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A South Carolina Revolutionary War Road Trip: Part 1 – The Olde English District

Explore national park sites and historic sites on this Revolutionary War road trip through South Carolina's Olde English District.

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South Carolina Revolutionary War Road Trip
10-Part Series

Did you know more Revolutionary War battles happened in South Carolina than in any other state? Explore the battlefields, historic sites, and museums with this 10-part series of road trips across the state.

Camden fell to British control a few months after Charleston in 1780. Finally, five long years into a war Parliament thought wouldn’t last a month, the mighty British army had a foothold in the south. But it wouldn’t last – and the bold moves by Cornwallis ultimately led to British defeat.

Outside of Charleston, Camden was the most important city in South Carolina. It was a crossroads of trade between the Native Americans and coastal communities, the administrative center of the frontier district, and the most established town more than fifty miles from the coast. And that’s precisely why the British wanted it.

This road trip begins with a trip to the best Revolutionary War visitor center in South Carolina, guided tours of historic homes, and self-guided tours through the charming town. Discover interesting local foods, shop for antiques, and hit the road through the Olde English District to visit significant American Revolution battlefields.

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Road Trip Map

Get all the details at a glance to help plan the road trip. Use the map below to see the route and save it to your smartphone to use on the road trip.
Camden
start
Kings Mountain National Military Park
end
116 miles
total distance
2-3 days
suggested duration
9
itinerary stops
5
Destinations

How to use this map | Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the (very faint) star at the end of the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

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Packing Essentials

It’s always a good idea to have these essential items for a road trip. But for this road trip, you might also want to pack some of these essentials:

  • Garmin DriveSmart 86 – Give voice commands to this device for spoken turn-by-turn directions – works without cellular signal and comes preloaded with North America maps.
  • Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 32 oz. Bottle – Enjoy cool water at any time with this insulated stainless-steel water bottle. The wide mouth design features a screw-on lid for quick access and makes it easy to gulp water when you need it most.
  • Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Hiking Shoe – Keep your feet protected and ankles supported with these breathable, durable hiking shoes. Also available in women’s sizes.
  • National Park Service App – This official app brings all the information about the national park units to your smartphone. Quickly find hours of operation, road and trail closures, and things to do at any national park unit. Download on iOS or Android.
  • Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack – Pack everything you need for a day trip in this 30-liter lightweight backpack with dedicated water bottle holder and multiple pockets.
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Destination

Camden

Camden is the oldest inland town in South Carolina and the fourth oldest in the state. Founded in 1732 as Fredericksburg, the town boomed in the 1750s when Joseph Kershaw built saw, grist, and flour mills and developed a flourishing industry. The town was later renamed in honor of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl of Camden, an outspoken advocate for colonial rights in the British Parliament.

By the time of the Revolutionary War, it was the largest and wealthiest backcountry town and a vital link for the British Southern Strategy.

British General Lord Cornwallis wasted little time after the Fall of Charleston in May 1780. Within three months, the British flooded through the backcountry and captured Camden. After an ill-fated attempt by General Horatio Gates, the British were left in control of South Carolina – and Camden was their supply link to invade North Carolina.

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READ MORE: 10 Fun Things to Do When You Visit Camden, SC

Camden is a town of many facets. It’s the birthplace of the Boykin Spaniel, a medium-sized dog for hunting in the swamps. It’s the home of the annual Carolina Cup steeplechase horse racing event and the National Steeplechase Museum at the Springdale Racecourse. And it’s the best place to learn about the Revolutionary War in South Carolina.

Books on Broad and Coffee has an excellent selection of local interest books to help you discover more about the area. Menagerie is a multi-level antique store guaranteed to keep you busy for an hour or two, browsing its vast selection of furniture, household items, and collectibles. Littlefield Growers is a locally owned nursery with gorgeous planters and hanging baskets.

Did You Know?

King Hagler was a Catawba chief born in the Waxhaws region along the Carolinas border in 1700. He was an instrumental Native American leader who fought for land rights and negotiated treaties for his people. At the Town Green in Camden, a statue by Maria J. Kirby-Smith depicts King Hagler meeting Joseph Kershaw during early negotiations for the land on which Camden was founded.

