By day, Poinsett Bridge — one of the oldest bridges in the whole state of South Carolina — offers a quiet, remote setting amidst the mountains of northern Greenville County for relaxing and exploring. But by night, the bridge becomes the site of seemingly unexplainable paranormal activity.
The bridge is, in fact, not only the oldest surviving bridge in the state, but also perhaps the oldest in the Southeast region at large. It earned its place among the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
It’s only natural, then, that Poinsett Bridge is a popular destination point for both locals and those visiting from out of town.
From Travelers Rest, you need only take a 20-minute drive northeast to discover this historically significant landmark.
Take US-25 N and then merge right onto Old Highway 25. When the road forks after Dividing Water Road, bear to the right to get onto Callahan Mountain Road. The bridge will be on your left, but you’ll need to park in the lot on the right side of the street.
When you cross the street to see the bridge, you’ll be greeted by a stone marker that gives a very brief intro. The marker reads:
Greenville to Asheville
Board of Public Works
Joel R. Poinsett, President
Marker placed by
Nathanael Greene Chapter
Daughters of American Revolution
You can walk over the bridge to the other side and also walk under its stately 15-foot Gothic arch — that is, if you don’t mind getting your feet wet in the shallow waters of Little Gap Creek, which run below the bridge.
Other favorite ways to pass the time here include exploring around the bridge, picnicking, and taking pictures with friends and family.
Poinsett Bridge enjoys a lush, shaded, and very quiet setting; all that lies within immediate reach is the 120-acre Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve, as well as the Boy Scouts’ Camp Old Indian and, further off, a few residences.
This may come as a disconcerting thought when night falls, as several visitors to the bridge attest to strange happenings at Poinsett Bridge after dark.
So what actually happens at Poinsett Bridge at night?
“Several locals say they have been unable to start their cars when they get ready to leave,” says local Doris Davis. “A light is said to move toward them while they sit in their cars. They hear a loud scream when the light gets close.”
Screams and lights seem to be the most common experiences.
“I have heard voices coming from the area of the arch, screams around the top of the bridge, and I have seen red, white, and green lighted dots floating on the mountain side, similar to a lantern,” says Taylors native Mike Ross.
Others sense more of a fear-instilling presence.
“About four years ago. I drove my neighbor, her boyfriend at the time, and one of their friends up there, parked across the road. As soon as I shut off the engine and rolled down the windows, we could hear movements around us. I had my hand resting on the door when I felt a man’s rough hand and fingers grab onto mine,” says Greenville-born Shanna Clippard. “I’ve been up there several time throughout the years, but it never fails at night to see, feel, or hear something that would leave most paralyzed, including myself.”
Among the locals who haven’t experienced the strange happenings for themselves, many can, nonetheless, name someone they know who’s been spooked at Poinsett Bridge.
“My uncle said he seen a white figure there at night,” says Greer native Lesia Evans.
Hauntings have become so synonymous with the bridge that it’s been featured in roundups of the area’s most notable ghost stories, such as the YouTube miniseries Haunted Echoes: South Carolina and John Boyanoski’s book Ghosts of Upstate South Carolina.
Local lore about the hauntings has also helped to draw the interest of “ghost hunters” like the GHOST Paranormal Research Organization (GHOST PRO). When they visited the site in 2008, they noted random appearances of red and white lights near the bridge.
“There are no residences, streetlamps, communications towers, or lighted signage within an appreciable distance to account for the phenomena witnessed,” the team wrote.
During their visit, they also took nearly 400 photos around the bridge. Nearly 100 of those photos exhibited “some type of phenomena.”
“Subsequent analysis show a predominance of orbs, both singular and multiple, of varying shape, size, color, and density,” they noted. “Further, a rather substantial unexplained mist of man-sized proportion and shape was captured on film at the same time an investigator reacted to an audible external noise.”
The team concluded that Poinsett Bridge is, if not haunted, at the very least “a place of highly elevated paranormal occurrences.”
Other experts on paranormal activity visited the bridge and found that there was a great deal of electromagnetic field (EMF) activity.
“The EMF activity appeared to move about the area, because it was never in the same place. It seemed like something was walking between and around us for a good portion of the time we were standing still on the bridge,” wrote Tina McSwain, founder of the Charlotte Area Paranormal Society. “However, when we would go back in an effort to debunk the reading, the KII would now not spike in that area.”
So, you may be wondering: Is Poinsett Bridge indeed haunted? It may be too early in our series to draw any definite conclusions. So stick around for the next post, and we’ll learn the full story behind the bridge’s history and its numerous ghost stories. Once you have all the facts, you can decide for yourself if Poinsett Bridge is haunted or not.
(Note: This post is the first in a series about Poinsett Bridge and its haunted history. See the other two posts here: “The Real Story of South Carolina’s Oldest, Most Memorable Bridge” and “Do You Believe These Haunted Tales About Poinsett Bridge?“)
Photo Credits: Featured/Poinsett Bridge – Flickr user cmh2315fl