Early days of football: “Mud, sweat and cheers” at the Upcountry History Museum

“A field of carnage” Anderson Independent Farmer 1915, about the Clemson – Auburn game

To this day football remains one of the toughest and most unforgiving team sports games in America. And yet it is a far cry from its literally “bloody” beginnings. The Upcountry History Museum in downtown Greenville showcases the fascinating world of South Carolina football, from the 1880s through today. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors and college students, $3 children 4-18 and free those under 4.

The father of American football
“From ocean to ocean he is known as the father of American football, as the lover and upholder of all manly sports, as the prophet of physical well-being in the happily efficient life.” Dean Lebaron Russell Briggs

Walter Chauncey camp was born in New Haven, Connecticut.

The man who transformed American football

Walter Camp The Father of American Football

From 1876 to 1881, Camp played football for Yale (being a captain for 3 years). From 1882 to 1910 he served as an advisor to the Yale and Stanford football coaches.

Throughout his life Camp played a major role in the establishment of American football. He led the American Football Rules Committee and helped establish the NCAA. He invented the quarterback position, the scrimmage, and the forward pass. He reduced the number of players on the field from 15 to 11. He was responsible for the selection of the first All-American team.

Originally Camp aspired to become a doctor. However he left the Yale Medical School after two years and instead he began his career at New Haven Clock Company as a clerk. When he died, Camp was the company’s chairman and president. A monument honors his memory in front of the Yale Bowl, the home of the Yale football team.

The wild, wild west: rules, recruiting and wacky formations
“It was a common practice for partisan of certain larger institutions to make almost regular annual campaigns for drawing players away from smaller colleges.” American College Athletics 1929

Although football rules were codified by 1890s problems persisted with how to call off sides, what constituted a pass, what was a legal block and fair play on the field. At the line of scrimmage it was common for players to use their fists on their opponents. Compounding the problems, for a long time there was only one referee on the field.

The flying wedge
“What a grand play!…half a ton of bone and muscle coming into collision with a man weighing 160 or 170 pounds.” – New York Times, November 30, 1892 describing the first use of the flying edge at a Harvard – Yale game.

Football carnage early 20th century

The flying wedge came crushing down


The flying edge was introduced in 1892 at a Harvard – Yale game. It consisted of two wings, the biggest linemen going in motion before four lighter players. Both wings would head at an angle toward the team captain, who would hand the ball to the halfback.

Once the two angles converged the ball carrier would follow the wedge down the field. Smaller defensive fronts could be overwhelmed with such a formation and often suffered severe injuries.

Within two years of its introduction in 1892 the “Wedge” was declared illegal. A modified version, in which a mass of players could pull, push and even punch its way through a defense with the ball carrier remained legal. This formation continued through most of 1910s.

The forward pass
“Until 1910 the plan was to put the man catching the forward pass out of commission before he got his hands on the ball. This football season may ‘make or break’ the forward pass” – The State Oct. 1, 1910.

Until 1906 the only way to advance the ball was by a lateral, running with it or kicking it. In an effort to reduce injury the pass was introduced. There were restrictions: the receiver could be blocked before the ball ever reached him (some protection was given to the receiver in 1910), you can only throw the ball a maximum of 20 yards and you had to be at least 5 years behind the line of scrimmage. Because of penalties and the large ball size many coaches used the forward pass infrequently. In 1912 the ball size was reduced and by 1940s most pass restrictions were dropped.

Safety gear 100 years evolution
Football players wore very little protection in the early games. In 1894, a doctor predicted “instant insanity” to a player if he was struck on the head again. A shoemaker in Annapolis, Maryland made the first leather helmet. It was not made mandatory for college football until 1939. Leather helmets guarded against injury to some extent however they were highly unreliable.

Helmet and pads design changes over 100 years

Tough business to be a football player in the 1900s

In the 1950s colored plastic helmets became popular and greatly reduced head injuries. In the 1970s improvements included inside air pockets and a four point chin strap.