Broad and Vine is Camden’s first self-serve wine bar. Browse their selection of available wines, press a button on a built-in display, and your glass is filled with the selected amount. Order a charcuterie board, get cozy in the comfortable upholstered chairs, and enjoy an evening in the gorgeous space.

Steeplechase Sports Bar & Grill can be a great place for food if you don’t mind the cacophony of noises. Fantastic food is a plus for the horse racing-themed bar. Georgia Megadrosos serves hot pies at Camden House of Pizza, the local restaurant her parents started thirty years ago. Sam Kendall’s is Camden’s casual upscale dining experience with hardwood floors, brick walls, and meticulously prepared meals served on white plates.

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Pro Travel Tip

Skip the parallel parking on Broad Street and find ample public parking behind the row of businesses. Turn into the parking area from Rutledge or Market Streets. If you need directions, search for “Camden Town Square” in your navigation app.

Where to Stay in Camden

Holiday Inn Express offers suites perfect for families, an outdoor swimming pool, and complimentary breakfast. Book with Expedia.com

Hampton Inn offers an outdoor swimming pool, clean and comfortable rooms, and the best complimentary breakfast of any major hotel chain. Book with Booking.com or Expedia.com

Itinerary Suggestion

Camden was one of the most significant South Carolina cities during the American Revolution. With key stops like the Revolutionary War Visitor Center, Historic Camden, and the Camden Archives, this is the place where you’ll want to spend two nights.

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The museum is filled with incredibly realistic figures that nearly bring the history to life.

No. 1

Revolutionary War Visitor Center

Any adventure exploring the American Revolution in South Carolina should start at the Revolutionary War Visitor Center in Camden. “This is the visitor center for the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War,” Rickie Good, museum manager, explained.

Opened in 2021, the visitor center features information on the people, places, and events of the Southern Campaign. A timeline of events, results of the battles, and locations around the state help put the information into perspective.

And lifelike mannequins dressed as British Regulars, American Continentals, and Patriot militia help bring it to life.

Plan to spend about an hour learning about the region’s history leading up to the American Revolution, how the Revolutionary War played out across South Carolina, and the places you must visit to learn more about the war.

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Significant Battles of the Southern Campaign

The Southern Strategy was a British plan during the Revolutionary War to capture Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia – the wealthiest of the colonies – and abandon the northern colonies to the rebels. Here’s a list of the major battles fought in the Southern Campaign:

  • Battle of Savannah – December 19, 1778
  • Battle of Kettle Creek – February 14, 1779
  • Siege of Savannah – September 16 – October 9, 1779
  • Siege of Charleston – March 29 – May 12, 1780
  • Battle of Monck’s Corner – April 14, 1780
  • Battle of the Waxhaws – May 29, 1780
  • Battle of Huck’s Defeat – July 12, 1780
  • Battle of Rocky Mount – August 1, 1780
  • Battle of Hanging Rock – August 6, 1780
  • Battle of Camden – August 16, 1780
  • Battle of Fishing Creek – August 18, 1780
  • Battle of Musgrove’s Mill – August 18, 1780
  • Battle of Kings Mountain – October 7, 1780
  • Battle of Cowpens – January 17, 1781
  • Battle of Guilford Courthouse – March 15, 1781
  • Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill – April 25, 1781
  • Battle of Fort Motte – May 12, 1781
  • Siege of Augusta – May 22 – June 5, 1781
  • Siege of Ninety Six – May 22 – June 19, 1781
  • Battle of the Virginia Capes – September 5-9, 1781
  • Battle of Eutaw Springs – September 8, 1781
  • Battle of Yorktown – October 19, 1781

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The Kershaw-Cornwallis House is a recreation of the original plantation house built by Joseph Kersahw.
The Kershaw-Cornwallis House is a recreation of the original plantation house built by Joseph Kersahw.

Point of Interest

Historic Camden

After the Fall of Charleston in May 1780, the British quickly swept through the backcountry toward Camden. It was the most important town outside Charleston to control with intersecting trading routes needed to keep Cornwallis supplied. Camden was quickly captured in June, and Kershaw’s unfinished house was seized for use as the British headquarters.

