Saluda Factory Ruins and Ruins of Old State Road Bridge

I’m so sorry it’s been awhile updating this blog.  I haven’t found anything really new in South Carolina lately.  SO…if anyone who reads this blog knows of any unique hidden places or ruins in South Carolina, let me know!  Any information from the following post is from this site.

This Saturday, I went to visit the Riverbanks Zoo.  I saw lots of lovely animals.

Flamingos at the Zoo

Flamingos at the Zoo

Sleepy Bear at the Zoo

Sleepy Bear at the Zoo

Tiger at the Zoo

Tiger at the Zoo

However, we went to see the gardens.  Along the way, we stopped by the ruins of of the Old State Road Bridge that was burned by Confederates.  You can see this bridge from the bridge separating the Zoo and Gardens.   Here are a few photos.

This bridge was burned by Confederates to slow Sherman's advance.

This bridge was burned by Confederates to slow Sherman’s advance.

Middle Section of Old State Bridge across the Saluda

Final Section of Ruins of Bridge.

Final Section of Ruins of Bridge.

What surprised me the most was stumbling on to a path behind the zoo.  This property is owned and protected by Riverbanks Zoo.   I found out later that this path lead to the Saluda Factory ruins, which I had heard of before.   What I hadn’t heard before was Sherman’s Rock.  Supposedly, there is a rock that Sherman stood on, on the eve of the shelling of Columbia.   I think it might be the rock in this picture, it was a massive boulder, but I can’t be sure.  Next time I’ll ask a worker if they know.

Sherman's Rock?

Sherman’s Rock?….Honestly there were a lot of boulders so it could have been any of them.

I did not know much about the Saluda River Factory.  According to Riverbanks Zoo, it was built in 1830 and one of South Carolina’s Oldest Textile Mills.  If so, that pre-dates Graniteville Textiles, which I had assumed to be the oldest textile mill in South Carolina by 15 years.  You can read more about Graniteville in my post here.

The mill was destroyed by Sherman, but rebuilt after the Civil War.  I do not know if they used the same stones and structure, but it accidentally burnt down in 1884.  According to Riverbanks, the ruins include “remnants of the granite foundations of the mill, picking house and millrace” (Riverbanks History).  The mill at one point produced uniforms for Confederate soldiers, so burning it was strategic for Sherman’s Advance.

After traveling the trail we found the ruins.  The following pictures are of the Saluda Factory.

Abandoned granite blocks being chipped out of boulders. This was actually near the end of the path, but these were left behind after the fire.

Abandoned granite blocks being chipped out of boulders. This was actually near the end of the path, but these were left behind after the fire.

This shows where they let the water in for the mill.  No, I do not know what it's called. :)

This shows where they let the water in for the mill. No, I do not know what it’s called. 🙂

Sign about the Factory

We actually went around and looked into the ruins. I suggest that you do not do the same. We saw a trail, and assumed it was ok to do so. Sadly, even though I took a picture of this sign, I did not read carefully, and trespassed accidentally. You can see the ruins easily enough from the viewing platform they have built. There were quite a few beer bottles and trash scattered about, so please respect the wishes of the zoo. Had I not been so excited to see the ruins, I would have been more careful :P.


Keystone Arch....very cool that it's still standing, but I don't know it's purpose.

Keystone Arch….very cool that it’s still standing, but I don’t know it’s purpose.

Ruins of Factory

Overgrowth of ruins

Since my knowledge of mills of the 1800’s are very limited, I do not know what structures these originally were.   At Riverbanks, you can visit the Saluda Factory Interpretive Center, but when we arrived, it was closed.    They may be of further assistance if you choose to visit this area.  It is very public, as long as you pay the zoo fee.   It’s a very good deal for a day at the zoo, and a trip back into time!  Plus you get to meet this guy!

OstrichIf you know any more about the ruins or any other places in SC, don’t hesitate to let me know!

About Elizabeth W.