In 2002 Riddell Sports “Revolution” helmet became the first major innovation to protective head-gear in 25 years.
With a spherical shape designed specifically to reduced concussions, head injuries were reduced by 30%. Although injuries still occur today football players are much safer than they were 100 years ago.

Pads – During the late 1890s some players put cushioning

Mud sweat and cheers exhibit Upcountry History Museum

What a silly looking man

under their sweaters, but their teammates often made fun of them. Leather shoulder and hip pads became common in the 1910s and 1920s as players and coaches became more aware of injuries.

By 1950s padding became more sophisticated yet also added some risks. The plastic will get dangerously hot and players suffered a high numbers of heat related injuries and even death. Over the years improvements were made and in the 1990s air-conditioned shoulder pads were introduced.

Today pads are specialized for different positions. Quarterback pads have fewer flaps to enable more arm movement and their larger size give ribs added protection from tackles. Running backs and receiver have smaller, lighter and more flexible pads to allow freedom of body movement.

Football comes to the Palmetto State
“On Saturday morning, December 14, 1889, the foot ball teams of Furman University and Wofford College played a very interesting and exciting game at the Encampment Grounds, Spartanburg, S.C.” Wofford College Journal, February 1890.

Although football was played back in the 1860s in the Northeast it took almost 30 years for it to arrive in South Carolina.

Football begins and the rest is history...

Furman - Wofford was the first football game played in South Carolina in 1889

The first documented game took place in 1889 between Furman and Wofford with little publicity.

Yet by 1910 college football had become a major fall event on most South Carolina campuses. The Citadel (1905) and Erskine (1915) were the two of the last ones in the state to introduce varsity football. As each school tried to get better and win games, student and alumni became increasingly passionate about recruiting. During the first decades of the game the player captain ran the team with a faculty member as an advisor. The full-time football coach was many years away.

The Purple Hurricane, Furman glory in mid 1920s
After playing in the state’s first ever football game, Furman struggled to maintain a winning season. The program was actually suspended from 1903 through 1912, when strong appeals from students brought re-instated it.

The “Purple Hurricane” came back roaring! In the 1920s Furman dominated the state competitions, winning the South Carolina Championship Cup, seven times through 1932.

Greatest Furman team ever

The Purple Hurricane played in and won the first Orange Bowl


In 1926, one of the biggest victories of the era came over heavily favored Georgia. Winning 14-6, Furman made a Georgia journalist to make good on his promise if his favorites lost. He walked 101 miles from Athens to Greenville where Furman students and town’s people greeted him as a “great sport”.

A year later, Furman had one of its best seasons ever, defeating Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina and Duke. The team received an invitation to play at Coral gables in Florida in what will later became the “Orange Bowl”. Furman beat Miami 38-7.

Bill Laval, became the only coach in the state history to lead three different colleges Furman, South Carolina and Newberry.

Nightime football frenzy begins in the Palmetto State

1929 ball from the first night game in South Carolina between Furman and Erskine

For most South Carolinians football revolves around its biggest and most accomplished schools South Carolina and Clemson. Read about the 100 plus years history of the state’s most heated football rivalry.

Note: Historic data, pictures and quotes used in this post are from the “Mud, Sweat & Cheers” exhibit.

Got mill skills? Be a doffer at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

Can you doff it? It’s not as easy as it looks. How about doing it over, and over, and over?

In late 19th century and early 20th century children worked, sometimes up to 14 hours a day, in hot, lint-filled, and extremely loud textile mills for a meager pay. If that wasn’t enough, in the 1920s, mill owners started deploying “the stretch-out” – machinery was sped up to increase workers production (and the owners profits) during an already grueling work week.

Finally, in 1933, The Cotton Textile Code of the National Recovery Act, set a 40-hour work week, a $12 minimum weekly wage, and put an end to child labor.

Learn all about “The Textile Capital of the World” at the Upcountry History Museum in downtown Greenville. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 4-18 and free for those 3 and under.

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!

