If you are north of the center of Travelers Rest traveling along Hwy 276, you will quickly go past one of the reasons for this community to exist where it does. Forgotten in ways that say more about how modern conveniences have changed how we view natural resources, are two sources of water. Without these two sources, leading to streams, then rivers, and finally the ocean, this community could not have been founded where it was. Over the years, they have been used and abused, controlled and dammed, but their sources are still there. The two water sources, less than a mile apart, are the springs and seepages that form the Reedy and Enoree rivers.
You can tell a lot about us, our history, how we made a living, how we recreated and built a life, from these small beginnings. Hwy 276 is a modern road that is over a very old path. It is higher in elevation than the springs and the bottom lands where water collects. If you were a Cherokee before 1780, or a back country settler after then, having roads that did not get wet was important. But on one side of 276, behind the aptly named Spring Park Assisted Living Center, is a low, marshy area. Here the Reedy River begins, named for the dense reeds that once grew along its banks and the reliable water. From here it later meets with other small spring fed streams, like the one along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, behind the Cafe at Williams Hardware, and begins to flow steadily near the YMCA, through Green Valley and on towards its showcase falls in downtown Greenville, Lake Conestee and eventually Lake Greenwood.
On the other side of Hwy 276, near a housing development and near the also aptly named Bubbling Creek Road, arises the spring and wet area that becomes the larger Enoree river, a native word referring to the muscadine grapes that once grew along its banks. Flowing northeast, around Paris Mountain, and later southeast, past the old Chick Springs Resort and later into the Broad River, and finally, water that fell on either side of Hwy 276, meets again at the falls in Columbia, later to flow into the Congaree National Park and eventually the Atlantic near Georgetown.
In Travelers Rest, the Reedy River was the water source for early settlers, and a welcome relief of fresh water for travelers staying at inns like the Spring Park Inn, now a private residence just off the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It became an attraction and easy source for recreation and eventually drainage for industry from the many textile mills that fed into it, like Renfrew Mill. Flowing eastward from Travelers Rest, the Enoree also became very important to travelers and the early farmers. Being close to the Enoree was the reason that early founders like Dicey Langston settled where they did. The farming was excellent north of Paris Mountain through the mid 20th century.
Today, the streams, after years of use and at times abuse, are also at times forgotten, but growing increasingly more understood as natural resources that help the land breathe and live. For rivers that were once said that Greenville had turned its back on, maybe that is changing.
If you are interested in assisting in the preservation and health of the Reedy River, learn more at Friends of the Reedy River.
Photos by Jason Greer