What do Washington, DC and a winding trail in the middle of the Blue Ridge mountains have in common? Poinsett Bridge, a 200-year-old stone structure that is thought to be the oldest remaining bridge in South Carolina and possibly in America. It has also earned the title of the most haunted site in the state.
My favorite sort of travel happens when I go in search of ghost stories. Poinsett Bridge, located near the state lines of North and South Carolina on the US east coast is one of those places I’ve returned to time and time again hoping to hear an echo of the voices that so many people have reported in the woods surrounding the old structure.
History of Poinsett Bridge
The bridge is attributed to Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument and the National Treasury. Named after a local legend who lent his name to the seasonal poinsettia plant, Poinsett Bridge was once part of a stagecoach route.
Today the old roadway links trails maintained for curious visitors to explore and is no longer used for travel between the Carolinas. Constructed by stone that was carefully chiseled, the arch of the bridge supports its own weight without the need for cement mortar, which is a fitting monument to the historical significance of the adjacent land.
If the forest could speak, its stories would be ancient. The surrounding area was a route for the Cherokee nation, connecting Keowee to the tribe’s Lower Towns. The Blue Ridge range is considered to be one of the oldest mountain formations in the world, rising up from cracks of seismic activity 1 billion years ago.
Today Little Gap Creek still carves the rock beneath the bridge, a shady refuge from the summer heat and a temperate wonderland in the winter.
Robert Mills, the bridge’s architect, was a native of South Carolina and served as State Architect and Engineer for the Board of Public Works during the construction of a roadway that would link the coastal region of South Carolina to the mountainous terrain of North Carolina.