I'm the writer of the hidden history of South Carolina blog. Unfortunately, I've moved to Virginia, and can no longer write for it, or just add Virginia spots...but if you would like to take on the Blog, let me know. my other blog, Thou Shalt Fly without Wings, is my personal blog about my journey through education, history, horses, and the paranormal.
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4 Responses to Saluda Factory Ruins and Ruins of Old State Road Bridge

  1. Carl D. says:

    Actually that photo is not of Sherman’s Rock. Sherman’s Rock is up the bank a considerable distance from the river and juts out from the side of a hilltop; that’s why there is the legend that Sherman stood on top of it so could see Columbia burn from up there.. It has a hollowed out area underneath it which teenagers, before the zoo got the property, used to go to hang out.

    Having grown up in the area and spending many summers at the river, part of me is sad that young people today don’t have the freedom to explore the entire area without trespassing, but I’m so glad that the zoo is preserving this historical site. I apreciate you featuring the location on your website to let others know about it’s history .

    • Kimber Lee Mastatoulo says:

      I grew up a street over playing in those ruins and Carl is correct…We were the teenagers who hung out under Sherman’s rock. Carl, do I know you? They found Native American pottery at the ruins which is the only reason they have it blocked off.

  2. shan C says:

    It’s true. That is not Sherman’s rock. Before they built the zoo on that side of the river, I used to walk and play among the paths and ruins there. I had no idea of the historical significance then though. Here is a link to a picture of Sherman’s rock on the SC archives page.
    There is another picture of it here:
    This is also very interesting – on this page are pictures of a pencil sketch of Sherman crossing the Saluda at this point with the burning Saluda Factory in the background – and a painting of the same that has been made from the sketch. The sketch was made at the time by a newspaper artist – so is presumably fairly accurate. Looks like Sherman crossed close to where the current zoo bridge is as you can see the remains of the old state bridge supports in the picture.

    Under the powerlines just outside the zoo property at the entrance to the botanical gardens there is a historical marker marking the factory cemetery. There are very few marked graves left – the cemetery had been abandoned and lost in the woods and was rediscovered when SCEG sold the property to Mungo which Mungo developed into the Saluda Mill neighborhood. It is not known for sure but suspected that this was a cemetery of the workers that lived around the mill – the area was called Saludaville – the graves are thought to be from the mid 1800’s to the early 1900s. Mungo did not get to build near as many houses as they planned because of the cemetery being there.

    The text of the historical marker is here:
    I don’t know where the 31 marked graves are the sign claims – only one has a readable headstone – the others are really just pieces of broken off granite here and there – doesn’t seem like 31. Mungo had a private company research and determine the extent of the cemetery – their report is here :,d.eXY&cad=rja

    I find it all very interesting.

  3. Ray says:

    I used to live on saluda river drive back in late 60 early 70, the graves site was behind our house and two houses to the left facing saluda river road, 1401 saluda river drive. i remember the graves of veronica and the coreys, Veronica , first name only, had a tomb stone stated ‘FADED TO BE BORN AGAIN’ . The Coreys were from the Civil war, soldiers all i remember. i was young but remember this is because my late sister used to drag us out there and do stupid witch craft non sense from that hippy era. was alot of sunken graves and head stones, apparently was stolen over the years, there was a family watching over the grave site back then.
    there were indian mounds, so my sister told me, at the site too, wonder if any claims on that?

    I am surprised they built huge homes over the wooded area grave sites, amazing that was not perserved. spooky back then, sure its spooky now.

    the factory, which we didnt know at time, was past the ball park , which now is part of zoo, and you could go play on elephant rocks and stones, dig up cannon balls, fish, explore on your own, we use to ride the rapids , but the leaches were bad. those days are gone. looks like its fenced up for pur safety .
    i do remember the oversear house, back then we called the witch house, on left of mohawk road just past the powerlines before saluda river drive. , but in late 90,s i took family on a spook tour during the day in West Cola, and both the boy scout house and spook house was burned to ground, had a new truck , so didnt venture on old path to grave site , should of, didnt know there is a houses there now, time moves on.

    well in my Late 50’s, thought i would write this, miss the crazy sister and the spooky times out at the grave site.

    just a thought

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