Exciting Events at Musgrove Mill State Park: Battle of Blackstock by Candlelight, Ghost Tales, Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site’s was the scene of a bloody American Revolution battle. “On Aug. 19, 1780, 200 Patriots rode to strike what they thought was an equal number of Loyalists at Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Instead, they found themselves badly outnumbered, the Tories having been joined by 300 provincial regulars from the British post at Ninety Six. Retreat was impossible, a frontal assault suicidal. So the Patriot forces took a strong defensive position and lured the Loyalists into a fierce fight that turned into a near rout after the British attack collapsed.” – Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site regularly holds special events, including encampments and living history programs. Here are some exciting events coming up this fall and over the Holidays:

Archaeology Day at Musgrove’s Mill – October 18, 2008, 10 AM – 4:00 PM
Have you ever wondered how archaeologists find and identify artifacts from American Revolutionary War battlefields like Musgrove’s Mill? Visit Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to learn about the methods used and what studies have been done at the site to shed light on this important battle. Project archaeologists will be on-site showing and discussing how they found and identified artifacts. Archaeological tours will be offered throughout the day and kids will be “digging” for artifacts.

Tales of Union County at Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site – October 24 and 25, 2008, 7 PM – 10 PM
Journey into the spooky past with the “Tales of Union County”! Enjoy local ghostly tales and spine-chilling legends in a family setting with marshmallow and wiener roasts, apple bobbing, and other fall festival activities. Sip a cup of hot chocolate, or hot apple cider by the flickering light of the campfire listening to folklore and legends of the Upstate. There may even be a ghost or two…

Battle Of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration at Blackstock Battlefield Historic Site – November 22, 2008, 1 PM – 3 PM

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site will be presenting the Battle of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration, featuring an interpretive talk, a Ranger-led tour of the battlefield, a firing salute, and commemorations by the Daughters of the American Revolution.


The Battle By Candlelight
– December 13, 2008, 6 PM – 8 PM $4 adults, $3 seniors (65 and older), children 15 and under FREE
Experience Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in the dark! The event will feature candle-lit tours of the Musgrove Mill battlefield and historic presentations of the Battle of Musgrove’s Mill from the Patriot and British point of view.

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley


While at the park learn about Mary Musgrove (the mill’s owner daughter, whose house ruins can still be seen inside the park) and other brave South Carolina women who sacrificed their life to help the Patriots win many battles during Revolutionary War. Mary became legendary with the 1835 publishing of the romantic novel “Horse-shoe Robinson: A Tale of the Tory Ascendancy”.

Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation – December 12-14, 2008, 6 PM – 8:30 PM, $5 per person
Come experience what Christmas was really like in the years before the Civil War. Enjoy the Rose Hill Plantation as it might have been in the antebellum era. The mansion will be decorated for the holiday season during the month of December, and there will be a special Evening Open House the weekend before Christmas: December 21 and 22 from 5 PM until 8 PM, and December 23 from 4 PM until 6 PM

Where
Musgrove Mill State Park is located off I-26 near Clinton, less than half an hour drive from Greenville. Admission to the park is FREE. Operation hours: Park 9 AM – 6 PM daily; Visitor Center 10 AM – 4 PM Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. More information at (864) 938-0100. Here is the custom Google Map with some incredibly fun and mostly free family attractions in the Upstate.

History buffs take the short drive to Cowpens National Battleground park, site to the most important Revolutonary War battle of the Southern Campaign. Admission is free.

Experience the extraordinary American Revolution battles at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site!

Walhalla historic things to see – Oconee Station, Oconee Heritage Center, St. John Lutheran Church, Tamassee School and Fort George

History abounds at every step near Walhalla and the entire Upstate region. Here are some suggestions and the custom Google Map on what to do with kids while vacationing at Oconee State Park. As you can see is not just about incredibly beautiful waterfalls or gem mines hunting!

Oconee Historic Station
Fear of Indian attacks resulted in several small forts being erected from 1770s to 1792 in what’s now known as Oconee and Pickens counties.