What kids, adults and even pets love to do at Oconee State Park (a fun and affordable family vacation in SC)

Recently I spent an extraordinary week with my 4 years old at the Oconee State Park in beautiful Carolina Upcountry. If you wonder about what to do, where to go and what places to visit while vacationing in the South Carolina mountains then read along.

Free activities
• Hike the easygoing 1 mile loop trail to enjoy gorgeous views around the lake. Lassie in the canoe!
Serious trekkers are rewarded with the start of the famous 80 mile Foothills Trail.
• Stop by the playground where little ones can run around and you can picnic, volleyball and relax by the lake.
• Visit the interpretive room to learn about the very rare chestnut and the versatile hickory trees. Centuries ago chestnut trees graced our forests from northern Appalachian Mountains all the way to Mississippi. The wood was resistant to rot and easy to split thus it was used for building fences and railroads. Legend has it a 20 foot rail could be split with a single wedge! Chestnut was a valuable source to produce the acid used for tanning leather. Back then, entire communities depended on the “acid” factories. In 1904 people in New York started to see trees being killed by blight and by 1930s all the trees were almost extinct.

Teen jumping in the lake At Oconee you can still spot stumps of this once majestic tree. Hickory, a truly American tree (there is only one other specy in eastern China), is quite abundant, with four varieties thriving at the Oconee park. Its wood has an unequal combination of strength, elasticity and toughness making it the major raw material for producing sporting goods. Hickory it’s also used to flavor barbecue.
• Swim Fri to Sun(11 AM to 5 PM). Lifeguards on duty. Bring some flotation device to keep little kids entertained. Older kids keep themselves busy at the diving platform
• Chase geese and ducks around. May not seem like much to you but trust me little ones never get tired of it. Don’t worry; no animals get harmed…when they had enough they just take off.

Activities under $5 and $10
• Putt-putt golf: $1.50 per game
• Pedal boats: $5 / hour (go with #7 the red sparkling one)
• Boating and fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Like paradise at Oconee lake

The sign says $10 / half-day or $20 / whole day. I paid $3 for an hour of kayaking. Cabin renters can get a “John” boat for the whole week for $50. Beware private boats are not allowed on the park lake, only rental fishing boats.You need a SC fishing license. The lake has excellent bass, bream, catfish and trout fishing.
• Friday night Square Dancing at the Barn: $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Tips to know before you go
1. There are 2 things you MUST bring along to keep little ones entertained in the evenings: a portable or car DVD player and a flashlight.

2. There is no TV and the cell signal is almost null. Those of you who can’t survive without the world wide web, the Chick-fill-A in Seneca has free Wifi Internet and an awesone indoor playground.

3. Take advantage of the fire pit and grill and try to have a fire every night. It’s priceless. You don’t have to cook much; hot-dogs followed by marshmallows will do just fine. You can get a stack of wood cheaply from the stands along Hwy 28 that leads to the park.

4. Go to Ingles in Walhalla for grocery shopping and to Wal-Mart in Seneca for anything else…

Area Attractions
Here are some suggestions on things to do while vacationing at Oconee. Check and print this custom Google Map with all the attractions listed below. Everything is less than an hour drive and most of them are FREE to attend.
Walhalla Trout Fish Hatchery – see the life stages of, feed and even fish three species of trout
• Visit the centuries old Oconee Historic Station and Hagood Mill the oldest continuous operating grist mill in the Carolina.
• Learn how electricity is made and nuclear reactors works at Duke’s World of Energy museum.
• See the legendary Issaqueena and the breathtaking Whitewater waterfalls (highest in the East).
• Go to Lake Jocassee at Devils Fork State Park for year around swimming, boating and even scuba-diving. This is the finest fishing place in the Southeast.
• Mine for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC. Make sure to stop near Cullahasa Falls on Hwy 64 (between Highlands and Franklin) for some awesome rock-sliding in the river.
• Admire country largest collection of nature-based sculptures and hundreds of exotic ornamental plants at the SC Botanical Garden (located on the Clemson University campus).
• Journey back in time and shop for incredible antiques at historic Pendleton, the Charleston of the Upstate! Check out Farmer’s Hall, Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula, Woodburn and Old Stone Church.