Historic Camden is a 100-acre site preserving the grounds of the British year-long encampment. The site includes a recreation of the Kershaw-Cornwallis House, a rebuilt redoubt of the fort, and several historic structures from throughout the region. Revolutionary War Patriot Richard Drakeford built the 1800 Bradley House and the 1812 Drakeford House.

Purchase a self-guided tour to explore the grounds and structures at your own pace or a guided tour inside the Kershaw-Cornwallis House and learn about the history and people from the docent.

Did You Know?

Joseph Kershaw was a wealthy businessman who owned saw, grist, and flour mills and warehouses around Camden. During the Revolutionary War, Kershaw served as a regiment colonel for the Patriots. After being captured at the Fall of Charleston, he was banished to Bermuda.

While in exile, Kershaw mortgaged everything he owned to buy clothing and supplies for the Patriots. But the shipment was captured by the British enroute. After the war, Kershaw asked Congress and South Carolina to reimburse his losses, but without formal preapproval, his requests were denied. Kershaw died in his house in 1791, the only property he could retain.

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Point of Interest

Johann de Kalb’s Gravesite

In 1777, French military officers Baron Johann de Kalb and Marquis de Lafayette landed near Georgetown. They traveled along the King’s Highway to Philadelphia, where they offered their services to the Continental Congress. It was nearly two years before de Kalb was given command of regiments of Maryland and Delaware Continentals.

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He was then ordered to meet General Horatio Gates in North Carolina before marching to Camden. During the disastrous Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, de Kalb was mortally wounded. He was treated by Dr. Isaac Alexander, but three days after the battle, he died from his wounds.

Initially, de Kalb was buried with full honors near the Quaker Cemetery. But in 1825, his body was reinterred at Bethesda Presbyterian Church beneath a monument designed by famous South Carolina architect Robert Mills. On March 8, 1825, Marquis de Lafayette visited Camden on his whirlwind country tour and attended the reinterment ceremony.

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The monument can be seen from DeKalb Street. Parallel parking is available along the street if you want to take a few moments to capture some photos or study the monument’s architecture.

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No. 2

Camden Archives & Museum

Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, wealthy businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie sponsored the construction of over 1,600 one-room libraries. These “Carnegie Libraries” were built in towns without any other access to books. Today, the former library is home to the Camden Archives & Museum.

The archives contain some of the best genealogical research materials in South Carolina. It’s an excellent place for tracing your ancestry and is particularly great for learning more about Revolutionary War ancestors. The museum features a collection of antique guns and a room dedicated to local history about the American Revolution.

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Point of Interest

Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill

The Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill was the beginning of the end of British dominance in South Carolina. Less than two months after General Nathaniel Greene forced General Lord Cornwallis into a victory offset by heavy losses at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Greene arrived in Camden. With just over 1,500 men, he was ready to begin a campaign to liberate the southern state.

British Lieutenant Colonel Lord Rawdon had only 900 men at his disposal after dispatching a large portion of his army to chase after Francis Marion. Despite the odds, the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill on April 25, 1781, was a British victory. But like Cornwallis at Guilford Courthouse, Rawdon suffered heavy losses that forced him to retreat from Camden.

After a year of occupation, Camden was free of British control.

Today, Hobkirk Hill consists of residential neighborhoods and commercial zones. The American Battlefield Trust is in the process of preserving a portion of the battlefield, but there is nothing to stop and see yet.

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No. 3

Camden Battlefield and Longleaf Pine Preserve

The Fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780, was the Americans’ biggest defeat of the Revolutionary War. But it wasn’t their lowest point of morale. That came three months later when General Horatio Gates and his self-titled “Grand Army” clashed with British General Lord Cornwallis near Camden.

In the early hours of August 16, 1780, the advance guards of both armies collided with each other along a route between Camden and Charlotte. Within a few hours, Gates arrived with his 3,700 soldiers, weary from a hefty march. Then, Cornwallis arrived with his 2,200 professional soldiers.

From the start of the battle, Gates committed horrendous tactical errors. Pitting untrained Virginia and North Carolina militia against seasoned British soldiers of the 23rd Regiment of Foot, the left flank collapsed within minutes. The militia fled the battlefield and were soon joined by their commanding officer, General Gates, who scampered all the way to Charlotte by midnight.