William Richards 1805 house at Oconee Historic Station

William Richards 1805 house at Oconee Historic Station

General Robert Anderson wrote in 1792 “I have ordered the people to build blockhouses, where they are exposed and intimidated, to fly to with their families in case of alarm…I have ordered trusty spies to be constantly kept out of Tugalo and at the Oconee Mountain, as they are the spots…which will be most exposed.”
The Historic Oconee Station was built in 1792 on the Cherokee trading path near the abandoned Oconee village (in 1868 Oconee County will be named after it). It will serve as a military outpost from 1792 to 1799, defended by 30 militia men recruited from the “hardiest and best hunters”.

From 1795 to 1809 the station acted as a significant Indian Trading post, owned and operated by Irish immigrant William Richards who bought the property from General Andrew Pickens. He built a two story brick house in 1805 where he lived until his death. An 1809 inventory of the estate revealed 30,000 deer skins, 329 bear skins, 82 pounds of ginseng and many other sundry items!

St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oconee Heritage Center, Walhalla and Seneca Libraries

One of Walhalla’s most cherished attractions is the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church.

1853 Saint John Lutheran Church in Walhalla (original building still standing!)

1853 Saint John Lutheran Church in Walhalla (original building still standing!)

The church was organized in 1853 by German immigrants who also founded Walhalla in 1850. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The original building still stands today. To tour the church call for an appointment (864) 638-6363. St. John church is located on 301 Main Street in Walhalla.

Housed in a 1892 tobacco warehouse, the Oconee Heritage Center is another must see Walhalla museum features an 18th century dugout canoe, early maps and artifacts, a Depression era farmer’s house and a Stump House tunnel replica. The center is located at 123 Brown Square behind the Court House and is open Tue, Thu and Fri from 12 to 5 PM and Sat 10 AM – 3 PM. Free admission.

Kids will enjoy reading at the Walhalla Library.

Reading with Pooh at the Seneca Library

Reading with Pooh at the Seneca Library

The library has an extensive collection of early Cherokee maps, like “The Cherokee Village Map” by Margaret Seaborn that is available for purchase there.

Speaking of library please drive to Seneca (where most of shopping is done anyway) and spend some quality time at its historic library. The site used to house the first 3 Seneca schools.

Fort Prince George and Tamassee School (near Lake Keowee)

In 1753 the British built a stockade style fort across the river from Keowee Town to protect against the Cherokees. It was the scene of a brutal massacre after the British lured in a group of Cherokees leaders, imprisoned and killed them. Currently Fort George is covered by Lake Keowee as is the Keowee Town.

On August 12, 1776 Andrew Pickens fought the mighty Cherokees in what is now called The Ring Fight. The battle was part of a military campaign to destroy all Indian villages in the area.

1753 Fort George replica at Pickens County Museum

1753 Fort George replica at Pickens County Museum

The 1777 treaty was signed and the Cherokees ceded most of the land that now comprises Oconee, Pickens, Greenville and Anderson counties. Andrew Pickens’s last home was built on a hill overlooking the Tamassee Village.

In 1919 The Daughters of the American Revolution Society founded the Tamassee DAR School. Currently it serves as home and family services for South Carolina and Georgia children in crisis. The school is open daily 8 AM – 5 PM; appointments preferred, call (864) 944-1390.

Other fun and mostly free things to do with kids around Walhalla

• Go to Lake Jocassee the finest fishing place in the Southeast where you have plenty of recreational activities.

Happy on the metal horse - Walhalla Art by Robert

Happy on the metal horse - Walhalla Art by Robert


• At Oconee State Park where you can swim, canoe, kayak, fish, paddle-boat, play putt-golf or hike around the lake. Those more adventurous can access the start of the famous Foothills Trail.

• Visit Duke’s World of Energy to learn how electricity is generated from water, coal and uranium. There are many interactive exhibits, a real-size nuclear reactor replica and fun games to test your scientific knowledge.

