Piedmont, SC - Events of Saturday, April 30, 2016
As we said at the end of our last post, there was a chance of rain in the forecast for later on Saturday, but it was sunny in the morning so we decided to drive about 10 minutes into Greenville to check out Falls Park, which is a 32-acre park in the downtown area located at the site of a waterfall on the Reedy River.
There is some free parking in the vicinity of the falls. We thought we would have a good chance of finding a spot on a Saturday; but when we arrived, we found there was a barbecue cook-off going on about two blocks from the falls. Several side streets were blocked off, and what limited on-street parking that exists was filled. We ran across a small parking lot for the park itself located on the eastern side of the falls, and we lucked out and found it had one empty spot that was just big enough to squeeze our big pickup into. It was a short walk to the falls.
The area around Greenville was the territory of the Cherokee Indians. In the mid-1700s, Richard Pearis, who was an Indian trader, garnered favor with the Cherokee over the years, and they Cherokee gave Pearis 100,000 acres of land in 1770. He built a plantation that included a grist mill in the vicinity of the falls.
By the mid-1900s, industrialization along the river had caused pollution; and the falls, which had previously been a gathering place, lost its importance to the community. In 1960, a 4-lane bridge was built across the river right over the falls obscuring the falls from view from above. By the 1990s, however, the river had been cleaned up and there was a growing interest in reclaiming the land around the falls. This interest was sparked by earlier reclamation efforts done by the Carolina Foothills Garden Club. In 2002, City Council boldly voted to remove the 4-lane bridge and build a park. The park has become the centerpiece of the city helping to create a vibrant social scene in the downtown area.
Besides the falls itself, the most distinctive feature of the park is a curved, pedestrian, suspension bridge called Liberty Bridge.
The bridge passes directly in front of the falls and provides excellent views.
The park includes riverwalks along both sides of the river above the falls and on the south bank below the falls. There are large, grassy areas with flowers, benches and swings in the vicinity of the falls.
After exploring the immediate area around the falls, we took the riverwalk upstream. A few hundred yards above the falls we came to the remnants of a building that was originally a paint shop for the Greenville Coach Factory. The factory, originally called the Markley Coach Factory, was built along the banks of the Reedy River in the mid-1800s. The paint shop was built in 1904, but the rise of the automobile in the early 1900s spelled doom for the coach factory. The factory was sold in 1911 and converted to other uses. Today, the old paint shop is called the Wyche Pavilion. It is an open-air venue that is rented out for weddings and other gatherings.
We crossed another pedestrian bridge at the Wyche Pavilion and walked back down the other side of the river. We then followed the riverwalk downstream where we got more views of the falls.
There is also a nice shade garden along this section of the riverwalk.
A couple hundred yards downstream, there is another, smaller falls.
There were several mills built along the river over the years. At the smaller falls there are remnants of a brick corn mill built in 1819 by Vardry McBee.
We retraced our steps back up the riverwalk, but instead of heading back to the north at the falls toward where we had parked, we followed the walkway all the way out the west end of the park into downtown Greenville. We were greeted by yet another park called Harriet's Garden located behind the West End Market. The garden features a glass sculpture called "Rose Crystal Tower" by Dale Chihuly. We first saw other works by Chihuly when we visited Phipp's Conservatory when we went back to Pittsburgh for Christmas a couple of years ago.
The small park also had loads of flowers...
...and a fountain.
On our way back to the truck, we took a little detour and stopped to check out the barbecue cook-off. The dish being featured on Saturday was pulled pork. Admission to the cook-off was free, but you could buy tickets for $1 each that were good for food, beer and/or wine. We saw one larger booth had pulled pork plates for 10 tickets and sandwiches for 6. Except for the couple of booths that were selling beer and wine, the other booths all appeared to be contestants in the cook-off. You could purchase a sample cup of pulled pork at the contestants' booths for one ticket.
Just a few of the contestant's booths at the barbecue cook-off
The smells were very tempting, but we passed on getting any samples and headed back to truck then made our way back to the 5th wheel. We relaxed on Sunday then continued our trek northward on Monday morning. We'll tell you where we were headed in our next post.