In the last edition of Fresh Air Friday, I told you about Poinsett Bridge with a promise to follow up with the story of another historic Upstate bridge this week. That bridge is, of course, Campbell’s Covered Bridge which has stood proudly in the Upstate since 1909 and is now the centerpiece of a park owned and operated by Greenville Rec.
Fresh Air Friday: Campbell’s Covered Bridge
Tips To Breathe In
- Difficulty: Easy
- Price: Free
- Wheelchair/Stroller Accessible?: Not so much
- Pet-friendly?: Keep ’em on a leash
- Parking: Plenty
- Hours/Seasonal: During daylight hours
- Amenities: None
- Nearby?: Define “near”… there is not much in the immediate vicinity but Downtown Greer dining is only 20 minutes away and Scenic Highway 11 resides just a bit to the north
- Fact 1: Campbell’s Covered Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 at the age of 100
- Fact 2: While Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the only such bridge in the state, Pennsylvania boasts the most with 219
- Fact 3: Covered bridges were often referred to as “kissing bridges” for the brief moment of privacy couples would have as they passed through them
Covered bridges came into vogue in the early 1800s as a practical solution to the relatively short life span of bridges. An uncovered wooden bridge subjected to the elements would see its structural beams decay in a mere 10 to 15 years but a covered bridge would last substantially longer. Ironically, the life of the covered bridge’s popularity was relatively brief in and of itself as metal trusses became more cost effective by the mid-1800s. Covered bridges built after this time, like Campbell’s, were primarily found in areas where timber was plentiful and, therefore, more affordable.
At one time, there were an estimated 12,000 covered bridges in the United State alone. Now, estimates place the total at less than 1,000 with only 1,600 known across the globe as a whole. For our part, Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the only one still standing in the state of South Carolina making it a proud Upstate landmark.
Campbell’s Covered Bridge is named for Alexander Lafayette Campbell who owned 194 acres in the area upon which he operated a grist mill, portions of which still stand to this day. The bridge was first renovated in 1964 and remained open to motor vehicle traffic until the 1980s before it was restored again in 1990. In 2005, Sylvia Pittman – the owner of the land surrounding the bridge – recognized the historical significance of the bridge and sold it to Greenville County for the purpose of turning the area into a proper public park.
Thankfully Greenville Rec did just that as the site is now a lovely destination for a picnic or to soak your toes on a hot summer day. Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the obvious centerpiece of the park but the whole area surrounding it is as serene as you could ever ask for out of public green space. Picnic tables and benches are available to sit and take it all in, as are the old foundations of the grist mill and home site that did not stand up to time as well as the bridge has. Beaverdam Creek is also the perfect stream for kids to wade and splash around in the shadow of the bridge about them.
Greenville Rec has also done an outstanding job of telling the history of the bridge and the land it sits upon through interpretive signage across the property. See it as a kind of self-guided tour through Upstate history perfect for children and adults alike.
All of this is located in Landrum in northern Greenville County. Roughly a 30-minute drive from Downtown Greenville only 20 minutes north of Greer, the site is easily accessible and in an absolutely gorgeous part of the Upstate. It truly is one of the state’s most significant treasures and we are fortunate to have it all to ourselves right here at home.
If You Like This, You’ll Love – Fresh Air Friday: Poinsett Bridge
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