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READ MORE: 9 Small Towns (and 1 Small City) You Need to Visit in South Carolina’s Olde English District

Although the frightened militia fled from the battle, General Johann de Kalb held his ground. But then his horse was shot out from under him, and the Frenchman suffered eight bayonet and three bullet wounds.

After the Battle of Camden was over, 1,000 Americans were dead, and there were no Continental soldiers left in South Carolina. The British had complete control, and General Lord Cornwallis was ready to move into North Carolina. But before he could savor the victory for long, ragtag groups of backcountry militiamen led by Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter would disrupt all his plans.

Flat Rock Road cuts through the middle of the battlefield today. On the side of the two-lane highway, a large parking area contains a marker dedicated to de Kalb. A few trails meander through the longleaf pine forest. The 0.7-mile West Battlefield Loop Trail explores the battlefield across the road, while the 0.4-mile Great Road Trail parallels the highway.

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Creighton’s Creamery is the perfect place to take a break from driving and enjoy a savory dessert.

Destination

Kershaw

Founded in 1888, Kershaw has never had a population of over 2,000. But it’s worth visiting for lunch and dessert while road-tripping along US Highway 521.

Kershaw House of Pizza features hand-tossed pizza dough topped with whatever you like. You can order anything from a personal size to a large, choose from about a dozen toppings, and you can stromboli or oven-hot sub sandwich.

After a satisfying pizza pie for lunch, head over to Creighton’s Creamery for a savory dessert. In 2016, Kershaw natives Caty and Adam Eubanks began making homemade ice cream and rolling around neighborhoods in an ice cream truck. After enormous success, they moved their business into a brick-and-mortar store, where they served the delicious treat named after their son.

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No. 4

Buford Battleground

As Charleston was under siege from the British in early 1780, Colonel Abraham Buford marched his 350 Virginia Continentals across the Carolinas to aid the trapped city. But before he could arrive, Charleston surrendered. Buford decided to retreat back into North Carolina and await further orders.

General Lord Cornwallis dispatched Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his dreaded legion of 100 soldiers and 170 dragoons to capture Buford. Scrambling at an incredible pace, Tarleton caught up to Buford in the Waxhaws region near the border on May 29, 1780.

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Two very different stories emerged from the fateful encounter – one of the most effective uses of propaganda during the American Revolution. A Patriot surgeon named Brownfield claimed that Buford and his soldiers were attempting to surrender when Tarleton suddenly ordered them to be slaughtered. However, British soldiers from that battle claimed that Buford offered a white flag to discuss terms and then attempted to kill Tarleton.

Either way, the Battle of the Waxhaws is most frequently called the Buford Massacre. 113 Americans were killed, 150 wounded, and 53 captured. The battle earned Tarleton a reputation for giving no quarter – something Patriot militiamen would shout five months later at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

A 51-acre park preserves the Buford Battleground. A mass grave holding 84 bodies is circled by jagged rocks and marked with a short obelisk. Recently, the local high school debuted a new monument etched with the details of the battle. The high schoolers also landscaped the park and added picnic tables, making it an excellent stop on a road trip.

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Destination

Lancaster

Lancaster was a mostly untamed frontier called the New Acquisition District during the American Revolution. The town was founded in 1830 as the seat of the newly formed county. Robert Mills, the famous architect from Charleston, designed the courthouses in Lancaster and Camden and the De Kalb Monument.

Lancaster is an excellent place to park the car for an hour, stretch your legs, and treat yourself to savory food. Punky’s on Main is a family restaurant with plenty of seating and big portions for their meals. At 521 BBQ & Grill, the slow-cooked meats are smoked overnight and always fresh every day. If you arrive in town early enough, Leigh Anne’s Restaurant serves a fantastic lunch menu with daily specials.

Before leaving town, stop at Daily Grind Coffee Bar for a caffeinated drink to go, and then head over to Flavor Factory to take a few freshly baked donuts on the road.

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Point of Interest

Benford Brewing

When Bryan O’Neal opened Boxcar Brewing in 2012, he was promptly notified he had infringed on someone else’s trademark. Digging into his family’s history, O’Neal renamed his burgeoning brewery after a family name – Benford. The first Benford O’Neal immigrated through Charleston in the 1800s, and the name has been carried through the family today.