• Drive to Pickens to see Andrew Pickens’s duel pistols, the old jail with its famous Winchester Axe, and the legendary Hagood Mill, one of the oldest and still operating gristmills in South Carolina.

Exotic plants, dinosaurs and amazing nature sculpture at the SC Botanical Garden (free things to do with kids around Greenville)

SC Botanical Garden welcomes you to 295 acres of woodlands and streams, award winning exotic gardens, a 70 acre arboretum, and miles of gentle hiking trails decorated with incredible nature based sculptures. The garden grounds are free to attend and open year around from dawn till dusk.

Nature based sculpture at SC Botanical Garden

Notable attractions to see at the SC Botanical Garden

1. Bob Campbell Geology Museum – come see Clemson’s oldest tiger the Saber-toothed cat, hunt for gems, admire beautiful glowing rocks like the rose quartz and pegmatite and dig up some fossils. Open Wednesday to Saturday 10AM – 5PM and Sunday 1PM – 5PM (closed on Clemson University holidays). Admission fee: Adult $3, children $2, under 2 years is FREE. Free admission on every 3rd weekend!

Mining headframe at the Geology Museum inside SC Botanical Garden

2. Fran Hanson Discovery Center – home to the Botanical Garden visitor center provides maps and area attractions info. It features the Elizabeth Belser Fuller gallery and selective art by prominent SC artists. Kids will enjoy exploring the interactive exhibits inside the Nature Discovery room. Open Monday thru Saturday 10AM to 4PM.

Welcome to the SC Botanical Garden at Clemson

3. Hanover House – 1716 French Huguenot house, listed on National Register of Historic places. Open Saturday 10AM -12PM and Sunday 2PM – 4:30PM; closed on home football games. Call (864)-656-4789 for group tours reservations.

Hanover House photo

4. Nature-based sculpture – country’s largest nature-based outdoor sculpture collection by artists from all over the world.

Inside the tree sculpture at SC Botanical Garden

5. Hosta Garden – one of the largest collections of hostas in the Southeast featuring a lavish pond waterfall and shaded walking trails.

Smelling pretty Japanese plant at SC Botanical Garden

6. Hunt Family cabin – 1826 pioneer cabin located near the pretty Duck Pond it’s a great place to experience grassroots heritage programs held throughout the year.

7. Clemson Southern Caboose – legacy of the Class of 39th. This little red train will delight kids of all ages. Make sure to stop by the Heritage Garden nearby to learn more about Clemson University history.

Clemson Southern train photo at SC Botanical Garden

We were amused by the old-school disciplinary methods applied to the young soldier pupils. Must have been something quite important since they dedicated a plaque to it!

Disciplining pupils old school!


More area attractions and FREE things to do with kids:

• Pendleton historic houses (Farmer’s Hall, Ashtabula, Woodburn) and art district
• Duke’s World of Energy Museum
• Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls
Hagood Mill and Pickens County Museum of History and Art

Here is the Google Map with all the free and under $5 must see attractions around Greenville, Oconee and Devils Fork State parks.

Hosta Garden

Discover the beautiful gardens and mysterious dinosaurs of the South Carolina Upcountry!

Highlands dream vacation – gem mining, rock sliding, drive thru waterfall and awesome kids camping trip (things to do at Oconee and Lake Jocassee)

Arrive in North Carolina mountains. Wake up in Europe.” A great slogan that’s absolutely true. Highlands reminds me of Switzerland. Old Edwards Inn photo Nature all around, waterfalls, hiking trails, outdoor adventures at every step. And you don’t have to leave comfort behind. There are excellent places to stay, eat, shop and indulge your artistic spirit. Like the Highlands Playhouse, the Instant Theater and the Nature Center. The Old Edwards Inn, established in 1878 and part of the National Register of Historic Places, is the city’s landmark and an extraordinary spa resort.

