More on Early Roads
Getting Lost and Getting Wet
Since several of my last posts have touched on the topic of early roads in Orangeburgh District, I wanted to share a source that has given me some helpful insight into roads of the nineteenth century. Agriculture, Geology, and Society in Antebellum South Carolina, edited by William M. Mathew focuses on a diary kept by Edmund Ruffin in 1843 when he made an agricultural survey though the state. Anyone interested in a description of South Carolina, its people, agriculture and geology would probably find something of interest in this book.
Ruffin’s travels around the state took him through Orangeburgh District on two occasions. His descriptions of the roads, bridges and waterways of the area are quite interesting, at least to those of us who enjoy such mundane details! He describes both public and private roads. When traveling through Barnwell District towards Orangeburgh he followed private roads that were not much more than cart paths. These roads were apparently “altered continually by the extensions of clearings … and other causes which left the road scarcely distinguishable.” (page 146)
Ruffin’s experience crossing Cow Castle Swamp was anything but pleasant. He apparently did not realize how deep the water was when he started crossing it by the usual method of fording with his horse and wagon. He discovered that his wagon held water in better than it kept it out. Fortunately both he and his diary survived the wet experience to leave us with details of his travels.
Tags: Cow Castle Swamp