Getting from the Low Country to the High Country

Published 6:00pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Can you believe that cars could use those parking spaces on Trade Street with interstate traffic going both ways continually all day? There was only one traffic light in town, at the cross streets where Morris has stood in recent years. There were countless oil tanker trucks, dragging their anti-static chains. There were at least as many semi-trailer trucks trying to beat the light and keep their cargo moving. But they had to contend with cars backing out into their path when they left even a tiny opening in the stream of traffic.

During peach season there were several packing sheds operating in Our Area. I worked as bookkeeper in the Morrow shed in Landrum the summer when I was 15, and I learned a lot. There were Model A Ford “peach flats” to transport bushels of peaches from the trees to the shed. There ladies packed the prettiest peaches into lids, while the machine funneled graded peaches into new baskets. The culls went in bulk into waiting trucks.

Many of those trucks were derelicts over here from Tennessee, and they headed back home up US 176. They would soon be laboring along west of the Valley in granny low gear, the driver often walking beside because it was awfully hot in the cab of the overheating truck. Everything else was backed up behind them, as there were no passing lanes. There was relief only when the steaming truck was pulled off the road to cool down.

The “boys” at McDonalds tell me of stealing watermelons from trucks climbing the mountain slowly. Some would ride on the front of a car and pass them back to the people inside. Others would dismount and put the melons on the side of the road.

Coming down the mountain could become a wild ride if brakes failed. My friend Carl Beust and I rode up to Melrose Park on our bikes for the free ride back. His chain came off at Jervey curve, and he had a fine time getting the bike slowed enough to get off it.

Today, I still think the best way to get to Saluda is the old dirt road from Pearson’s Falls up though Little Charleston. No grade to speak of, and a nice ride by a babbling brook. Try it sometime — when you are not in a hurry.

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