So, What Roads Existed in the 1800s?
Since my last posting touched briefly on the issues of road changes over time, I thought I would give some additional examples in this entry. As we drive around today on hard surfaced, well-marked roads, it may be hard to remember that our ancestors did not always travel through an area using the same routes we do. Some roads came into existence in the earliest years of settlement and are still in use but others have come and gone or been altered significantly over time.
The earliest detailed map showing the roads of Orangeburg County that I am aware of is the 1913 US Department of Agriculture Soil Survey Map. This map predates the creation of the South Carolina Highway Department in 1917 so it probably gives us the best idea of the possible routes through the county prior to the widespread use of automobiles. By 1938 the State Highway Department issued a series of maps for each county and another set was created in 1974. I have used each of these three maps to study the road changes in the area bounded by the North Fork of the Edisto River, Bull Swamp, US Highway 178 (also known as North Road) and Long Branch.
What is now US Highway 178 appears on some of the earliest plats in the area and does not appear to have changed significantly. The road roughly paralleling North Road is currently (per 2005 Orangeburg County Street Atlas) known as Long Branch Road and may have existed in the 1800s. Wolfton Road, which connects with Long Branch Road and North Road, probably predates the twentieth century. The remaining roads in the area have changed considerably over time, as the drawing below shows.