The Cherokee Path at Beaver Creek of the Congaree River
While working with some colonial plats along Beaver Creek of the Congaree River, I became intrigued with a noticeable change in the road across the stream. Since roads and stream crossings played important roles in the lives of our ancestors, I decided to explore this particular change in more detail. It turns out that the older crossing on Beaver Creek was probably originally a part of the Cherokee Path.
The Cherokee Path, running from Charleston inland along the Santee and Saluda Rivers was well established by the time Amelia, Orangeburgh and Saxe Gotha Townships were settled in the 1730s. As settlers moved into these new townships, property was taken up along the path. As the maps in the drawing below show, several individuals claimed land (plats 1 through 4) in the 1730s where the trail crossed Beaver Creek of the Congaree River.
The first four plats, surveyed in the 1730s did not show the path. According to information at the South Carolina Genealogical Society’s website, by 1737 the trail had become a wagon road. By 1759 it was the road to Fort Prince George, the main staging area of the Cherokee Expedition of 1759. All of the traffic and supplies from the low country would have crossed at this point. A survey done in 1771 (plat 5) shows the road and, when placed on a topographic map, points to what was probably the original crossing at Beaver Creek.
Corbin’s Bridge is shown at this location on the 1825 Mill’s Atlas map. After becoming a public road in the mid-1700s, this route remained in use through at least 1922, according to the Lexington County soil survey map. (This area was made part of Calhoun County in 1908 but there does not seem to be an early soil survey map of Calhoun County available.) By 1944 the newer route had been established according to the topographic map of the area (Hopkins Quadrangle).
Notice the difference between where the original path crossed Beaver Creek and where today’s highway 176 crosses the stream. The newer route reflects choices made with twentieth century technology whereas the older route considered factors important to travel on foot or using old fashioned horse power. And just imagine what a parade of activity anyone living along this route during the colonial era must have been witness to.
Here is a link to a PDF file of this drawing: Beaver Creek Congaree Colonial Plats.