The Poinsett Bridge is a relic of a bygone era when traveling across mountain ranges took weeks rather than hours.
Poinsett Bridge is the oldest bridge in South Carolina and perhaps in the entire southeastern United States. Named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, it was built in 1820 as part of a road from Columbia, South Carolina to Saluda Mountain. The stone bridge, which includes a 14-foot Gothic arch and stretches 130 feet over Little Gap Creek, may have been designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument. Though no longer in use, the bridge remains largely intact and is part of the 120-acre Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve. There is a nature trail a few hundred yards from the bridge. The bridge was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The area is called Traveler’s Rest. It’s easy to look at this bridge and understand how it got that name. Just imagine traveling from Greenville, South Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina (or vice versa) and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains blocking your path. I guess you had no choice but to stay in Traveler’s Rest before or after your journey, allowing your horses to rest and your wagons to be repaired.
If you like taking back roads to discover hidden gems like this, I highly recommend this book.