“Highway 25 in the Carolinas” tells the history of an Upstate road recently added to the National Register
Dr. Anne Peden is a road tripper. She and her husband traveled all 50 states by car in the 1990s. And she drove.
Peden’s love of a good road and her passion for sharing the history of the highway she’s lived on all her life led to Highway 25 in the Carolinas, a new book co-written with Fork Shoals Historical Society Chair Jim Scott.
Legwork for the new book began when fellow Society member George Estes took the authors on a field trip to show them old dirt sections of Highway 25. In their search for dirt roadbeds, they discovered concrete sections, as well.
Originally a Drovers road that stretched from Augusta, GA into portions of Kentucky, US Highway 25 was used by those herding hogs, turkeys and mules. Lowcountry South Carolinians traveled by stagecoach and wagon to the foothills and mountains, often staying at Greenville County inns along the way – The McCullough House in Princeton, the Spring Park Inn in Travelers Rest and the Goodwin House on Highway 11.
In the early 1900s, a portion of the road was paved from Greenville to Travelers Rest for better access to the Swamp Rabbit Railroad. Known today as Old Buncombe Road, that stretch of highway includes a bridge built in 1910. In 1918, the road became the Carolina Division of the Dixie Highway that ran from Miami to Canada, and by 1926, it was known as US Route 25.
Scott and Peden used the current US 25 and aerial maps to search for old roadbeds. “We spent a year finding concrete sections of the old road and we believe we’ve found them all,” Scott said. “At least we’ve not had anyone come up with any others yet.”
Then, they filed an application to have sections of the early road added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“I wrote an application for the register and sent it to SHPO (State Historic Preservation Offices) the first of January a year-and-a-half ago, then Covid shut us down,” Peden explained. “We couldn’t work on the national register application until they got back with me, so we decided to turn it into a book.”
Scott said he wants Highway 25 in the Carolinas to create an awareness of the important role southern Greenville County played in building the area’s economy.
“Greenville County began down here in the southern part of the county and not up there on the falls. The first non-native Americans were sitting on the Laurens County line just waiting to cross (the Indian boundary line) at the Reedy River,” said Scott, who lives across Highway 25 from The McCullough House and remembers playing there as a child.
Scott and Peden were notified in mid-May that seven of the still visible concrete sections of Highway 25 will be placed on the National Register. The sections include three in Moonville, the 1910 bridge on Old Buncombe Road and three north of Travelers Rest.
The authors and fellow members of the Fork Shoals Historical Society are hopeful that having portions of the road to Augusta on the National Register will lead to qualification of The McCullough House and at least some of the more than 100 homes still standing between Moonville and the Laurens County line that are a century old or older.
“People talk about the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail and how important they were to westward expansion in the United States,” Peden said. “Highway 25 is as important and much older. It was here in 1766. The Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail were not an issue until after 1800.”
Highway 25 in the Carolinas includes more than 100 photographs that help tell the history of the ancient road. And a section entitled “For Your Travels” serves as a road trip and log to help readers identify old roadbeds and historic sites along the road.
All proceeds from sales of Highway 25 in the Carolinas go to the Fork Shoals Historical Society and are designated to be used for restoration of The McCullough House. Go HERE to purchase.