Lake Jocassee, a mini “Caribbean” vacation in the South Carolina Upcountry (family almost free things to do)

The Buzz
As soon as you step on the beach at Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park you feel like you’re in one of the fanciful Caribbean islands travel posters: Lake Jocassee beach entrance crystal clear blue waters bordered by spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains covered in lush green forests and a sun-kissed beach with a pinkish “sand” to tickle your toes.

All for just $2 daily admission or even free with a SC State Park pass.

That’s a paradise weekend gateway on the cheap (pardon me…”at a huge discount”) worth shouting about! 🙂

Tips to know before you go
1. Use your State Park guest tag (the one you hang on the rear-view mirror of your car) to any other State Parks as long as it’s still valid. During our week stay at Oconee State Park I used the tag to get in for free at Table Rock, Keowee and Devils Fork.

2. Bring life jackets, especially if you have young kids. The water has a very narrow portion to stand up safely. Only 10 feet from the shore there is a steep drop and you can no longer touch the ground.

Best to have at least 2 adults keeping constant watch on the children. With no lifeguard on the beach you’re pretty much on your on.

3. Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen. If possible bring an umbrella. There is no shade on the beach and the sun gets scorching in the summer.

4. It takes quite a hike through some big rocks to walk to and from the beach, so wear something comfortable and sturdy. If you’re not in a mood for exercising best to bring a cooler along with all the necessary refreshments.
Boys having fun at Lake Jocassee
5. At the top of the stairs there is a snacks stand, an equipment rental office, restrooms and showers.

Ice-cream is the king and you can get it for $3.

Beware the showers inside the women’s restroom didn’t work when I was there (first week in June).

Things to do at Lake Jocassee and Devils Fork Park
1. Fish in one of the Southeast finest lakes offering trophy smallmouth bass, crappy and bluegill.

2. Scuba-dive or boat the 7,500-acre clear and deep reservoir lake with 75 miles of shoreline and four boat-launch areas each with generous parking.

3. Swim, tube, jet sky, canoe or kayak year around. Beware there is no lifeguard at the beach.

4. Hike the 1.5 mile easygoing Oconee Bell Nature Trail (named after the rare wildflower found along) or the 3.5 miles moderate Bear Cove Trail through the hardwood forest.

Lodging
The main lakeside campground has 59 paved sites with water and electrical hook-ups and 25 tent sites with elevated pads, picnic tables, grill pits. Nothing like napping on the water On the northern shore of the lake there is a primitive campsite accessible only by boat. These sites are available on a first come first served basis and you need to pack out what you packed in.

The park also offers 20 mountain villas with 2 and 3 bedrooms. They have TV, screened porches, and fully equipped kitchens. Best thing of all each villa has its private beach, boat ramp and parking area. One drawback pets are not allowed in or around the villas.

Free and Affordable Area Attractions:
• Duke’s Power World of Energy – kids learn how electricity is generated from water, coal and uranium. At Upper Whitewater Falls
Your best chance to safely get up close and personal to a nuclear reactor!
• Walhalla Fish Hatchery
Numerous waterfalls like the Upper and Lower Whitewater (highest in the East) and Issaqueena
• Oconee Historic Station, Hagood Mill and Pickens County Museum
• Ruby and sapphire gem hunting in Franklin, NC (less than 1 hour away, need to pay admission and gem bucket mining…expect $10-$20 per person)

• History lovers and art collectors go visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate” located near Clemson off of Hwy 28 and 76. 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, $6 admission fee), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (4 story mansion, $6 admission fee)

Where
Devils Fork is easily reached from S.C. 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway. Here is the exact address 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, SC 29676 and the Google Map. For more info and to make reservations call (864) 944-2639, or 1-866-345-PARK or visit the official state parks website

Have your beach mountain paradise at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina Upcountry!