Highlands and its natural forest, bog and wetlands surroundings represent the most diverse biologic area in the Appalachian Mountains, boasting over 160 species of birds and 500 species of flora. Its unique ecosystem offers incredible opportunities Lindenwood Lake for exploring wildlife and plants equaled only by the tropics.

The Highlands Botanical Garden covers 11 acres on the shores of Lindenwood Lake. There are nature trails that lead to displays of carnivorous plants, native azaleas and medicinal herbs. The Coker Rhododendron Trail is an old growth hemlock hardwood forest.

Things to do at the Garden

1. Visit the Nature Center, test your nature and survivals skills; Meet the bears, touch snake skins, turtle shells and dried animals scat. Say hello to the busy working bees…literally. Just keep some distance so you don’t get stung.

2. Bring your kids for Kids fun camping at Highlands Botanical Gardens an awesome day camping trip. We’ve witnessed one in action. The little ones were flabbergasted by the live snake demo. Then they started their hiking journey along the many yet short and easy going trails.

Along the way they learned how to spot predators, trace animals, think like a bat and hide like a bunny. Lana and I had to settle for something more mundane like watching a snail go by.

3. Hike the trails around the lake, through hardwood forest, and over an old beaver dam. Along the way admire some unusual plants at the Cherokee, Herb, Butterfly and Wildflower gardens.

4. Sing and perform at the Amphitheater. Nothing like playing American Idol…

Things to do and see downtown Highlands
Enjoying Kilwin ice-cream downtown Highlands 1. Get a taste of heaven at the Kilwin’s chocolate, fudge and ice-cream shop.

There is so many sweets inside you’ll need more than a minute to make up your mind.

2. Wash the sweets off with some deliciously aromatic coffee and catch up on all the gossip at Buck’s Coffee Café next door.

3. Get your hands on one of kind gifts only Highlands can put forth.
My 4 years old really liked the frogs; I preferred the Little Flower Shoppe.

4. Arts frog shop in Highlands See a play at the prestigious Highlands Playhouse theater.

Call (828)-526-2695 for tickets.

Here is the upcoming shows calendar (2008):

– Till July 6: “Always Patsy Cline”

– July 10 – July 20: “On Golden Pond”

– July 24 – August 10: “70th Anniversary Salute to Broadway”

– August 14 – August 31: “Inherit the Wind”

Things to do in the area

Gem mining, drive thru waterfall and rock sliding…sounds like fun?
Bridal Veil drive thru waterfall

Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunt for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee State Park and Lake Jocassee.

Who knows you may be the next “romancing the stone” star!

See Bridal Veil and Cullasaja waterfalls along scenic Hwy 64.

Located between Highlands and Franklin NC, Bridal Veil is the only waterfall in the Carolinas that you can drive through it.

Cullasaja river boasts the teens’ most favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot in the area. Motorists stop frequently to take photos, Swimming spot on Cullasaja River off hwy 64 enjoy the incredible views and just have a laugh watching the children jump Tarzan-style into the river.

Want to see more?

Read my previous post and visit the South Carolina Upcountry legendary waterfalls.


The fun is unlimited in the Carolina mountains!

Pickens Hagood Mill and County Museum of History and Art- free awesome attractions in SC Upcountry

Step back in history at the Pickens County Museum of History and Art and Hagood Mill “Where Memories are Made”. They are both FREE attractions to enjoy Pickens County Museum of Art and History while vacationing in the South Carolina Upcountry.
Pickens was a native Cherokee territory until the American Revolution when they suffered defeat and had to surrender their South Carolina lands. In 1769 the Ninety Six Judicial district was created and was composed of present day Greenville, Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties.

Hagood Mill Facts and Trivia
The gristmill was built by James Hagood in 1845 and it operated commercially until 1966. Hagood wellHagood Mill was a busy center. Records show, in 1870, it produced 140,000 pounds of meal and 11,200 pounds of flour.

In 1973 the mill was donated to the Pickens County and added to the National Register of Historic Places. To date it’s one of oldest known surviving gristmills still producing grain products.

