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Historic Bridge and Ghostly Encounters

A historic bridge and ghostly encounters offer a unique day trip opportunity!

Entrance of Historic Poinsett Bridge in South Carolina
Entrance of Historic Poinsett Bridge in South Carolina (Photo Credit: Upcountry Lifestyle)

Once a highway for pioneers and a toll roll road to travelers, merchants, and traders, the Poinsett Bridge in Greenville County is known to be the oldest surviving bridge in South Carolina. It is also believed to be the oldest bridge in the Southeast!

Poinsett Bridge Photo
Poinsett Bridge (Photo Credit: Upcountry Lifestyle)

Poinsett Bridge located in Greenville County near Travellers Rest, on U.S. Highway 25, in South Carolina, was constructed in the year 1820. It is slightly off the beaten path in the northern mountains of Greenville County. Its impressive construction consists of large wedge-shaped rocks and was built without the use of concrete. Poinsett Bridge has a unique 14-foot Gothic arch and stretches 130 feet over Little Gap Creek.

Poinsett Bridge with Little Gap Creek flowing from between the Gothic arched bridge
Poinsett Bridge with Little Gap Creek flowing from between the Gothic arched bridge. (Photo Credit: Upcountry Lifestyle)

According to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, "The bridge was part of the State Road from Charleston through Columbia to North Carolina that was designed in 1817-1819 by Joel Poinsett, director of the South Carolina Board of Public Works. The bridge was named in his honor. Poinsett also served as Secretary of War, Minister to Mexico, and first president of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, forerunner of the Smithsonian."

South Carolina Department of Archives and History further states, "It is believed that Robert Mills designed the bridge. Mills became State Architect and Engineer for the South Carolina Board of Public Works in 1820. A brush drawing by Mills of a bridge with Gothic arches and keystone identical to those of Poinsett Bridge lends credence to the belief that Mills designed the bridge." It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 22, 1970.

Robert Mills, a native of South Carolina was an architect of several notable buildings including the Washington Monument and the U.S. Treasury Building. Mills also designed a courthouse in Greenville in the 1820s with gothic windows similar to the Poinsett Bridges archway.

Though the bridge is no longer in use as a public road, it is near a nature trail, and bridge visitors can walk across the bridge and marvel at its significant rich history and construction. Visitors can walk down the rugged stairs to the Little Gap Creek that flows beneath the Gothic arch of the Poinsett Bridge. The stairs are constructed from the same stone as the bridge and are not uniform in nature due to natural wear from the elements. It at times could be a slippery walk down to the creek, but once near the creek bed, visitors can walk up to the arch of the bridge and gaze upon its unique existence.

Poinsett Bridge also has a rich history painted in tales of folklore and ghostly presences. It has been shared that past encounters at the bridge at night have brought about a foggy sort of ghost that walks across the bridge. Visitors have felt the presence of a ghost and have heard screams coming from under the bridge. The ghost reportedly has touched the hands of a woman while she was opening the door of her car. Lights resembling lanterns have also been reported seen on and around the bridge at night.

According to Visit Greenville, "Over the years, the haunting tales and local legends surrounding the bridge have drawn several paranormal investigators to the area. In 2019, Poinsett Bridge was named one of the 30 most haunted places in America by the magazine Conde Nast Traveler."

During the day, the area around Poinsett Bridge hosts a magical setting of calmly flowing water, with moss covered stones, and large trees. Depending on the time of year, large monarch butterflies flying about further add to the magic of the bridge. There is a stone bench at the entrance, and there are many spots suitable for hosting a picnic while enjoying the scenery.

Dogs are welcome with visitors as long as they are on a leash with their owners. Visitors are not allowed to remove anything from the site in an effort to preserve Poinsett Bridge and the surrounding area.

Poinsett Bridge is owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and maintained by Greenville County.

Put on your hiking shoes, pack a lunch, and bring some water to experience a relaxing and magical day trip to historic Poinsett Bridge in Greenville County, South Carolina!

Works Cited

South Carolina Department of Archives and History. "National Register Properties in South Carolina". Poinsett Bridge. Accessed 27 Aug. 2023.

Visit Greenville SC. "Poinsett Bridge". Accessed 27 Aug. 2023.


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