Benford Brewing is usually an out-of-the-way place to visit, about 20 minutes from the nearest interstate exit. But as it happens, on this road trip exploring the American Revolution, the route passes the brewery’s backyard.

The craft brewery uses natural spring water to produce quality beers in small batches. The tasting room is open by mid-afternoon Wednesday through Sundays. And on the weekends, food trucks frequently park nearby as live music takes to the wooden stage. It’s an excellent place to stop for a drink before continuing the historical road trip.

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No. 5

Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church

In the 1740s, Scots-Irish immigrants traveled into a region straddling the border of modern-day North Carolina and South Carolina. The European settlers named it the Waxhaw Region after the Native American tribe which lived in the area. In 1765, the growing settlement established the first congregation in the area and built the Waxhaws Meeting House.

A young Andrew Jackson was a notable attendee of services at the Presbyterian church.

The existing brick building was completed in 1896, the third church building on the site. The Old Waxhaw Cemetery spreads out from the church’s steps. A monument dedicated to Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, the future president’s mother, draws visitors’ attention.

However, the brilliant white grave markers surrounding the monument are only ceremonial. Kirk Johnston, manager of nearby Andrew Jackson State Park, explains, “The concept locally was to show that something happened in the area, but maybe not exactly where it occurred.”

Andrew’s brothers, Robert and Hugh, are buried in the cemetery in unmarked graves.

In frontier communities, churches were often the only public buildings – hence they were known as “meeting houses.” In 1780, the local militia gathered at the church to consider actions. In 1781, a British detachment marched from Camden and dispersed a militia gathering at the church. During the encounter, Andrew and Robert Jackson were captured.

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William Richardson Davie’s Gravesite

In the mid-1760s, William Richard Davie moved to the Waxhaws Region when his uncle, William Richardson, began his tenure as pastor of the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church. Davie attended Queen College in Charlotte and then graduated from the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton, in 1776.

When the Revolutionary War began, Davie returned home. He used an inheritance from his uncle to form his own militia. Commissioned as a major, Davie took part in local skirmishes at the Battle of Rocky Mount and the Battle of Hanging Rock. Davie used Andrew Jackson as a scout at the latter battle before attacking the 500 British troops.

After the war, Davie moved to North Carolina. He served as the state’s delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later served a term as governor. In 1805, he returned to South Carolina, where he died fifteen years later. The William Richardson Davie Memorial Plot is surrounded by a brick wall beneath shady trees beside the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church.

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The statue depicting a teenage Jackson on horseback was created by noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington.
The statue depicting a teenage Jackson on horseback was created by noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington.

No. 6

Andrew Jackson State Park

In the 1760s, Scots-Irish immigrants Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson joined thousands of others traveling along the Great Wagon Road south from Philadelphia. They settled on 200 acres in the Waxhaws Region and began farming the land.

But then Jackson was gravely injured while clearing land for the farm. He died just days before the birth of his son, Andrew.

Andrew Jackson was only eight years old when the American Revolution began. His first experience with the war followed the disastrous Battle of the Waxhaws. Injured soldiers were transported to the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church, where a makeshift field hospital was assembled.

Andrew and his older brother, Robert, volunteered as scouts for their uncle William Richardson Davie’s militia. But within a month, the boys were captured during a militia meeting at the church. They were marched to Camden and held captive. During their captivity, both contracted smallpox which left Andrew scarred for life.

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READ MORE: Discover a President’s Boyhood at Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster, SC

Another scar was the result of an infamous encounter with a British officer. When thirteen-year-old Jackson was ordered to clean an officer’s boots, he exclaimed, “Sir, I am a prisoner of war, and claim to be treated as such.” In response, the officer lashed out with his sword, leaving a deep gouge on Jackson’s face and arm.

Andrew and Robert were released to their mother’s care as the British evacuated Camden the following year. During the 50-mile journey home, Robert’s health began a downward spiral, and he died soon after returning home. Elizabeth then traveled to Charleston to tend the prisoners held on barges – she contracted “ship’s fever” and died.

At the start of the American Revolution, Andrew Jackson lived with his mother and two brothers on a quiet farm in the South Carolina frontier. But by the war’s end, he was an orphan destined to become president.