Archaeological excavations revealed that on site rocks are covered with pre-historic carvings. The petroglyphs Hagood petroglyph will be preserved and displayed in the soon to be realized South Carolina Rock Art Interpretive Center.

Things to see and do at Hagood Mill
• 20 foot overshot wheel and wooden barn
• Old Bear Blacksmith shop
• A complete 19th century cotton gin
• Ol’ Mill Moonshine display
• Family farm exhibit

• Future SC Rock Art Interpretative Center
• Tour the property Hagood Mill 20 foot wheel and wooden barn Wednesday thru Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
• On a third Saturday of every month, rain or shine, the Mill operates and there are live shows: traditional music, folk storytelling and Native American dances.
• Check out the exhibits inside the visitor center and shop for one of a kind souvenirs, fresh stone ground cornmeal and grits and the Mill Cookbooks.
• Hike the ¾ mile nature trail (beware of snakes!)

Hagood Mill Events Schedule
(held on the 3rd Saturday of every month)
• July 19 – “Sugar in the Gourd, Dancin’ on the Board” – Buck dance contest
• August 16 – “Summer Gospel Show”
• September 20 – Hagood’s Mill famous Hagood Mill cotton gin“Fiddlin’ Convention” – competition for best old time fiddler, guitarist, banjo player and string band.
• October 18 – Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival
• November 15 – “Selugadu” – Native American Celebration with Cherokee dancing, drumming, storytelling and demonstrations.
• December 15 – “Celtic Christmas” Irish and Scottish music.

Pickens County Museum of History and Art
Take the kids to visit this awesome museum to witness one of the most history rich counties in South Carolina. From Cherokee diplomat Attakullakulla to American Revolution patriot (and county namesake) Andrew Pickens to present day Saturday evening barn dances and folklore stories.

Pickens County museum Andrew Pickens\' duel pistols is housed in a 1903 jail complete with crenellated turret, now part of National Register of Historic places. There are 39 permanent displays with artifacts, pictures and arts telling and preserving the incredible history of the Tri-counties.

The museum is also host to the prestigious Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition, an annual event showcasing best artistic creations from the state. Delight yourself outside along the Interpretive Gardens trails highlighting flora native to local forests, grasslands and bogs.

Pickens Museum Attractions

• Andrew Pickens’s 18th century English manufactured duel pistols captured from loyalist Capt. John Hamilton at 1779 Robert Carr’s Fort battle.
Pickens County Jail Room exhibit

• The Winchester Axe used to split the victim’s head at a “Blockade” Distellery dispute in 1936. A year later the fellow was released from prison for good behavior!
• The Jail room and noose where the last execution took place
• Young kids love watching the old corn grinding machinery, the antique children clothes and toys and the early 1900 music instruments
• Laugh (otherwise you may cry) at the 1960s food prices. How about 39 cents a pound for Prime Ribs or 49 cents for half-gallon ice cream? I wonder how much the gas was…

I spent quite some quality Art at the Pickens Museum time upstairs with my 4 years old admiring the works from the 29th Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition. I suggest asking kids questions like “What does this painting makes you feel?”, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”…you’ll be surprised by some of the answers. Either way seeing them drawn to art and interpreting paintings it’s priceless.

Where
Hagood Mill is located at 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens SC 29761, 3 miles north of city of Pickens and close to Cherokee Foothills Hwy 11.
The museum is in downtown Pickens, at 307 Johnson Street, near the intersection of Hwys 183 and 178. Operation hours are Tuesday to Saturday mostly 9 AM to 5 PM (Thus is till 7:30 PM, Sat till 4:30 PM).

Live the history in Pickens County and scenic South Carolina Upcountry!

Must see waterfalls in the South Carolina Upcountry (fun things to do outdoor with kids)

Here are some free and highly rewarding outdoor activities near Oconee State Park and Lake Jocassee in the breath-taking (I know I used this term a lot…but it’s so true) South Carolina Upcountry and Western North Carolina. Your kids will remember these trips for ever. To help you plan ahead here is a custom Google Map with these waterfalls as well as other area attractions worth shouting about.

Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel
Issaqueena is the most visited waterfall Isaqueena riding to her love and the only one with a “Romeo and Juliet” like love story. Legend has it Issaqueena rode her horse great distance to warn her (white-man) husband about fast approaching Indians seeking revenge for her marriage betrayal. Some say she died during the quest others speak of a happy ending. Either way the power of love prevailed.
The hike from the viewing area to the bottom of the fall is short but strenuous. I had to piggy back carry my 4 years old but we were rewarded with an up close view of the 200 feet gorgeous waterfall.

While in the area visit the Stumphouse Tunnel where big railroad dreams crushed but the blue cheese flourished. 1,500 Irish-immigrants workers and their families came to Stumphouse Mountain to work on the tunnel meant to complete the railroad from Charleston all the way to Ohio. In the 1850s “Tunnel Hill was a rough town with more saloons than churches”. The tunnel supposed to be 5,863 feet long and its deepest point 236 feet below the surface. However the massive granite stone posed significant challenges and workers could barely get to 200 feet a month. Stumphouse Tunnel

It was hard back-breaking labor of 12 hours a day six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills and black powder. The Civil War and constant lack of funding put an end to the project and Tunnel Hill faded into history.

In 1940s Dr. Paul G. Miller from Clemson University noticed the tunnel ideal conditions for curing blue cheese: year around temperature of 59 degrees and 85% humidity.

Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel are located on Hwy 28 between Walhalla and Oconee State Park.

Whitewater Falls
Upper Whitewater FallsAt 700 feet the Whitewater Falls are the highest falls series in the East (the Upper ones are 411 feet). The falls are close to Devils Fork and Oconee State Park and you can get to the park from highways 28, 107, 11 and 130. You will need to pay $2 daily admission fee. A half mile trail takes you to a breath-taking viewing area; beware the last segment has steep boardwalk steps. There is no trail to reach the base of the Upper Whitewater falls.

If you travel with little kids make sure to point out the funny cartoon sign remind them how dangerous the waterfall area can be. It worked well with my daughter.

Oconee Station Cove Falls
You can access the trail leading to the Cove Falls from Oconee Historic Station parking lot or Oconee State Park (connecting from the Oconee Trail). This is by far the longest (~3 miles round trip) and most diverse hike around a peaceful pond, through odd shaped trees, into a deep eerie forest, and along an intimate and refreshing creek. Fun at the bottom of Cove Falls
At the end it’s all worth it. The fall has a wide base area which makes it very popular with kids as they can hop around the rocks and get in the water safely.

Table Rock Falls
The Table Rock State Park has lots of mini waterfalls along the 1.9 mile Carrick Creek Trail that loops around the Nature Center. This is the only recommended trail for hiking with young children. With a fall every other minute it provides instant gratification to the little ones and perfect photo background. Right above the Nature Center it’s a fantastic rock-sliding and swimming spot little children just adore. This is the perfect “bribe” to keep them hiking on your way back.

Bridal Veil and Cullasaja Falls
These are separate falls located along scenic Hwy 64 Boy rock slides in Cullasaja river between Highlands and Franklin, the NC gem and gold mining star. Yes is the other Carolina but very close to the border and worth shouting about!
Bridal Veil is the only one I know of that you can drive through it. Cullasaja river boasts the teens’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot in the area. Motorists stop frequently to take photos, enjoy the incredible views and just have a laugh watching the children jump Tarzan-style into the river.

Make sure to stop by the Jackson Hole Gem Mine for some rubies and sapphires rock-hounding. Your kids will love that.

Downtown Greenville Reedy River Falls

An oasis of relaxation downtown Greenville

An oasis of relaxation downtown Greenville

One can’t forget the 60 foot falls nestled along scenic Reedy River feet away from downtown Greenville. Relaxing with loved ones along the river walk has become a weekend tradition for the Upstate capitol city.

