onto Yonah Dam Road, and soon spotted a sign for the resort.
We pulled into the driveway and spotted the inn set in the most prominent location on the property.
Richard was waiting for us with some additional information when we parked. He had a copy of the 1970 Sandlapper Magazine article about the Temple of Health. The article was written when the building was in its original location, and featured a photo of the house before it was restored to its original condition.
The article had some other information that filled in the gaps I was missing from my previous research and explorations. It described the current (1970) condition of the house compared with its original condition.
Few who pass the renovated house today realize that it was once an inn and stagecoach stop; nor are they aware of its unique history. Underneath the white clapboards are 12-in-thick logs, laid dovetail fashion and secured with pegs measuring one inch in diameter. Four (two downstairs and two upstairs) of the seven rooms are constructed of these hand-hewn logs. Wide flooring bears the mark of a foot adz used to smooth the boards.
We would see that Trembly Bald had restored the house to those original view, but that’s getting ahead of things. The article confirmed the original location of the inn as the spot John Blythe had described to me.
The house fronts on S. C. 28, formerly known as the General’s Road (named for Gen. [Andrew] Pickens). Forking off this road, directly in front of the house, is the old Trail Road, once an Indian trail leading to Craytonville and Belton. In later years John C. Calhoun also frequented the inn as he traveled the trail road form his home in Abbeville County to Clemson in Oconee County.
The article went on to describe the owners of the house. At the time of writing several generations of the Gable family occupied the home, but previous owners included Frank Clinkscales and Conrad Wakefield, surnames I’d encountered at Shiloh Methodist Cemetery and in genealogical histories surrounding the house. The exact date of construction and builder are unknown, but it is thought that the inn was built around 1775. Another quote links Asa Hall, the name of the dirt road I’d found on my rambles, to the inn:
The story is told that during the elder Gable’s lifetime, his neighbor Asa Hall would bring his wife to the Gable house when a storm was coming up. Bustling in before the storm broke he would remark, “I know it would take more than a strong wind to move this old house; it was built to last and I feel safe here during a storm.”
The article went on with tales of Confederate gold, including an officer’s golden sword passing through the inn after the surrender at Appomattox. However, it makes no mention of the Brownlees (who married into the Clinkscales family) nor of the post office.
That was all well and good, but we were here to see the real inn. Richard led us up to the hill where we stepped up to the front porch. A sign identified the building as the “Stagecoach Inn” on one side, with “1775 Antreville S. C.” on the reverse.
The white clapboard siding described in the Sandlapper magazine had been removed, and the original logs, complete with axe marks, were visible.
Richard unlocked the building and led us in for a tour. He said that the original Trembly Bald owners purchased the inn in the mid-1980s and began the process of moving the structure in 1986. The building was disassembled and each board was numbered, then reconstructed at this location. Some portions of the house, such as railings and steps had to be rebuilt with vintage materials, but for all intents and purposes, this is is the original. The process took a little over a year, with completion in 1987.
The interior was rustic, but looked quite comfortable. Since this is a place rented to guests, there are the necessary modern amenities – electricity, bathrooms, a kitchen, etc.
This wasn’t the case when the inn was first moved, though. Apparently the original Trembly Bald owners wanted guests to have an authentic log cabin experience. In some of the bedrooms there weren’t even beds, but rough hammocks. Richard said that was taking things a bit too far, and that they realized they needed to do some modernizing. He didn’t say if this had happened before he bought the property or afterwards, nor did he say when he had bought the property.
Downstairs there was a master bedroom, den, and kitchen. A set of stairs led upward where there were two smaller bedrooms flanked a central hallway on either end.
In the upstairs landing there was a door that led out to a small balcony. Another set of stairs led up to a loft bedroom on the third floor. They were in the process of cleaning the building for the next set of guests, so we didn’t venture further upstairs.
Throughout the house there was evidence of the original construction – the marks of axes and adzes on the wood.
Ken and I walked outside and took some exterior photos. The fall leaves were reaching their peak color and framed the house nicely. I couldn’t help but think that this would have been totally different from the original setting in Antreville, but it works. The folks at Trembly Bald have done an excellent job of restoration.
Temple of Health was only one building at the resort, and Richard wanted to show us some of the others. We had parked near a structure called “The Lodge”, built in the early 1800s by a doctor near Toccoa Creek. This looked more like an inn that Temple of Health, and was actually much larger.
We entered through a modern kitchen and found our way into a long banquet hall with tables. Doors opened onto a long porch along the back. Richard said that this facility is perfect for family reunions, and I could certainly see that. A couple of bedrooms branched off of the dining hall.
Upstairs were a couple more very interesting bedrooms with two double beds set at different levels. There was also one long room with bunk beds and day beds. A couple of smaller loft bedrooms were set off on either side. This place could accommodate a LARGE family.
The rates Richard quoted to us for staying in the Lodge were VERY reasonable. The thought ran through my mind that this would be a great place for our huge family to gather.
Trembly Bald isn’t just a family retreat, though. It’s also a popular wedding venue. Richard showed us the chapel, next door to the lodge. The Chapel isn’t a historic structure, but was constructed from vintage and repurposed materials so that it has the same look and feel as the other buildings on the property. The church pews came from an old church in the area.
Richard had been more than gracious with his time and willingness to give us a tour of the property. We thanked him, and continued on our trek.
Whenever we’re out this way there is one place we always try to stop – Bell’s Cafe. It was close to lunch time, so we headed in that direction. We had a slight detour as a bridge was being rebuilt, but we made it to Bell’s.
The place was already crowded, and the only seats available were at a small counter. Ken and I snagged them and ordered up some of their famous fried chicken.
We still had some time before I had to get Ken back to Clemson. We decided to ride up to Toccoa Falls. We paid the entrance fee and walked the short trail up to the falls. Ken and I agreed that really are some of the nicest falls around. If I were a student at Toccoa Falls College I think this is where I would hang out all of the time. I used my tripod and a neutral density filter to try to slow down the exposure, despite the bright sunlight.
We still had one more place I wanted to check, though. We backtracked out of Toccoa, and after zig-zagging a bit, once more passedthe entrance to Trembly Bald. A bit further up we passed a river access where Alan Russell and I had launched a kayak trip on the Tugaloo several miles down to Stevens Creek. While this is technically part of Lake Hartwell, the waterway looks more like a river than lake, and even has a bit of a current.
However, I was interested in another potential paddling venue. Lake Yonah is a narrow lake on the Tugaloo between Tugaloo Lake and Lake Hartwell. As far as I knew, this road was the only access. Soon we rounded a bend and found ourselves at the Yonah Dam. There was a classic early 20th century power plant. It amazes me that these still function and provide power, a testament to their engineering. We stopped at a picnic area that provided some views.
Just around the corner from the dam is a boat ramp. Beyond that the pavement ended, and only driveways led further down to private residences on the lake. We never gained a good vantage point where we could actually see the lake.
We headed on back, with a brief pause at the aforementioned kayak launch. The boat ramp at Walker Creek would have been inaccessible for motor boat launch because of the low water, but I was still chomping at the bit to launch a kayak. A couple of guys were trying their hand at bow fishing, which intrigued me. As we walked back to the car we saw an old bridge abutment over Walker Creek, but decided we were too tired at this point to explore further.
It had been a great day of exploring, but it was time to get Ken back to Clemson, and me back home. It was a successful trip, though. I had finally visited the Temple of Health, now far removed form the springs that give the old inn its name. There were still some unanswered questions, but for now I felt that I had answered as many as I could, and that was enough.