Andrew Jackson State Park is an excellent historical and outdoor recreation place. The one-room museum features exhibits on Jackson’s early life, his infamous encounter with the British officer, and the great debate over whether he was born in North Carolina or South Carolina. The park also features a lake and hiking trails to stretch your legs after a long car ride.

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No. 7

Landsford Canal State Park

After leaving the history behind at Andrew Jackson State Park, take a short detour for a nice hike at Landsford Canal State Park.

In 1754, Thomas Land purchased property along the Catawba River. During the Revolutionary War, a shallow ford in the river was frequently crossed by armies commanded by British General Lord Cornwallis and Patriot General Thomas Sumter.

READ MORE: Discovering the Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies at Landsford Canal State Park in South Carolina

In the 1800s, Robert Mill designed a series of canals to aid navigation on the river. The 1.25-mile Canal Trail retraces the route of the early canals, where remnants of some can still be seen on the forest floor.

The 0.75-mile Nature Trail follows the river’s edge, connecting with the Canal Trail and leading to an observation deck. Every year about mid-May, thousands of spider lilies native to the nutrient-rich riverbed bloom. The dark green stems are contrasted by thousands of brilliant white blooms over the rushing water.

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Covered by the shade of giant trees by day, and lit by hundreds of lights at night, Main Street in downtown Rock Hill is a gorgeous place to visit.

Destination

Rock Hill

Rock Hill is the largest city in South Carolina’s Olde English District. But during the American Revolution, it was merely an unsettled frontier. In fact, no one settled in the area until the mid-1800s when the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad was built between the Queen City and Columbia.

With the arrival of the first passenger train at the depot two miles from the “rocky hill” in 1852, a town was founded and has grown ever since.

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Rock Hill is about thirty minutes from Uptown Charlotte, making it a popular escape from the urban jungle to the quieter countryside. The downtown area is walkable, with wide sidewalks and shady trees. Streetside parking is free. And there is always something happening at Fountain Park.

Friends of the York County Library operates a used bookstore with an enormous selection of gently used books. Overhead Station is an excellent place to find local arts and crafts for your home. And at Main Street Bottle Company, you can mix and match six-packs for craft beers from the dozens of local breweries.

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READ MORE: 10 Awesome Things to Do in Rock Hill, South Carolina

You won’t go hungry from a lack of options in Rock Hill. At Kounter Dining, owner and chef Rob Masone prepares meals in a historic building where he draws particular attention to the countertop made infamous during the Civil Rights Movement. Around the corner, Millstone Pizza & Taphouse serves wood-fired New York-style Neapolitan pizzas paired with local craft beers. On Saturdays and Sundays, The Flipside Restaurant has one of the best brunch menus in South Carolina. And at Legal Remedy, you can savor the food and craft beer with outdoor seating.

Get your morning brew at Knowledge Perk Coffee Company in a gorgeous 4,500-square-foot chic industrial space. Opened in 2019, the coffee shop roasts and serves beans from organic growers worldwide. Then, stop by Amelie’s French Bakery and Café for French-style baked goods.

Where to Stay in Rock Hill

Hampton Inn offers comfortable rooms and suites perfect for families, an outdoor swimming pool, and the best complimentary breakfast of any major hotel chain. Book with Booking.com or Expedia.com

Fairfield Inn is an excellent choice, with comfortable rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. Book with Booking.com or Expedia.com

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No. 8

Historic Brattonsville

William Bratton took the long road south. The descendant of Irish immigrants lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina before arriving in South Carolina in the 1760s. Around 1765, he married Martha Robinson and began life on the frontier.

He joined the local militia as a captain when the American Revolution began. But in May 1780, the Battle of the Waxhaws – commonly called Buford’s Massacre – weakened the morale of the backcountry militia. Bratton nearly left the militia but instead recommitted and reported to General Thomas Sumter.

After the Fall of Charleston and the disastrous Battle of Camden, Colonel Banastre Tarleton was left to subdue the rebellion in the backcountry. He ordered Captain Christian Huck, a Loyalist attorney from Philadelphia, to chase down Bratton and others.