You can picnic, walk, jog, bike, feed ducks and geese, play freesbie with the dog and enjoy the free entertainment at the pavilion.

Little kids love splashing about at the man-made water park or take part in classical story tales at the Children’s Garden. Everyone is invited to a funny quirky “Mice on Main” scavenger hunt downtown and to greet elephants, lions and giraffes at nearby Greenville Zoo!

History lovers and art collectors must visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate“. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (centuries old 4 story mansion and farm)

Safe hiking and happy waterfall viewing in the Carolinas!

“I feel lucky!” gem hunting fun at Cowee Ruby Mine in Franklin (things to do with kids near the border and Foothills Trail)

Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunting for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee State Park, Caribbean-like Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park and the adventurous Foothills Trail. Who knows you may be the next “romancing the stone” star!

Tips to know before you go

1. Stop at the Visitors Center in Franklin to get the free “Guide to Rockhounding” little brochure with a map and summary description of all the gem-mines and shops in the area. Showing off the prizesIt really helps plan ahead and will save you time and headaches.

2. Whichever mine you decide to visit, if you have little kids, avoid the drama and get the “enriched, sure find” kid-friendly bucket. It provides them with a rainbow of big and colorful stones they’ll be eager to show off later. At these mines the rubies and sapphires are very small in size and quite dull looking. I almost threw one away, luckily the guy at the flume alerted me about it (and saved my “fortune”!)

3. If you got to Franklin after a long drive and need to unwind stop by the nice Big Bear Park playground on the Little Tennessee River Greenway. It’s conveniently located off of Hwy 64, and allows children to relax before (or after) the big hunt.

Here are the highlights and the customized Google Map with some of the gem mines

Cowee Mtn Ruby Mine and Shop – this is where all these photos are from.
• Free admission. Opened daily 9 AM to 6 PM from March to December 15.
• Free mining Getting mining instructionsinstructions and stone identification;
• Gem cutting and mounting on jewelry for extra price.
• $5 for dirt bucket; $10 kid souvenir bucket
• The whole thing goes by pretty quickly. We finished in about 15 minutes (we got the souvenir enriched one)
• More info at www.coweemtnrubymine.com or by phone (828)-369-5271.
Address 6771 Sylva Road Franklin, North Carolina 28734

Jackson Hole Gem Mine and Gift Shop (not the ski resort!)

• Likely the mine with the most scenic location: on Hwy 64 near the Cullasaja Falls and the locals’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot.
• Claims to have cleanest mine around “ free from the red clay mud”
• Open all year around
• $10 for the 5 lbs bucket
• Custom mount in 14k gold or sterling silver jewelry
• More info at www.jacksonholegemmine.com or by phone (828)-524-5850. Address 9770 Highlands Road, Highlands, NC 28741

Sheffield Mine

• The most famous (featured on the Travel Channel) Huge ametist inside the shop at Cowee and one of the few native mine in the area. It’s also the most crowded. Likely you will need to wait in line to get your turn. Better be there early.
• Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM from April thru October. Last customer for native mining is accepted at 3 PM (it takes 2 hour to do the real thing)
• $15 admission ($10 for children and seniors) includes 2 starter buckets. Group discounts available (requires advance notice)
• More info at www.sheffieldmine.com or by phone (828)-369-8383. Address 385 Sheffield Farms Road. Follow the driving directions as noted on their website.

More Area Attractions

Highlands Botanical Garden, arts and crafts and Playhouse Theater

Gold panning (and gem mining) at Gold City Mine located between Franklin and Sylva. May be too tedious task for younger kids.

• Waterfalls – Issaqueena, Whitewater, Table Rock, Raven Cliff, Bridal Veil

• Dillsboro Great Smokey Mountains Railroad – Fun themed train rides

• Dupont Forest State Park – easy access to waterfalls and hiking trails

Happy and lucky mining in western North Carolina!