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Poinsett's Bridge


Hidden within the mountains of South Carolina's Upstate Region is one of the most majestic stone arch bridges that you will ever see.  The Poinsett's Bridge was built in 1820 as part of what was then known as the State Road.  The State Road was a toll road that ran from Charleston through Columbia and into North Carolina.  Poinsett's Bridge was one of three stone bridges built within this particular segment, also known as the Saluda Mountain Road. (1)

Considered the oldest surviving bridge in the state - some speculate the entire southeast - Poinsett's Bridge rises 24 feet over Little Gap Creek. The bridge's length is 130 feet. Its most noteworthy feature is the 15' high x 7' wide Gothic arch over the creek.  The stepped parapet side walls are also a distinguishing feature.


Poinsett Bridge is named after Joel R. Poinsett - who served as the Director of the South Carolina Board of Public Works at the time.  Poinsett was a prominent South Carolinian who served as the first US Ambassador to Mexico.  However, he is most famous for being the individual who introduced the poinsettia to the United States.


The bridge is believed to have been designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument. But it is unknown if he did design it, as he joined the SC Board of Public Works in December 1820.  Mills was living in Baltimore throughout that year. (1)


The two other stone bridges built as part of the State/Saluda Mountain Road included a 60-foot-long bridge over the North Saluda River.  This bridge contained two elliptical arches and rose about 15 feet above the water.  The third bridge was a 50-foot singular circular arch bridge that crossed over Hodge Creek.  It rose 12.5' above the water. (1) The two sister bridges were destroyed in the 1950s during the construction of the North Saluda Reservoir.


Directions:
  • From SC 11 -  Turn Right onto Old SC 11. Follow Old 11 to Callahan Mountain Road.  Turn right onto Callahan Mountain Road.  Follow brown signs for Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve to the bridge - there is a parking lot near the bridge site.
  • From US 25 North (Greenville) - Take US 25 North to Old US 25 and exit right.  Follow Old US 25 to Callahan Mountain Road. Turn Right onto Callahan Mountain Road.  Follow brown signs for Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve to the bridge - there is a parking lot near the bridge site.
 
Sources & Links:
All photos taken by author, August 2007.

Update Log:
  • June 11, 2023 - Updated page format and fixed various spelling/grammatical errors.



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