On July 12, 1780, Huck arrived at Bratton’s plantation. After angrily confronting Martha and threatening her and her family, Huck moved his command to the nearby Williamson’s plantation to spend the night. That’s where Bratton found them the following day.

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READ MORE: Travel Guide to the Battle of Huck’s Defeat Reenactment at Historic Brattonsville in South Carolina

The Battle of Huck’s Defeat lasted less than an hour. The British were caught off guard in the early morning hours. Huck burst from the plantation house and jumped on his horse, only to be gunned down almost immediately. 90 British were killed or captured, and Huck’s vengeful march through the backcountry was ended.

Historian Walter Edgar notes that “the Battle of Huck’s Defeat was Cornwallis’s first setback in South Carolina.”

Historic Brattonsville preserves an 800-acre site with over 30 historic structures on the former Bratton plantation. Among the historic structures is the significantly modified two-room Colonel William Bratton House, the original home built around 1766.

Day trip visitors the historic began with a video introduction in the comfortably climate-controlled visitors center. Then, a self-guided walking tour spans the property, winding through the structures and recreated gardens. On weekends, docents demonstrate the various crafts of frontier people.

And every July, reenactors sporting brilliant red coats put up a valiant effort against a charging Patriot militia. And Captain Christian Huck dies again.

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Destination

York

Yorkville began as an important stagecoach hub for travel across the South Carolina Upcountry. Park anywhere along North Congress Street and enjoy a short walk around the York Historic District. Get coffee at Greenhouse Coffee or browse the boutiques and antique shops.

Get lunch at The Garden Café, a local restaurant opened by Teresa James in 1995. Diners enter through a country gift shop packed with home décor and baked goods. The restaurant features a southern chic atmosphere and a savory menu of steaks, sandwiches, and burgers.

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Point of Interest

Kings Mountain State Park

Kings Mountain State Park was created when the federal government donated over 6,000 acres on Kings Mountain to South Carolina. The park is one of the most underrated in the state, with hidden features only the most curious discover.

Go hiking on one of the park’s trails, like the easy ¾-mile Historic Farm Trail or the moderately difficult 5.8-mile Ridgeline Trail connecting to North Carolina’s Crowder Mountain State Park. The 16-mile Kings Mountain National Recreation Trail is a hefty hike looping through the national military park next door – this trail circles the Revolutionary War battlefield.

An easier activity is a leisurely walk through the Living History Farm. The recreation of an 1800s frontier farm includes a barn, cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop.

The campground is one of the best in the state. 115 sites include electrical and water hookups shaded by a thick canopy of leaves. RV sites make parking your fifth wheel or travel trailer easy, or you can simply unpack the tent on the tent pad.

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No. 9

Kings Mountain National Military Park

Like Captain Christian Huck’s orders, Scottish-born Colonel Patrick Ferguson was tasked with subduing the rebellion in the backcountry. In mid-1780, Ferguson threatened militias west of the Appalachian Mountains, declaring “he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.”

The threat did little to dissuade the militias from mustering and instead hastened them into action. In September 1780, Colonels William Campbell, Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, and Joseph Winston mustered men from modern-day Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

The “Overmountain Men” began a 330-mile march to confront Ferguson on Kings Mountain in a pivotal battle that changed the course of the American Revolution.

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Did You Know?

When the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail was established in 1980, it was the first national historic trail on the east coast. Maintained by an army of volunteers, visitors can drive the Commemorative Motor Route to see various muster grounds and historic sites and hike 87 miles of the historic trail.

Begin your visit to Kings Mountain National Military Park at the visitor center. A film featuring reenactors portrays the battle on the forested mountain summit – it’s one of the best National Park Service films about the Revolutionary War. Browse through their impressive collection of books in the gift shop, and then pick up a park brochure before hitting the trail.

The 1.5-mile Battlefield Trail loops around the mountain’s summit. The paved trail features dozens of wayside exhibits, monuments, and memorials about the battle. You’ll see a towering monument dedicated to the Patriots who fought there and the gravesite of Patrick Ferguson, who died near the end of the one-hour battle.

Recalling the Battle of Kings Mountain, Thomas Jefferson said it was the “turn of the tide of success.” It was the beginning of the end of the British in South Carolina. And just over a year later, General Lord Cornwallis surrendered at the Battle of Yorktown.

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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