The Stumphouse Tunnel LbNA # 1330
|Placed Date||Apr 13 2003|
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Trail is an easy walk after a bit of scrambling to get on top of the tunnel. Total loop from car park is less than one-half mile.
Notes about the Stumphouse Tunnel:
In 1852, the South Carolina Legislature granted a charter to the Blue Ridge Railroad Company, which was formed to build a railroad connection between Charleston, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The major obstacle to this work was Stumphouse Mountain in Oconee County, South Carolina. Stumphouse Tunnel was to be constructed 5,863 feet through solid granite.
In spite of the dreams of the people of Charleston, considerable effort on the part of many people of the state, and sizable expenditures, the railroad across the mountains was not meant to be. The South Carolina Legislature refused to grant further funding to the railroad in 1859, ending South Carolina's western connection.
All that remains of the grandiose dream is the unfinished Stumphouse Tunnel now preserved in a park located in the foothills a few miles north of Walhalla on Highway 28. Picnic tables are available.
Today, the tunnel area is a recreational site. The temperature inside the tunnel is about 50 degrees and the humidity is about 85% year-around. You’ll want to bring flashlights to explore the tunnel, into which you may venture for quite a distance. Shortly after entering the tunnel, you will come to the first ventilation shaft, which opens up to the sky far above. For a more detailed history of the tunnel, visit www.stumphousetunnel.com.
Across from the entrance to the tunnel is a rail car. Standing at the rail car and facing the tunnel you will notice that there are trails on either side of the tunnel that lead to the area above the tunnel. You may take either the left or right paths, but I took both and found the right to be somewhat easier. Standing at the front of the rail car, you’ll find the right-hand path at about 30°.
After climbing up the trail, you will soon find yourself on a rocky plateau above the tunnel opening and can look down to the rail car and the car park. Turn to face 350° and you will see a trail leading into the woods. Follow this trail. You should see overhead wires to your right, and a guy wire for one of the supporting poles is anchored in the path about 15 paces in.
You will soon come to a broken tree sticking out of the ground in the middle of the trail. The stump of the tree points to 45° and leans over at about the same number of degrees. Continue up the trail about 43 paces, crossing another bigger log across the path as you go. Then look to your right (east) about five paces off the trail to see a fallen tree with its roots pulled out of the ground. On the other side of this tree, at the base of the trunk under a rock, you will find that which you seek. Use discretion when stamping up, as this trail is a popular one.
You may carry on up the path another 145 paces or so to find the top of the tunnel’s first ventilation shaft. Only the bats should use this entrance, so it is surrounded by chain-link fence.