Old South Carolina State Road

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  South Carolina  Gotoarrow.png  Old South Carolina State Road

Old South Carolina State Road.png
The Old South Carolina State Road connected the colonial seaport of Charleston with several important internal South Carolina towns as well as the Catawba Trail and Old Cherokee Path on South Carolina's northern border near Landrum in Spartanburg County. Charleston was the largest European settlement in South Carolina, its capital, on the King's Highway, and the start of several other trails. The Catawba Trail connected the Old South Carolina State Road to Asheville, North Carolina and to the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap from Virginia and Tennessee into Kentucky. The Old Cherokee Path connected the Lower Cherokee Indian villages in South Carolina and Georgia with several Indian trails, especially the Great Valley Road an important migration route through Virginia to Tennessee. The Old South Carolina State Road was opened to European settlers in 1747. The Old South Carolina State Road began in Charleston County, South Carolina and ended near Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The exact route is uncertain and may have varied over the years. The length of the road was about 180 miles (290 km).[1]

Historical Background

Scots-Irish (that is Ulster-Irish), and German farmers migrating along the Great Valley Road (sometimes called the Great Wagon Road) through Virginia began settling the counties near the north end of the Old South Carolina State Road in the 1750s. However, during part of the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763 they decided to leave the Washington County, Virginia area. Some settlers after the war in Johnson County, Tennessee and Watauga County, North Carolina were pushing beyond the Proclamation line protecting Indians from intruders. Many of the re-settlers in the area became involved in the Watauga Association (a semi-automomous government) starting in 1772.[2] In turn this led to the tentative and short-lived State of Franklin.

The south end of the Old South Carolina State Road was in Oconee County, South Carolina at the convergence of several Indian trails and settler roads mostly leading to the lower Cherokee Indian village of Tugaloo across the Savannah River in Stephens County, Georgia. Tugaloo was built at or became the nexus of several trails along the Savannah River in Georgia and South Carolina. Before the Revolutionary War Cherokees resisted white settlements on their land. During the American Revolutionary War the Cherokee Indians took sides with the British. By 1777 Patriot forces had driven the Indians from the Lower Cherokee Villages in South Carolina, and Tugaloo, Georgia, and Patriot veterans began settling the area.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.


The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail (south to north) as follows:[3]

Connecting trails. The Old South Carolina State Road linked to other trails at each end. Other trails also crossed it in the middle.[4]

The migration pathways connected at the south end in Charleston included:

The migration pathways connected at the north end in Spartanburg County, South Carolina included:

Between those two ends the Old South Carolina State Road also crossed several other important migration routes:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Old South Carolina State Road start in Charleston, South Carolina. Take Interstate 26 west to Goose Creek. From Goose Creek follow US Route 176 northwest to Henderson, North Carolina.

Settlers and Records

The Great Valley Road was the trail leading to the north end of the Old South Carolina State Road. A few colonists settled in Washington County Virginia in the early 1750s but decided to leave for safety reasons during the French and Indian War. The Lower Cherokee Villages on the South Carolina and Georgia part of the Old South Carolina State Road inhibited most European settlements until the American Revolutionary War. Settlers prior to 1777 were most likely using trails other than the Old South Carolina State Road to reach their new homes.

No complete list of settlers who used the Old South Carolina State Road is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that trail may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after 1777 and therefore who were the most likely candidates to have traveled the Old South Carolina State Road.

For partial lists of early settlers who may  have used the Old South Carolina State Road, see histories like:

in Washington County, VA:

in Oconee County, SC:

  • Frederick Van Clayton, Settlement of Pendleton District, 1777-1800 (Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, c1988) (FHL Book 975.72 W2c) WorldCat entry. The old Pendleton District embraced the present counties of Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens. Includes plats and their owners taken from the "State Record of Plat Books."

in Stephens County, GA:

External Links

  • Adam Prince, 1920 State Trunk Routes - An Overview describes Trunk Route 2 as the "Old State Road." The route included Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville, but where it exited South Carolina is "unclear." Various possibilities described include routes via Landrum, Travelers Rest, and Seneca.


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 852. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Watauga Association," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watauga_Association (accessed 8 April 2011).
  3. South Carolina - The Counties, http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/sc_counties_alphabetical_order.html (accessed 8 April 2011).
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002) WorldCat entry., and William E. Myer, Indian Trails of the Southeast. (Nashville, Tenn.: Blue and Gray Press, 1971), 12-14, and the book's pocket map "The Trail System of the Southeastern United States in the early Colonial Period" (1923). (FHL Book 970.1 M992i) WorldCat entry.